The Mike Magee for Robbie Rogers's rights trade continues to define both the season of the Chicago Fire and the LA Galaxy. Enough time has passed that folk are starting to wonder about the winners and losers of the trade, including Cyd Zeigler over at Outsports.
My opinion throughout has been Mike Magee is playing out of his head this year, but players don't have breakout years a decade into their professional career. Either one argues that he was misused for ten years and that's why this is the first year he'll break double digits in goal scoring, or one accepts that his performance this year is a statistical anomaly.
If you're arguing he's been misused, then one can't simply carry his goals over to make hypotheticals about how much better LA would be playing. Arena would still have him as a wide midfielder, with maybe a few appearances up top with Robbie Keane on international duty. So which Magee might have made June more pleasant, his contributions might not have been what the team needed down the line.
To which you say but Josie, Magee always turned it on in the playoffs. As an amateur stat-head, I have to confess I don't believe in clutch. I don't believe there are players who perform better in a knockout situation. Let's not forget, clutch-y-ness was an argument used to knock LeBron James. LeBron James!
A quick look at Who Scored's player profiles shows Magee rated way higher when he plays central forward. This year he has eight goals from the position Bruce Arena didn't want him to play. His weaknesses are crossing and defensive contribution, while he's a very strong finisher.
The Galaxy could have used a strong finisher in June, it's been one of their biggest problems. However folk forget that May wasn't too great either. In the four matches before the Magee-Rogers trade, the Galaxy lost three times and had a lone victory in Philadelphia.
So when Rogers hinted at a return, and with LA having looked at him before, and with Mike Magee raising his hand to go to Chicago, a trade was made.
Let's not forget the other trends that hurt the Galaxy in May. Poor finishing was still an issue, as LA relied on lower percentage long shots. What the team needed was some to get the ball into higher percentage situations. It's the reason Landon Donovan is still on the flank and not partnering every match with Robbie Keane. Well that and the fact that Donovan's finishing has been poor.
It's tough to evaluate Rogers at this point, most of what we're talking about still is potential. So while Graham Parker wrote about Rogers not helping the Galaxy attack break down Portland last week in a article praising Magee's play of late, I think this one is still too early to call.
Each passing week, Rogers will learn more about his teammate's tendencies and how to get them the best service. Gyasi Zardes coming into his own, going after another DP attacker, these will see the "Rogers gambit" pay off.
Having a player weak at crossing, or a player weak in passing like Hector Jimenez, wasn't going to create goals. Placing Magee up top wasn't going to create goals without distribution. LA needed to be dangerous from both flanks lest they be too easy to defend.
There are more angles to evaluate this trade from than "Mike Magee is scoring goals for Chicago".