Mike Magee (right) finished the season with 21 goals and four assists. (Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Season after season, Mike Magee headed back home to Chicago.
His journey was either long (from Florida, where he starred at the U.S. Under-17 residency camp at Bradenton), long (from New York City during six seasons with the Red Bulls), or long (from Los Angeles during four full years with the Galaxy).
This year, his journey will be non-existent. Which is nice, because otherwise he'd have to find a way to pack a glass trophy.
Major League Soccer presented Magee with the 2013 Most Valuable Player award Thursday, capping a career year for the forward in which he scored 21 goals with four assists, first for the Los Angeles Galaxy before a mid-season trade brought him back to his hometown Chicago Fire where he continued his scorching form.
"L.A. was obviously amazing, I enjoyed my time there, but I had a 3-year-old daughter who I wanted to get home to Chicago," Magee told reporters after being presented with the award in a ceremony. "I've had a lot of seasons where things were up and down but this year it kept getting better, from a soccer standpoint and a life standpoint."
Indeed, his goal-scoring total this season more than doubled his previous season high, which came his rookie year with New York in 2003. He started the season off hot, scoring six goals in L.A.'s first 10 games. Then came "the trade."
STRAUS: Back home and grounded by family, Mike Magee is finally fulfilling his potential
When onetime U.S. national team midfielder Robbie Rogers abruptly ended his retirement, Chicago held his rights. But Rogers only wanted to play near his family in Los Angeles. Magee saw an opportunity, and volunteered himself for a transaction that would take him away from the two-time defending champions, and send him back to the city he considers to be the greatest in the world.
"Once I knew it was time to get my daughter home, and when I thought about going home and winning a trophy for the city I love and the team I love, it was easy," Magee said of his decision to leave L.A. "I've made so many different moves, and a lot of different transitions, and it was difficult. But going home was as easy as can be."
As it turned out, Magee's return only further served to highlight his importance on the field, no matter the team. Magee scored in his first game with Chicago, and went on to net 15 goal in the next 22 games, instantly endearing him to the Fire faithful who had seen their team struggle mightily up to that point, losing seven of their first 10 games before Magee's arrival. They went from one of the league's worst teams to barely missing out on making the playoffs.
Now the wait begins for a new season. Which, ironically enough, has given Magee more license to leave home again.
"For most of my career, I felt like every time I came back to Chicago it was in the winters which are not that easy," he said. "So now to get the chance to go to Florida and spend some time away when it's cold is pretty nice."