Ahead of the Los Angeles Galaxy's second leg with the New York Red Bulls, Mike Magee sat down to talk with the media. It was Magee's strike at Red Bull Arena that gave the Galaxy a 1-0 lead going into the second leg at home. While the other teams participating in Champions League went down hard, the Galaxy were able to produce a favorable result. Part of the reason for that, is the team's stability.
"Here in LA things are amazing," Magee said. When I was in new york things are different than they are now. There were ownership changes, coaching changes, a lot of roster uphevel. In LA it's more like family"
Magee has seen this matchup from both perspectives. He was brought in by Bruce Area to LA in 2009, but he spent the first six years of his career in New York. He was an in demand prospect, going fourth in the draft, and Metros coach Bob Bradley used him right away. Bradley was fired in 2005 with a poor domestic record, and the team was purchased by Red Bull in 2006. From Bob Bradley's sacking in '05 to Hans Backe in 2010, the Red Bulls had five head coaches. Not surprising that the Red Bulls have only recently started to contend.
Magee is lucky in that he's only seen the good side of the LA Galaxy, since Bruce Arena was brought in and the club achieved a level of stability. Since things have been stabilized, the Galaxy have been the top team in the West three years in a row. Mike Magee got to see the conference championship game each of his first two years with the club.
When asked about the mood in the locker room, if the expectations are just to walk through to the championship.
"We're not going to overlook anyone. We're not looking to MLS Cup, we're looking at New York tomorrow; taking it one game at a time."
Cliche, but it speaks to how last year's experience changed the mood in the locker room. After being runners up in MLS Cup 2009, then winning the Supporters' Shield in 2010, the feeling was the playoffs were just a formality. The Galaxy lost 3-0 to third seeded Dallas at home, bringing an awful dose of reality that the playoffs are an entirely different competition than the regular season. Bruce Arena has said as much before the playoffs began.
"Bruce gives you confidence when you need it, and gives you a reality check when you need that"
Arena took the job in New York after an unsuccessful World Cup run in 2006 cost him the National Team. He was only briefly there, but he's brought to LA both Mike Magee and Juan Pablo Angel who he saw first in New York. Always with a great eye for Talent, Juninho is another player Bruce Arena is responsible for bringing in. Magee and the Galaxy midfield will be without Juninho on Thursday due to an after match red card issued during the scuffle. The MLS Disciplinary Committee has remained silent on the fight. What might get overlooked, as how Juninho's play frees up other players.
"Juninho is a huge counterpart to David's success, because he allows David to run around while he clogs up the midfield."
The Galaxy will have to find someone to step up into the attacking midfielder role, someone who can force the opposing midfield to play in - freeing up David Beckham in the back and Landon Donovan on the wing. Paolo Cardozo might fit in that role, but we'll have to wait for kickoff to see what Bruce Arena comes up with.