Major League Soccer MVP Mike Magee of the Chicago Fire has hailed his team's acquisition of veteran head coach Frank Yallop, claiming the former San Jose, Canada, and Los Angeles coach will bring a mental toughness that the Fire lacked in 2013 under the direction of Frank Klopas.
"The Yallop hire, that was a great hire," Magee told Goal USA. "I think he'll bring some fresh faces in and develop more of a winning mentality. There were times where we were a little too lackadaisical, not enough urgency."
After a slow start, the Fire's 2013 campaign was given a major boost by Magee's acquisition in May. The Men in Red went 12-6-5 with Magee in the lineup, but just fell short of the postseason, which led to the departures of Klopas and president of soccer operations Javier Leon.
Yallop had a tremendous 2012 season with San Jose, as he guided the Earthquakes to the Supporters' Shield and was named the Coach of the Year. Ironically, San Jose was knocked out of the playoffs by the LA Galaxy, who got a goal from Magee in a 3-2 aggregate victory.
Magee is quite familiar with facing Yallop-coached teams, as the former Canada international has been a head coach in all but two of Magee's 11 seasons in Major League Soccer.
"I've always hated playing against his teams," Magee admitted, laughing. "Which is think I why I feel like I'm gonna really enjoy it. He's the kind of guy that loves pressing, he loves attacking - he loves basically, playing in the way that the players love to play.
"I'm really looking forward to it."
Magee, awarded the league's highest individual honor after a season which saw him score 21 goals and finish third in MLS's official Castrol Performance Index, insisted that he had felt no obligation to carry the team upon being traded to his hometown club.
"I feel like I've tried to just play the same way my whole career," he said. "The hardest transition was just making the switch from midfield to forward."
Magee's breakout in 2013 was largely unexpected, as the 21 goals tripled his previous career high of seven - set all the way back in his rookie season of 2003. The 29-year-old insists the barrage of goals came naturally, and wasn't part of a concerted effort to score more.
"As far as trying to shoulder a bigger load, I actually didn't do that. It just kind of happened that way."
The Fire and their new coach can only hope it will continue happening in 2014.
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