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Shooting for the 'Stars 

Most 18-year-olds fret over waking up in time to make their English 101 class. Mike Magee has to worry about scoring on Zach Thornton and Pat Onstad. The New York/New Jersey MetroStars forward, who graduated from high school earlier this year thanks to an accelerated program, has six goals already this season --- just one behind World Cup hero Clint Mathis. In 2002, he led the Under-20 Men's National Team with 14 goals, which no doubt was one of the main reasons he was taken as the fourth pick in this year's MLS SuperDraft. This past weekend, the Rookie of the Year candidate assisted on the MetroStars' match-tying goal against the Chicago Fire.

            The Long Grove, Illinois, resident, who has yet to earn a yellow card in MLS and hasn't gone three matches without scoring, talked with City as the MetroStars traveled to Columbus for their fourth-round US Open Cup Match. His team will be facing the Rhinos in a "friendly" match on Tuesday, August 19.

City: So what's it like being 18, playing professional soccer at the highest level in the country, and scoring all of these goals?

            Magee: It's awesome. I'm playing with guys like Clint Mathis and Jaime Moreno, and to play as much as I have is a dream come true.

            City: Did you ever, in your wildest high school fantasies, imagine you'd be among the league's top scorers and playing for the best team in the MLS?

            Magee: No, there was no chance. It was a dream just to meet these guys, let alone play on the same field with them. To be on the field is a shock. To score goals is a shock. Everything is so hard to believe.

            City: Any kind of crazy rookie hazing from your MetroStars teammates?

            Magee: Not really. It's a newer team with a lot of rookies, and everybody is really cool. There are six of us [rookies], so there's a lot of hazing to spread around and not too much has been based on me. There are always jokes, but mostly it's just carrying goalposts. Nothing too bad.

            City: Do you have to be nice to Kenny Arena so his dad (US Men's National Team Coach Bruce Arena) won't keep you off the national team in the future?

            Magee: No, Kenny's an awesome kid. I don't have to do any sucking up to Kenny.

            City: How seriously do you take an exhibition match against a lower-level team?

            Magee: For me, every game I play, even exhibition matches against lower-level teams, that's a big game for me because I have so many things to work on. I'm not at a level where certain games can't help me; even playing lower-level teams can help me tremendously. Maybe it's a little easier for me than an MLS game, but it's still a game I can learn a lot from.

            City: You seem to get fouled a lot. Do you feel your age and your speed put a big Damarcus Beasley-sized target on your back?

            Magee: Well, I wouldn't compare myself to Damarcus Beasley, but yeah, I get fouled a few times. Obviously, when a guy sees me and I beat him --- you don't want to get beaten by an 18-year-old. I'm a smaller guy, so they just hit me. Lately I've been dribbling the ball a little more and I'm a little bit more confident, which puts me in a situation to get fouled more.

            City: Which MLS defender would you rather not face?

            Magee: Robin Fraser. We had about four goals we should have scored, and that was a game we wanted to win really bad (on July 26), but he definitely stepped it up for his team.

            City: Where do you think MLS should expand?

            Magee: I know they're talking about San Diego. I have family in San Diego, so I wouldn't mind making another trip out there. Or any other nice place.

            City: What do you think about (MLS Commissioner) Don Garber suggesting the league switch to a September-May schedule in the coming years?

            Magee: Being from Chicago and knowing how cold it gets there in the winter, that would be a tough situation. It's one thing training in it, but when it's game time, it's game time. It doesn't make that big of a difference. Hopefully when they decide to do that, more teams will have their own stadiums and there will be more season ticket holders. By then, it won't make a difference.

            City: What's up next for the U-20s?

            Magee: We just had a camp, but I was injured and didn't play. We have a tournament in Spain, and then we'll be getting together before the championships in November.

            City: Any chance of playing with the U-23s for the 2004 Olympic qualifiers?

            Magee: I haven't heard anything. Obviously, that would be a dream.

            City: So what's the story with the prom?

            Magee: Back in Columbus, it was the third game of the year, and I knew I was going to have to leave immediately after the game to catch my flight to go to my high school prom. In that game, I ended up scoring my first goal in MLS, so it was an incredible day.

Mike Magee and his New York/New Jersey MetroStars play a "friendly" match against the Rochester Rhinos at Frontier Field on Tuesday, August 19. For tickets, call 454-KICK.

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