Robbie Rogers to Galaxy, Mike Magee to Fire

By MLS standards, this is pretty close to a blockbuster: The Los Angeles Galaxy, two-time defending league champion, has traded leading scorer Mike Magee to the goal-starved Chicago Fire for the rights to Robbie Rogers, a U.S. national team candidate who has not played a competitive match in 5 ½ months.

USA Today broke the story of Rogers’s imminent return to MLS on Friday night. Soccer Insider’s Twitter feed was first to report the trade details later in the evening.

On the surface, it’s a one-sided deal: Magee, 28 years old and in his 11th MLS season, has gotten better with age after several lean campaigns. In these Galaxy glory years, David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane provided the glamour. Guys like Magee and defender Todd Dunivant furnished the foundation.

With Beckham gone and Donovan working out the kinks from a personal hiatus, Magee has posted six goals this spring, tied for second in MLS behind Philadelphia’s Jack McInerney.

Rogers, meantime, has never fulfilled immense promise since departing the University of Maryland after winning an NCAA title in his 2005 freshman season. He lasted less than a year at Dutch club Heerenveen before moving to the Columbus Crew for four seasons, highlighted by a 2008 campaign that included an MLS Cup title and a Best XI all-league selection.

He was off to Europe again last year, but with disappointing results: A few assignments with second-tier Leeds and then a loan to Stevenage, a lowly third-division side. He made just eight appearances and two starts in all competitions and didn’t score. Leeds released him in February.

Eyeing a return to MLS, Rogers, an Orange County kid once tutored by U.S. Coach Juergen Klinsmann at a young age, began workouts with the Galaxy this month at Home Depot Center. He belonged, however, to the Fire, which in February had dealt Dominic Oduro to Columbus for Dilly Duka and Rogers’s rights.

Citing the desire to be close to family, Rogers wanted to play in Los Angeles. So if the Galaxy wanted him, it would have to play nice with the Fire.

Magee, sources tell me, also wanted to move closer to family – in the Chicago area. One source said Magee “wanted and needed” to go home. The Galaxy hated the idea of losing him but also wanted to do right by a loyal five-year employee. So in the end, both clubs were able to accommodate the players’ off-field needs.

The Fire received a forward who has scored as many goals as its entire team through seven matches entering the weekend. The Galaxy added a dangerous flank player to an attack that has sputtered at times but has abundant options. With the summer transfer window opening soon, deep-pocketed Los Angeles is sure to compensate for Magee’s departure.

While Magee is in top form, Rogers, 26, “has got a ways to go” in regaining full match fitness, one source said. The Galaxy was planning to decide today whether to include him on the 18-man game-day roster for Sunday night’s match against the Seattle Sounders at Home Depot Center.

Rogers’s last real game was Dec. 8, a nine-minute appearance for Stevenage at Hartlepool United. He hasn’t started since Sept. 4 in a Football League Trophy game played in front of 981 spectators at fourth-division Dagenham & Redbridge.

In other words, it’s going to be a while before Rogers is starting regularly for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Oh, by the way, Robbie Rogers is gay.

Which, in 2013, should be an afterthought. So it is.

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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Steven Goff · May 24, 2013