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Wednesday, May 22

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Fire Sun Jun 23 2013

New Signings Resurrect Fire Playoff Hopes

After winning only two of their first ten game, the Chicago Fire have been quietly turning their season around with a 5-0-2 undefeated stretch. While 8th place in the Eastern Conference isn't where anyone thought this team would be during the offseason, the team has done extremely well to get back into playoff contention. Just as the disastrous start could be attributed to the loss of a couple of key players through injury, the turnaround started with two new signings: Bakary Soumare and Mike Magee. Both have ties to the Chicago area.

Soumare started his career with the Fire and quickly emerged as one of the league's best young defenders, earning a spot on the Mali National Team. After a notorious, locker room fight with then-coach Dennis Hamlett, Soumare left for a stint in the French league that didn't work out and wound up as a squad player for the Philadelphia Union. With Hamlett's departure two coaches ago and the Fire's defense helpless in the face of Arne Friedrich's injury-enforced retirement, it was a good time for Soumare to get his career back on track, and help the Fire stop sucking along the way. While the defense isn't quite what it was with Friedrich, Baky's brought leadership, physicality, and a level of composure that has been sorely missed.

Mike Magee grew up in Chicago, but has been stuck in LA winning titles and developing a reputation as the most underrated player in the league. He scored loads of important playoff goals, however he's done so in the shadow of David Beckham, Landon Donovan, and Robbie Keane. Magee seized the opportunity to return to his hometown when the league had a vested interest in bringing Robbie Rogers to LA. Since joining the Fire, Magee has scored in every game. With 10 goals so far this season (which includes an opening day hat trick for LA against the Fire), he's tied as the top scorer in the league, and he's already scored more goals than anyone on the Fire did all of last season. He's also played like a man that's been waiting for the chance to be the main man on a team his whole career and is relishing the chance to do it in his home town. The only problem with his play so far is that if he keeps it up, we'll lose him for a month to the US National Team at the Gold Cup.

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