The Davis-for-Magee trade
January 11, 2017

On the day of the 2003 SuperDraft, newly-hired MetroStars coach Bob Bradley made a bold move. He traded last year's third overall selection, Brad Davis, for the fourth pick. With that choice, Bradley drafted Mike Magee.

Davis was no slouch: he had a successful rookie season with Metro, scoring four goals and three assists. Most importantly, he played a very hard-to-fill position of left midfield. But Bradley had his eyes on Magee, a US youth international who attempted to land a contract in Europe, but was not able to. Bradley knew him from his days running the Chicago Fire, as Magee played for local youth teams. Davis, while promising, was not exactly a good defender, which brought his value down in Bradley's eyes.

Magee was not Bradley's lone high selection that year: Ricardo Clark and Eddie Gaven were taken second and 12th, respectively. But it's the Davis-for-Magee trade that had an incredible effect on Metro (and the rest of MLS) for years to come.

Davis was sent to Dallas, played two years there, went to San Jose, and was moved to Houston. In his first two seasons, he helped to Dynamo to MLS Cups. He played a decade in Houston, made the title game two more times, was an MVP finalist, and is quite possibly the best player in club history. He played last year in Kansas City, and is among MLS's all-time leaders in assists and games played. Oh, he also played in the World Cup at the age of 32.

Magee spent started his Metro career by banging in seven goals a the age of 18. (He first goal, at Columbus, was scored on a day that finished with him attending his high school prom.) A crafty attacker, he excelled in decision-making in the final third. (But not necessarily in other decision-making, as he once got a red card just three minutes after entering the game.) Magee would spend six years in Metro, surviving multiple coaching changes and often changing positions from forward to midfield. Numerous injuries curtailed his advancement: he never matched his rookie total, ending his Metro career with 23 goals and 13 assists. Before the much-maligned 2009 season, Juan Carlos Osorio and Jeff Agoos decided they've seen enough. Magee was sent to Los Angeles for a second roung pick... even though Toronto was offering a first rounder.

In that first season in LA, Magee scored in the opener in the MLS Cup that the Galaxy ended up losing. He helped them triumph in 2011 and 2012 (both times over Houston). Oh, and that 2011 run went through Metro, with Magee scoring twice. He was traded to Chicago early in 2013, and proceeded to bang in 21 goals (just two fewer than in six years with Metro) to win MLS MVP. More injuries followed, and he returned to LA in 2016.

This past offseason, both Davis and Magee retired. They leave the game with their Metro foundation mostly forgotten. They leave us scratching our head, thinking, what if?

What if Bradley doesn't trade the pick and Davis stays with Metro? What if Magee didn't have to be juggled around by different coaches? What if...

For years, it was debated, was trading Davis for Magee the right move. It's still hard to say, after all these years. One thing for sure: they retire with four MLS Cups between them. Metro's total still stands at zero.


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