Mike Magee, Patrick Nyarko lift Fire past Charlotte Independence

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Mike Magee controls the ball during the first half of Tuesday’s game. | Chicago Fire Soccer Club

Before Tuesday night, the narrative of this Fire season had turned negative. Talk had turned to coach Frank Yallop’s job security and the state of the club that’s last in MLS, with impatience oozing out of a frustrated fan base.

But two positives that might change some moods emerged during the Fire’s 3-1 U.S. Open Cup victory over third-division Charlotte Independence:

Mike Magee and Patrick Nyarko.

Magee made his first start since Aug. 16 and played the entire game, scoring in the 37th and 82nd minutes with the latter goal coming on an assist from Nyarko. The goals were Magee’s first since Aug. 10, and were the latest step in his recovery from right hip surgery in September and a right knee procedure in November, not to mention a left hamstring problem that had hampered him recently.

Nyarko, who tore his right ACL on Oct. 18, was named to the 18-man roster for the first time this season and made his debut when he replaced Harry Shipp in the 77th minute.

Together, they gave a struggling team a boost, and maybe a fresh start to a season that’s threatening to go sour.

“There was definitely something a little different in the group tonight, in the way we got after it. You kind of had a sense after the game, but even before the game just this sense that we’re ready to fight for each other,” said Magee, who served as the Fire captain. “First of all, we need to get everyone healthy and on the field and once that happens I truly believe the sky is the limit.”

Neither, however, should be counted on to carry the Fire, who went ahead on Lovel Palmer’s 50th-minute goal. Not only is Magee coming off a long recovery, he’s turning 31 this September and hasn’t stayed healthy for a full season in two years. And Nyarko, 29, struggled with injuries last season before he blew out his knee.

That said, they both could jump-start a team that was without David Accam (hamstring), Shaun Maloney (back), and Jeff Larentowicz (groin).

“I just appreciate the patience the club has had, and their fans,” Nyarko said. “I know they deserve better for all the support they’ve given us, even in the bad times.”

Those bad times weren’t supposed to extend to this season, and maybe there’s a chance the Fire can avoid them the rest of the way. With Magee and Nyarko doing what they did Tuesday, it’s at least a more feasible concept.

“When you see guys on the field you realize how good they are,” Yallop said.

NOTE: The Fire will host Orlando City in the tournament quarterfinals on either July 21 or July 22.

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