Former Minnesota soccer standout and coach Amos Magee found out Wednesday he could go home again even though he could not believe how much the sport’s profile has changed.
Magee was named Minnesota United’s director of player personnel, returning to help the club prepare for its Major League Soccer debut next season.
The St. Paul Academy and Minnesota Thunder alum will work alongside longtime friend, former teammate and United Sporting Director Manny Lagos.
“Manny has the vision for the club, and my role is to assist with and help the vision evolve as it is related to players,” Magee said.
The first Magee and Lagos collaboration will come Dec. 13 in the MLS expansion draft. Newcomers Atlanta and Minnesota will mine the ranks of players left unprotected by MLS clubs.
Lagos said Wednesday the team would “like to make sure” a coach is hired before the draft.
The state of professional soccer is a startling contrast to where it stood in 2008 when Magee, then coach of the cash-strapped Thunder, stepped down midseason as the team wallowed in last place.
“When I actually got here, I saw not only the bricks and mortar but also the excitement — the bumper stickers, the window clings,” Magee said. “It’s a proper soccer market now.”
And Magee is better positioned to help. He spent the past three years as an assistant coach with D.C. United, where he also coached the Under-23 team.
Before that, Magee was director of player development with the Portland Timbers, helping the club move from the United Soccer League to MLS.
He called Lagos to recommend signing a raw but promising Portland trialist, midfielder Miguel Ibarra.
Ibarra later became the face of Minnesota’s franchise and commanded a seven-figure transfer fee from Club Leon.
“On paper it appears that we brought [Magee] back because he’s from here,” Lagos said. “It’s more than that. Amos built up an impressive career away from Minnesota. He was pursued by several clubs for this type of role.”
An eye for talent will be key to producing and procuring players for Minnesota. Magee heads to Costa Rica later this week to scout.
The club’s planned youth academy system and potential United Soccer League team would come under Magee’s watch as well.
The promotion in duties still left a tough decision for Magee and his wife Charlotte, parents of two children.
“It should have been a slam dunk, but it wasn’t,” Magee said. “I could see the scene of staying in D.C. but, for the overall movie, I want to be in Minnesota helping build the club.”
Magee moved to Minnesota at age 17 and played two seasons at St. Paul Academy. He and Lagos won a state title in 1987 and they later played five seasons with the Thunder under coach Buzz Lagos, Manny’s father. Magee retired with a team-best with 64 goals and 39 assists.
He became Minnesota’s head coach in 2006 and later resigned during the 2008 season. Lagos served as team president at that time. Neither expressed concern about working together again.
“We both felt like we failed at that point,” Magee said. “The thing that never failed was our friendship and our belief in each other.”