Injury-free Metro impedes the SuperClub in 1:1 draw
October 19, 2007
On a night where one team had nothing to play for, while another fought for their playoff lives, Metro accomplished their primary goal in emerging unscathed from a 1:1 deadlock in Los Angeles. Nine days before their playoff series starts at home against New England, the best case scenario played out for Metro; the squad that took the field entered it motivated and energetic and left it without any injuries to note.
After making a couple of long-awaited changes to the backline last week, Bruce Arena prudently kept the new foursome together for another game, likely to build continuity in anticipation of the aforementioned playoff date. In fact, there were only two changes in the starting eleven from the Kansas City match: Joe Vide started in central midfield for Dema Kovalenko, and John Wolyniec started in place of Francis Doe, who did not make the trip.
Metro came out of the gate looking strong, controlling possession and creating a number of scoring opportunities, in particular for star striker Juan Pablo Angel. The Golden Boot contender and MVP candidate was unable to convert on two good chances early, first being stopped by the onrushing Joe Cannon, and then narrowly missing the far post with a headed ball.
Troy Roberts would make Angel, who appeared genuinely interested in adding to his tally, regret his near-misses in the fifteenth minute when he nodded in a Landon Donovan cross after a failed corner kick. Donovan's ball sailed right over the head of an indecisive Jon Conway, temporarily bringing back memories of his less glorious performances in Metro colors.
The Galaxy wouldn't have long to celebrate however, as only a minute later Jozy Altidore slammed home the equalizing goal. Almost right off the restart, a fabulous Dave van den Bergh cross found Altidore unmarked in the box, where he headed the ball past Cannon. A subsequent attempt at a quick reply off the restart from the Galaxy's Chris Klein was met at the near post by Conway.
The rest of the first half was met with continued exuberance from both sides, and remained so in the second half. A number of excellent chances were afforded Angel but he was unable to convert any of them, perhaps because he appeared to be pushing so hard for his twentieth league goal. Dane Richards was again dangerous all match long on the right flank, giving Galaxy fullback Mike Randolph all he could handle. And Conway, despite his earlier misjudgment, made a number of superb saves to keep the Galaxy at bay. Another year later, and it's the same story for Conway; he has done enough late in the season to guarantee that he starts the playoffs in net.
In the end, even a sixty-seventh minute appearance by the exalted David Beckham couldn't keep Los Angeles' grip on their own playoff destiny; in fact, an Altidore near-miss in stoppage time nearly sealed their fate. All of which will no doubt bring smiles to the faces of Metro fans who recall the agonizing tenure of Alexi Lalas.
Most important of all, however, is that in the last two games heading into the playoffs, the team has appeared determined and capable from start to finish. It is the first time in a very long time that it cannot be said that the team has completely backed into the playoffs or managed to secure a position under desperate circumstances, and while we at MetroFanatic would never openly advocate optimism in regards to this franchise's postseason prospects, perhaps finally this is not the season when a strictly pessimistic attitude comes recommended.
Lineup: Conway, van den Bergh, Parke, Mendes, Freeman, Vide, Stammler, Altidore, Richards, Wolyniec, Angel. Subs: Leitch, Ubiparipovic.