Ref hands Metro playoff tie
October 27, 2007

New York New England

10.27.07 · Playoff

Metro playoff history has seen its share of heartbreaks. One would think that in the long run, luck will even out, and the terrible call that killed you will be balanced with one that extends your life. But this is Metro we're dealing with. Fairness and balance have no root in the reality. Not tonight, when the blindness of referee Jair Marrufo handed Metro a 0:0 tie in the playoff opener against the Revs.

Bruce Arena's playoff lineup saw the benching of Carlos Mendes for Seth Stammler, who moved back into defense. Joe Vide sat, with Dema Kovalenko and Claudio Reyna forming the central midfield. Francis Doe started up front, as John Wolyniec resumed his usual seat on the bench.

With the center of Metro midfield being defensive-minded, it was obvious the attacks would come through the wings, and did they ever. Especially in the first half, Jozy Altidore on the left and Dane Richards on the right were terrors in the Rev end, making runs that left the opposing defenders motionless. In one sequence, Jozy seemed to take on the entire Rev squad as he ran cross the entire field; sadly, it didn't end with a goal. Neither did any other Metro chances, as Juan Pablo Angel and Grandpa Doe could not finish; Angel did have a highlight-real backheel pass, but Doe could not convert.

On the other end, Metro clamped down the Rev attack. Usual Metro killers Taylor Twellman and Pat Noonan were made impotent by the much-maligned Metro defense. The central pairing of Stammler and Jeff Parke was especially superb.

Sadly, there was a third party in this match, and his name was Marrufo. We will close our eyes on two penalty non-calls, one in the first half and the other in the second. We will close our eyes on the uneven offside calls. We will close our eyes on corner kicks that became goal kicks. Those things are minor; they are not game-changing per se. Adding them up, however, paints a different picture. And when that picture is topped with a horrible non-call on a blatant handball by Avery John in the Revs' penalty area in second half injury time, it does not look pretty.

Still, heading into New England, a tie is better than a loss. But on this night, it sure felt like one.

Lineup: Conway, van den Bergh, Parke, Stammler, Freeman, Kovalenko, Reyna, Altidore, Richards, Doe, Angel. Subs: Ubiparipovic, Leitch, Mathis.

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