Really good refereeing helps Metro to 2:1 win
September 13, 2008

New York Salt Lake
van den Bergh
09.13.08 · League

To say we're biased at MetroFanatic is to put it lightly. Ever since this website was launched, we've seen things from one perspective: Metro's. Other teams, the league office, TV announcers, other team's fans... We could care less. In fact, we will point out the faults in each every time an occasion presents itself. And the referees? Oh, don't get us started on the referees.

But tonight is different. For tonight, the highest praise goes to referee Kevin Stott, so often the recipient of malice on this website. Tonight, Mr. Stott kept his whistle in check on two close calls that could have gone either way, helping Metro earn a 2:1 comeback victory over Salt Lake. Thanks, Mr. Stott! After years of hurting Metro, you finally came through! See, even in praising you, we can't help but degrade you just a tad.

So on to the game. Juan Carlos Osorio trotted out a 3-5-2 formation, with Kevin Goldthwaite, returning from suspension, at left back; last week's goat Diego Jimenez sat, as did Chris Leitch. John Wolyniec started up front, and Sinisa Ubiparipovic went to the bench. Seth Stammler missed the game with the injury, but Osorio elected to go with one defensive midfielder, Juan Pietravallo, and two attacking ones -- Mike Magee, returning from his staph infection, and Jorge Rojas, coming back from international duty.

After some early-game jitters, the Metro attack went into high gear. Juan Pablo Angel just missed running onto a hard Dane Richards shot, and Magee missed on a wide-open header off a perfect serve by Dave van den Bergh.

On the other end, things weren't as good. The Salt Lake attackers kept stretching the Metro defense, beating the offside trap. On one occasion early, Jon Conway had to come out of the nets to stop a breakaway. He wasn't so lucky in the 38th minute. Gabriel Cichero lost a header, which went to RSL's Yura Movsisyan. Goldthwaite couldn't catch up, Conway couldn't save, and just like that, Metro was down. And just before the break, the lead almost became two, as an eerily similar situation saw Movsisyan push the ball high.

But a one-goal lead is not that difficult to conquer when the referee sees things your way. So, four minutes into the second half, Angel received a pass up the left side from Goldthwaite, fought off Jamison Olave, and slotted it into the net. On many nights, Angel's push would have been called a foul (to our eyes, Olave dived), and the play would have been whistled dead. Not tonight. Tonight we were tied.

Metro had chances to go ahead; Wolyniec stole the ball at the edge of the box and shot just high, and then Angel, after a Magee dummy, forced a save. Then, off a corner kick in the 64th minute, the ball went back to Cichero, who badly whiffed. Richards jumped on the ball and sent a pass into the box to van den Bergh, who was even with the last RSL player; on a worse day, that call could have gone the other way. The tougher call might have been with Wolyniec, who was ahead of the last defender (to our eyes, it was passive). It doesn't matter really, for Mr. Stott said play on, and just like that, the Walking Dutchman put in his sixth of the season past the stupefied Nick Rimando.

Metro now had the lead, and kept it after a huge late save by Jon Conway that rebounded off the post and out. Former Metro hero Clint Mathis played for Salt Lake as a late sub.

It's funny, however. We remember a match in Salt Lake in 2005 when a ridiculous penalty call tied the game for the home side. We remember a match last year, when RSL tied Metro on a late goal that should not have counted. So call it karma, call it a gift from the referee, but we'll just call it a victory. A victory that we'll gladly take.

Lineup: Conway, Goldthwaite, Cichero, Parke, Pietravallo, van den Bergh, Richards, Rojas, Magee, Wolyniec, Angel. Subs: Leitch, Mendes.

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