Mighty bleeping Metro conquers Colorado, 3:1
September 11, 2010

New York Colorado
09.11.10 · League

A promising Saturday afternoon turned into the perfect day at Red Bull Arena as the ever-improving Metro machine churned the Colorado Rapids defense to the tune of three goals. It was a game that had it all for the Metro supporter: star turns from each of the team's three designated players, excellent footwork and attacking play, and three fantastic scoring plays sure to be mentioned at the water cooler come Monday morning. With the exception of the first few minutes of the second half, it was a complete performance, one you would expect from a team eager to make its mark in the postseason.

"Clever" Hans Backe's team was bolstered by the return of four players from international duty. As a result, Backe trotted out what one would expect to be his first-choice squad for the remainder of 2010: goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul backstopping a 4-1-3-2 formation with defenders Chris Albright, Tim Ream, Carlos Mendes, and Roy Miller; designated player Rafa Marquez supporting a midfield consisting of Joel Lindpere, Tony Tchani, and Dane Richards; and, of course, the most expensive forward tandem in league history of Thierry Henry and Juan Pablo Angel.

Whether or not the gorgeous weather was a factor -- it was a perfect late summer afternoon, with temperatures hovering in the high 70s -- early play between the two sides was vibrant. Metro had the better of the initial scoring chances and accordingly broke through first in the 17th minute. After some mesmerizing ball movement between Henry and Lindpere, the sequence concluded with a nifty back-heel pass from the Estonian into the path of Henry, who raced toward the Colorado goal and powered the ball past an onrushing Matt Pickens. It was the irresistible, confident strike the Metro faithful have been looking for from the Frenchman since his arrival, and it came directly off the magical footwork he has displayed without reward in previous matches.

Only fifteen minutes would transpire before another impressive goal from an unlikely source gave Metro a two goal lead. On a designed play, Marquez sent a free kick well past the far post to Tchani, who then crossed the ball back across the face of goal directly to Rookie of the Year candidate Tim Ream. Ream, muscling past his marker, blasted a point-blank shot past the helpless Rapids defense; it was the sort of play you would expect to see in a video game -- the proverbial controller in this case in the hands of the Metro players themselves.

Perhaps in a bit of an unfortunate nod to last week's Jekyll and Hyde performance in Salt Lake, the Metro side that emerged from the tunnel to start the second half was far less energetic, appearing very tentative right from the whistle. Metro paid for their laid-back approach in the 52th minute when Omar Cummings looped a wonder goal into the upper left corner of the net over the diving Coundoul, the shot ricocheting off the bottom of the crossbar in just the right place to drop behind the goal line.

This would not be a day for disappointment, however, and despite Colorado's threatening play, Dane Richards would restore an unassailable two goal margin in the 58th minute. On the edge of the box, Henry tried to find Angel with a low cross, only to be picked off by a Colorado defender. Angel managed to get a foot in and deflected the ball out to Richards, who shook off his man and applied a finish becoming of his ballyhooed performance against Houston two years ago.

Assuming that the Salt Lake result was a fluke, the direct result of missing key players to international duty, the team that took the field today had the look of a serious contender in the MLS playoffs. A postseason berth is all but guaranteed as today's victory solidified Metro's hold on second place in the Eastern Conference; if this form is indicative of a team beginning to peak at the right time, there is justifiable cause for optimism going forward.

Lineup: Coundoul, Miller, Ream, Mendes, Albright, Marquez, Tchani, Lindpere, Richards, Henry, Angel. Subs: Stammler, Kandji.

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