Metro upsets Dallas 2:0 to advance
October 26, 2011
For all the turmoil Metro has faced over the years, one thing has been consistent: they haven't been able to get it done in the playoffs. Sure, there have been flashes, but 15 seasons have gotten us a total of three series wins. After tonight, make it four, as Metro bucked the trend, beating Dallas 2:0.
Sure, the newly-created play-in game was a one game series, and sure, it put Metro exactly where they were so many times before, in the final eight. But boy, does getting this one felt good.
And for a while, it looked like Metro had no chance. The first half hour featured a Dallas onslaught, but the Metro defense, as porous as it sometimes is, kept it cool. Then, slowly but surely, the tides started to turn.
Dallas' best chance came in the 59th minute, ex-Metro Daniel Hernandez hit the side netting on a corner kick. The play coincided with "Clever" Hans Backe's first substitution of the match, as Dax McCarty made way for the much-maligned Mehdi Ballouchy. Just two minutes later, Joel Lindpere sent in a low shot that Kevin Hartman parried. Dane Richards, starting at forward again, this time for the injured Luke Rodgers, kept the ball in play and got it to Ballouchy at the edge of the penalty area. The curly-haired Moroccan sent in a pass into the box, and an unmarked Lindpere burst in, slotting it into the net.
But now they had to close the game. And in the 79th minute, Jan Gunnar Solli made a costly mistake after being caught upfield, needlessly tackling Hernandez with two feet and earning a red card. One would think Dallas would play better than up a man; one would be wrong. It was Metro who had the best chances the rest of the way, with Hartman denying Thierry Henry from close range. Nine(!) minutes of injury time were added, and moments before the final whistle and with the entire Dallas team caught upfield, Titi found himself with the ball on a breakaway. Hartman made the initial save, but the ball kept trickling into the net, Henry nudging it on to set the final margin.
So, to the quarterfinals we go, to face top-seeded LA. It's a quick turnaround until Sunday, and Backe needs to use his clever, grizzled head to figure out what to do at right back with Solli out. But that's a worry for another time.
Tonight, this one felt good.
Lineup: Rost, Miller, Ream, Keel, Solli, Tainio, Marquez, Lindpere, McCarty, Richards, Henry. Subs: Ballouchy, Mendes.