Guevara vs New England
Obscure Metro Files: 2003 Open Cup
June 8, 2012

Say what you want about Metro's early years, but at least they took the Open Cup seriously. In fact, the team made the semifinals three of the first four years they entered (1997, 1998, and 2000). But in 2003, we were still waiting for that elusive trip to a final.

To get there, they would have to survive an arduous ordeal that went through three MLS teams. But in started in a town called Berkley, Michigan as Metro had to play the Mid-Michigan Bucks. The game came four days after Tim Howard's last game for Metro, so Jonny Walker made his debut in nets. The final result was 4:0, but the game was much closer than that, as Metro was up only a goal until the 83rd minute. That tally was a free kick from Amado Guevara, the late goals came from John Wolyniec, Mike Nugent (on his first touch as a Metro), and Jose Galvan. The latter two were the only goals scored in their Metro careers by the respective players.

So after the minor leaguers were dispatched, Metro had to travel to Columbus. The two teams had met three times in the tournament before, and it was the Crew who knocked out Metro the year prior. In 2003, an epic match followed that unfortunately was only seen by the sparse crowd in Crew Stadium. Edson Buddle scored two very early to put the Crew up, but ex-World Cup player Brian Maisonneuve put one into his own net to bring Metro within one. He then decided to score for his own team, doing so after the break. Metro responded through Steve Jolley, and tied the game on an Eddie Pope goal (his first as a Metro) in the 77th. Pope won it in the 86th (his last as a Metro) on a cross from Guevara to complete the miraculous comeback, 4:3.

In the quarterfinals, Metro drew New England and was given the opportunity to play at home. Giants Stadium was too expensive to open up for a sparse crowd, so Yurcak Field at Rutgers was selected. (Other Open Cup venues included Kean College, Uniondale on Long Island, and even Columbia University -- the site of the first (and only) game by MLS teams in New York City when Metro lost to Dallas in the 1997 semis.)

Clint Mathis opened the scoring for Metro, but the Revs responded from Jay Heaps. The teams went into golden goal overtime, where the Revs' Troll Franchino decided to punch ex-teammate Clint Mathis. Both were ejected, the teams were down to ten, and it was up to Guevara to play hero. El Lobo struck off a Mike Magee corner kick in the second extra time period to move Metro to the semifinals with a 2:1 victory.

And at the semifinals, they were to play the DC, once again at Rutgers. The Scum scored early through a hairy Bulgarian named Galin Ivanov. Guevara responded right after, and then got his second of the match on a free kick just before the break. It was his fourth goal of the competition to set season and career Open Cup records. The second half saw DC keeper Doug Warren red carded, and third stringer Jorge Geddes forced into action. The Scum did manage to tie the game through Ronald Cerritos, but that only set up the heroics of John Wolyniec. The Staten Island Ronaldo pounced on a ball sent in by Ricardo Clark, burying it for a 3:2 victory and the team's first final ever.

And that final was to be hosted at Giants Stadium. Yet the home-field advantage was anything but, as the announced crowd was 5,183. The opponent was Chicago, and the Fire could do very little to break through the Metro defense. Unfortunately, the one chance they had, they buried it, and Damani Ralph's goal in the 68th proved to be the only tally of the match. Metro's forward pairing of Mathis and Andrzej Juskowiak was awful, and we remember a Fire hand ball in the box not being called late... but it was not to be.

But at least they took the Open Cup seriously.

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