Obscure Metro Files: Chris Megaloudis and Matthew Mbuta
December 31, 2012
Sadly, the 2008 season stands high on the list of Metro successes. After all, it ended with a surprise appearance in the MLS Cup, preceded by holding the glorious Western(!) Conference championship trophy. The fact that Metro only made the playoffs after getting crushed in Chicago in a must-win game can be glossed over (we have to thank Columbus for beating DC Scum on the season's final weekend). So, yes, 2008. Crappy regular season, terrible signings (Oscar Echeverry, Jorge Rojas, Juan Pietravallo, Gabriel Cichero), mind-boggling coaching by Juan Carlos Osorio, the best playoff run in club history. Oh, Metro success!
In all of that, two players are lost in most memory (although how we wish we could forget the four mentioned above): Chris Megaloudis and Matthew Mbuta. Yet somehow, these two, who played and produced very little for Metro or elsewhere, are both current internationals. Go figure.
So, yes, Megaloudis. The forward's college career ended in 2005, and he bummed around the USL for a couple of seasons before earning a preseason tryout with Metro in 2008. That turned into a deal signed on the eve of the regular season. The forward was not exactly high in the picking order, so he had to wait for his turn. That turn came in June, when Juan Pablo Angel got injured. Megaloudis was all ready to get a game... except he got called up. By Puerto Rico.
Yes, the Queens-born Megaloudis, the son of a Greek father, was eligible to play for the island nation because of his mother. So off to Puerto Rico he went, scoring in a 2:2 World Cup qualifier against Honduras. But that was it for his real Metro chance. In the next game, Osorio completely reshuffled the lineup (surprise!), partnering Echeverry with Dane Richards up top. Megaloudis did come in as a sub for Richards, and, as we wrote at the time, "barely touched the ball". This would be his only league appearance for Metro. Megaloudis did play the full game in the ill-fated Open Cup loss at Crystal Palace Baltimore... which featured a played named Andongcho Matthew Mbuta.
The Cameroonian midfielder/forward impressed the Metro brass so much that he got some time with the reserves was offered a deal in September. A veteran of the Malaysian(!) league where he played for a team based in Brunei(!), his signing meant that a player had to be jettisoned... and that player was Megaloudis.
Unlike the player he was replacing, Mbuta was given a chance and made a splash immediately. Four minutes after making his debut against Colorado, Mbuta tied a wild game at 4:4, scoring off a cross from Mac Kandji. Sadly, Metro would lose on a late goal.
Mbuta would make one more appearance the rest of the season, starting against Columbus. He then survived the offseason, and appeared in 12 games in 2009, starting twice. That goal four minutes into his Metro career proved to be his only tally for the club... until injury time in the last game of the ill-fated 2009 season. With Metro up 4:0 on Toronto, Kandji earned a penalty kick and allowed Mbuta to take it. That would be the final goal ever scored at Giants Stadium.
And the final hurrah for Mbuta as well, as he was released the following offseason. His travels sent him back to Baltimore, then on to Romania, Sweden, and now Thailand, where he turns out for the scarily-named Army United FC. It also took him to the Cameroonian national team, where he scored the loan goal on his debut in a 1:0 win over Macedonia.
Megaloudis became a world traveler as well, playing for a minor Serbian team. Most of his playing days have been spent with clubs in Puerto Rico, as well with the local Rough Riders and FC New York. He continues to turn out for Puerto Rico, just like Mbuta for Cameroon... but as far as Metro goes, they are anything but not obscure.