Metro completes city sweep, 2:0
August 9, 2015
The sign held aloft from the South Ward at full time said it all -- "3 games, 9 points, NY is RED". Even though NYCFC was finally able to trot out all three designated players, the visitors were kept off the scoresheet by a well-organized, defensively stout Metro team. The good guys tallied twice through Bradley Wright-Phillips and Felipe, bringing the season total to seven goals (four for Wright-Phillips) against the Bronx Bummers.
Jesse Marsch made only one change from the squad that drew away at Montreal midweek, making the obvious move to reinsert furious Frenchman Damien Perrinelle for Dax McCarty's dancing partner, Karl Ouimette. New designated player Gonzalo Veron was named to the 18, heightening anticipation over his Metro debut.
Despite the presence of a pair of European geriatrics in the center of their midfield, NYCFC started off the match with a whirlwind of attacking play, while the home team struggled to shake off fatigue from Wednesday's trip north of the border. It took only three minutes for Luis Robles' goal to be challenged, but high-profile City Football Group acquisition Frank Lampard was unable to rise to the occasion, misfiring wide left.
Metro found themselves on the back foot once again five minutes later as Angelino found Mix Diskerud unmarked in the box. The American international ripped a shot on the volley, but Robles held his ground in the center of goal to deny the chance.
After the first quarter hour of end-to-end play, Metro tightened their lines and went back to their usual high pressure system. Their renewed discipline was rewarded in the 21st minute, when Wright-Phillips found himself on the end of Kemar Lawrence's cross. While Diskerud was busy complaining to the ref about a phantom foul, the Metro midfield combined for a nice sequence that ended with Sacha Kljestan releasing Lawrence up the left flank. Jefferson Mena appeared to be well-placed to intercept the cross, but the Colombian whiffed on his attempt, leaving the ball to Wright-Phillips for the finish.
Even though both sides settled into the game as time wore on, the relentless tempo remained throughout the match. What followed after the opening goal was nearly seventy minutes of exciting play punctuated with strong defense, sharp passing... and utterly despondent decision making in the final third. The most painful instance came when Kljestan skied a perfect feed from Connor Lade, squandering an impressive sequence by the homegrown fullback.
After all the agony in front of goal, Felipe finally put the game out of reach in the 85th minute. Taking a pass from Mike Grella that seemed harmless (Grella was so upset with himself he pounded the turf during the play), Martins created himself a little space and fooled Josh Saunders, firing inside the near post just as the NYCFC keeper had stepped toward the center of goal. Immediately following the goal, Veron made his debut in place of Grella.
It was a big result on a big night, with national television coverage, a full house, and reports of record gate revenues at Red Bull Arena. The brutal slump in the early summer seems a distant memory with two new attacking options brought in during the transfer window, four wins and a draw in the last five matches, and the fifth-best points per game haul in the league. A dozen games remain and the narrative has shifted from whether this team could make the playoffs to how far they can go once they get there.
Lineup: Robles, Lawrence, Perrinelle, Miazga, Lade, McCarty, Martins, Kljestan, Grella, Sam, Wright-Phillips. Subs: Wright-Phillips, Davis, Veron.