Metro wins first Battle of New Jersey, 1:0
August 20, 2020
We've been waiting for this for a long time. It took 25 years, but there are now two MLS teams based in New Jersey. It seems strange, really, but we have to live with it. Let the intrastate rivalry begin!
It began in a good way, surprisingly. Coming off a lackluster performance in the Orlando tournament, not much was expected from this Metro team. Instead, what we saw was excellent defense and a fortunate decision that led to a 1:0 win over their blue neighbors.
After the failure of the two-forward setup, Chris Armas reverted to a single striker lineup. (However, that striker was converted midfielder Daniel Royer.) Tim Parker regained his starting spot at the expense of Amro Tarek. Marc Rzatkowski made the first start of the season, and Jared Stroud of the career, as Omir Fernandez and, strangely, Kaku were sent to the bench. Ryan Meara finally got to start in goal.
The blue Jerseyites started the game as the more active side, with Meara being called on early to make a quality save. Slowly, Metro started to control more of the game, and had an excellent chance late in the first off a free kick, when Royer, running in front of the open net, had the ball agonizingly drop behind him.
After failing to register a shot on goal until the 81st minute in their last match (and not at all the one prior), Metro was clearly told to shoot from outside the box. In the 59th minute, off a badly cleared ball, Kyle Duncan did just that. Sean Johnson failed to hold the ball, as it slipped out of his hands and crossed the line, where he fell on it and tried to push it out. Originally signaled no goal, it was reviewed by VAR and given.
After that, it was a defensive clinic by Metro. The blue Jerseyites failed to get a single good opportunity, with Meara earning his first league shutout win in over eight(!) years. It wasn't perfect, as the attack is clearly lacking. But after Orlando, it didn't have to be, as long as it ended with three points.
Welcome, our blue neighbors!
Lineup: Meara, Pendant, Parker, Long, Duncan, Casseres, Davis, Rzatkowski, Stroud, Valot, Royer. Subs: Romero Gamarra, Barlow, Fernandez, Egbo.