Metro dominates, holds Hartford in Open Cup, 2:1
April 20, 2022
For the first time ever, Metro faced Hartford in a game that counts. (Wait a minute! Didn't we play Hartford back in 2017? Plucky the Whale made his way to Red Bull Arena? That might be correct, but the team Metro played that day actually played in East Hartford; Hartford Athletic, the opponent in the Open Cup tonight, plays in Hartford proper. Anyway, where were we?) After one of the most dominant halves in team history, Metro allowed one early in the second before holding off, 2:1.
Gerhard Struber made a statement by putting out mostly a first-choice lineup, with the only major difference being old Open Cup hero Ryan Meara starting for Carlos Coronel. Dylan Nealis also started, but somehow lasted only 32 minutes before being pulled for Tom Edwards.
By then, Metro was already comfortably up, 2:0. The first goal came in the 18th, a Lewis Morgan low trickler from deep that beat the Hartford kicker inside the near post. Seven minutes later, off a corner, an initial save was made, but the ball dropped to an unmarked Aaron Long in the center of the box. The captain did not miss.
It could have been worse... oh, it could have been much worse. Metro outshout Hartford 24:0 in the half, swarming the home side every time they tried to advance the ball. You could count on one hand the number of times Hartford got into Metro's defensive third. Alas, a two-goal lead is all Metro could get, but it wasn't for the lack of chances. Snake-bit Patryk Klimala had the best one, but his point-blank header was saved by the goalkeeper.
Then, sevens minutes after the break, on a rare Hartford venture forward resulted in a free kick close to the endline. It was sent back, and sent into the net. Just like that, Metro was in trouble.
They weren't, really, as Hartford couldn't produce anything the rest of the game. (They did hit the post on a long shot that Meara seemed to have covered.) Cristian Casseres got a needless red card deep into stoppage time after reacting to a terrible non-call, but that was it for late excitement.
At the end, the 2:1 scoreline was not exactly indicative of the disparity between the two teams, as Metro moved on to the Round of 32. It was closer than it should have been... but at least they took the Open Cup and Hartford seriously.
Lineup: Meara, Tolkin, Long, Nealis, Nealis, Amaya, Yearwood, Morgan, Fernandez, Luquinhas, Klimala. Subs: Edwards, Casseres, Ryan, Barlow.