Metrostars 0-3 Dallas

I was long gone by the time the third goal was scored (it had to have been in about the zillionth minute of extra time, anyway), so I'm going to treat this like it was the 2-0 game that I left in the 90th minute.

If it had stayed 0-2, then I think this would have been about the one billionth soccer match where the visitors have won by that scoreline. You see, there are certain match templates, in the sense that they happen ALL THE TIME. There's the Dire 0-0 Draw, the 3-3 Shootout, the 1-0 Nail-Biter. This one is the 0-2 Perfect Away Match. Oddly, on the bus ride home, I saw an ad on the electronic billboard adjacent to the highway for the upcoming Liverpool-AS Roma friendly at Giants Stadium. I don't need to spend 60 bucks on that...I just saw the MLS version, with the Scousers winning on the road.

The first half was kind of gristly and the sort of thing you have to suffer through to get to the Metros 5-0 Los Angeles kind of matches. There was a lot of "Hey, that was a good idea" kind of stuff from the home side, but the execution just wasn't there. Specifically, the first touch after receiving a pass was what haunted the Metros all night...they just couldn't maintain control of the ball and DO something with it. It ended 0-0, but we did break through enough to force Scott Garlick into two decent saves. However, I don't think he was ever seriously threatened...he may be The Oldest 30-Year Old Ever (with the gray hair to prove it), but he's a terrific positional keeper from what I've seen, and he didn't have to do much to save the rare half-chances that we got.

What annoyed me throughout the evening was that the wing-backs -- Ricardo Clark and Cris Leitch -- made nice runs down the flanks all evening, and were left completely unmarked by the Dallas defense. It turned out to be a smart move, as nobody ever sent it out that way. Instead, the Metro midfield insisted on trying to smash through the wall of white that clogged the center of midfield and the Dallas penalty area. On the bright side, Clark is WAY too good to be rotting on the bench (even though he's probably better as a defensive holding midfielder than as a right back), and he's a SUPER-MEGA-RIDICULOUS BIGTIME upgrade over Craig "feel free to completely abuse me down this flank" Ziadie.

That said, Dallas came in with a game plan, and they executed it beautifully -- they shut the Metros down brilliantly, and tonight's loss (in my estimation) should be credited to their execution and defensive determination rather than accusing the home side of not playing well. They utilized a high-intensity press from the midfield on, and when they had the chance, used great one-touch passing to start counter-attacks. Speaking of which, they caught Leitch upfield, and Ronny O'Connor was wide-open on that flank. He had all the time in the world to pick his spot, and the resulting cross to Eddie Johnson (easily the MOTM) could only end with an easy tap-in goal. It was pretty much the only instance that I saw of our central defense combination of Eddie Pope and Jeff Parke losing their focus and allowing space inside the penalty area.

Of course, once the road team goes up 1-0 and are playing well defensively, you're heading into Perfect Road Match territory. The home team has to send more and more guys up in attack to try and equalize, and the visitors end up hitting back on the break to ice the game. Dallas should have went up 2-0 when a horrendous back-pass from Eddie Gaven was stolen by Johnson, but Jonny "Best Goalkeeper in MLS" Walker made a wonder save on the breakaway. However, with the base2/Downpore show tonight, I HAD to be on the first bus out. So, I was in the bathroom for Dallas' second goal, and on the bus for the third (assuming ESPNEWS was correct).

Whatever. Don't blame the Metros...they really weren't all that bad. They've definitely played worse and won, the first example being last weekend against a zombified Kansas City squad. Don't blame the referee...he was actually a B+ or so (all he really missed was the attempted open ligament surgery on John Wolyenic, but the linesman was looking right at it, and should have covered for him). To me, this was more a case of Dallas boring us to death and getting a result more than us handing them the game. At the very least, the second half was almost all one-way traffic (outside of the counter-attack goals), and we had some fantastic build-up play in the midfield. On the downside, our starting strike pair of Wolyenic and Sergio Galvan Rey were invisible (Galvan Rey having a nightmare match in particular), and their replacements (Fabian Taylor and Mike Magee) didn't end up as much of an upgrade (though we were much better once Galvan Rey left the field).

Still, DC United lost by the same scoreline, and the show was fucking great. So, the night was a wash, I'd say.


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