E. RUTHERFORD, N.J.
6 pm ET (MSG; FSN-SW)
The team currently on the best form in MLS plays host to a team that has been maddeningly inconsistent over recent weeks. The MetroStars come into the match riding a three-match winning streak (and five-game unbeaten run), having beaten the other two teams at the top of the MLS overall table in their last two outings while also pulling into a large lead atop the Eastern Conference. But the Dallas Burn haven't won back-to-back games in more than two months - yet they haven't lost back-to-back games, either, over that stretch.
REFEREE: Andrew Chapin. SAR (bench): Tom Supple; JAR (opposite): Bahij Salman; 4th: Ken Heller
MLS Career: 2 games; FC/gm: 29.5; Y/gm: 5.5; R: 2; pens: 1
Games involving MetroStars: first game
Games involving Burn: first game
INJURY REPORT: METROSTARS - OUT: MD Michael Bradley (R foot stress fracture); MD Gilberto Flores (L ankle ruptured tendon); DF Craig Ziadie (L knee LCL sprain); DOUBTFUL: FW Fabian Taylor (R knee LCL sprain) ...DALLAS BURN - QUESTIONABLE: DF Cory Gibbs (bruised ribs); FW Toni Nhleko (hip flexor)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: MET: Pablo Brenes (Costa Rica Olympic team)
YELLOW PERIL: MET: Amado Guevara (18 CP) ... DAL: Carey Talley (9 CP in 2 gms); Clarence Goodson (10 CP in 2 gms)
The clubs meet for the first time in second meetings this year, the second of two in New Jersey. They'll meet for the only time at the Cotton Bowl on Sept. 25.
In their first meeting, the Burn claimed a 2-0 victory at the Meadowlands, again striking with a lethally quick counterattack to score two second-half goals as Ronnie O'Brien played provider on both goals.
On the first (51), he played a neat 1-2 with Eddie Johnson before getting to the byeline to cut back a low ball to the corner of the six that Johnson swept home. Then, just as the clock ticked over 90 minutes, O'Brien quick pass set Toni Nhleko free to race in alone on Metro 'keeper Jonny Walker, and just minutes after failing on a similar attempt he made no mistake in rounding him to slot home with ease.
Here's Bob Bradley's team (4-4-2): Jonny Walker - Ricardo Clark, Jeff Parke, Eddie Pope, Chris Leitch - Joselito Vaca, Amado Guevara, Mark Lisi, Eddie Gaven - John Wolyniec (Mike Magee 69), Sergio Galvan Rey (Fabian Taylor 55).
Here's Colin Clarke's team (4-4-2): Scott Garlick - Philip Salyer, Cory Gibbs, Steve Jolley, Chris Gbandi - Ronnie O'Brien, Carey Talley (Oscar Pareja 82), Simo Valakari, Brad Davis (Matt Behncke 76) - Eddie Johnson, Jason Kreis (Toni Nhleko 70).
A year ago, the MetroStars won the first two matches before the teams played a remarkable scoreless draw. On May 24 at Dragon Stadium, Metro came back to snatch a late 2-1 victory (Kreis 63 - Mathis 60, Jolley 84), then they won by the same scoreline, again thanks to a late comeback and this time on a John Wolyniec golden goal (Magee 84, Wolyniec 95 - Davis 26)
The teams then played to a scoreless draw on Oct. 11, as three penalty kicks were saved, two by Dallas 'keeper D.J. Countess (Amado Guevara 2, Clint Mathis 86), then one by Metro 'keeper (Eddie Johnson 88).
The MetroStars have not lost in the last four meetings against the Burn, winning three in a row before the scoreless draw last year. The MetroStars have also won their last two games in Dallas.
Only three current MetroStars have scored goals against Dallas - John Wolyniec (2 goals, 1 assist), and Mike Magee and Eddie Pope (1 goal each). Clint Mathis is the Metro all-time leader against the Burn with 9 goals, 1 assist.
Jason Kreis is the all-time Burn leader with 11 goals, 6 assists. Only two other Burn player has more than 1 goal against the MetroStars - Eddie Johnson has 2 goals, while Carey Talley has 2 goals, 2 assists (but none with Dallas). Oscar Pareja is one of four Burn players with 1 goal v Metro, but also has 8 assists.
Coaches record: Bob Bradley vs. DAL: P21 W10 L9 D2 ... Colin Clarke v MET: P2 W1 L0 T1
ALL-TIME (19 meetings): MetroStars 10 wins (1 shootout), 29 goals ... Burn 10 wins (0 shootout), 37 goals ... 1 draw
AT MEADOWLANDS: MetroStars 5 wins (1 shootout), 14 goals ... Burn 5 wins, 18 goals ... 1 draw
It was the second 3-0 victory of the season for Metro against the Galaxy. Earlier in the year, the Metros had knocked off the Galaxy 3-0 at The Home Depot Center four days after a 2-1 victory at The Meadowlands.
Amado Guevara moved into a tie for the MLS goalscoring lead when he converted from the penalty spot for the sixth time in six tries this season (36), after John Wolyniec was bundled over deep in the box by Tyrone Marshall. The goal extended Guevara's point-scoring streak to nine matches and firmly entrenched him atop the Budweiser Scoring Leaders.
In the second half, Metro put away the match with two goals in four minutes. A wonderful pass from Mike Magee sent Eddie Gaven through alone on goal and the teenager coolly slotted it past Kevin Hartman (61).
Then in the 64th minute a long searching free kick from Guevara found Cornell Glen on the left side of the area, and his low cross was volleyed home by Wolyniec from the spot in a tremendous goal. The Galaxy were left a man down for the final quarter of the match after Chris Albright was sent off for a nasty challenge on Chris Leitch.
"It was definitely a little more physical today for some reason," said Gaven. "That's fine. I think maybe our team raises our level of play when the game is that physical because we played really well today and won 3-0."
MetroStars head coach Bob Bradley made no changes to the team that defeated the Kansas City Wizards 2-1 in their last game, before the All-Star break. Here's Bradley's team (4-4-2): Jonny Walker - Tenywa Bonseu, Jeff Parke, Eddie Pope, Chris Leitch - Joselito Vaca, Amado Guevara (Mark Lisi 86), Eddie Gaven - Mike Magee (Ricardo Clark 82) - Cornell Glen, John Wolyniec (Sergio Galvan Rey 86).
The Metro streak has coincided with Guevara playing in more of a holding role in midfield. "Amado certainly has been one of the best - if not the best - players in the league up until now," Bradley said. "It's brought the best out of him. You're looking to get your best players to step up and take bigger roles and assume more responsibilities. It's made a tremendous difference to our team. ... I've asked him to play more of a two-way role and in recent games to play more of a defensive role because he's very good in winning the ball and closing down other players in the midfield."
In his first five penalty kicks, Guevara shot to the goalkeeper's right. But in beating Hartman, he went the other way. "(MetroStars goalie Jonny) Walker told me yesterday to try to shoot a different way," Guevara said. "He told me to take my time to see which way the goalkeeper is ... leaning towards, and that's what I did today."
The expected onslaught of national team absences will be after this weekend, with a number of MetroStars already called in for next Wednesday's round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers.
Guevara has been called for Honduras' match against Costa Rica, and Craig Ziadie has been included in Jamaica's team, but his knee injury will likely rule him out.
Cornell Glen has been called in to Trinidad & Tobago's team for St. Vincent & Grenadines, playing 65 minutes for the Soca Warriors
The MetroStars won for the third consecutive week and extended their unbeaten run to five matches, increasing their lead in the Eastern Conference to seven points and moving within a point of the best overall record in the league, defeating the Los Angeles Galaxy 3-0 at Giants Stadium last Sunday. The Metros have 32 points from 20 matches, tied with the Kansas City Wizards in the MLS overall table, one behind Los Angeles.
The Revs scored after just three minutes, Pat Noonan turning home a low ball pulled back from the byeline by Steve Ralston for his eighth goal of the season and third in as many matches.
But then New England was put on the back foot for long stretches, though the Burn couldn't find their way past Revs 'keeper Matt Reis, who was credited with seven saves. The visitors then scored twice late on the break, Taylor Twellman turning home an Andy Dorman pass in the 87th minute before the rookie midfielder scored his first professional goal four minutes into stoppage time.
Dallas head coach Colin Clarke was forced into three changes to suspensions following the dramatic 1-0 victory on a late stoppage-time penalty against the Colorado Rapids the previous Saturday. Brad Davis and Simo Valakari were sent off during the match and Carey Talley surpassed the caution point limit. Milton Reyes came in at right back for Talley, while Jordan Stone and Eric Quill replaces Valakari and Davis in the midfield.
Here's Clarke's team (4-1-3-2): Jeff Cassar - Milton Reyes (Bobby Rhine 72), Cory Gibbs, Steve Jolley (Clarence Goodson 88), Chris Gbandi - Jordan Stone - Ronnie O'Brien, Oscar Pareja, Eric Quill (Ramon Nunez 58) - Eddie Johnson, Jason Kreis.
The Burn once again struggled against a team playing with a five-man midfield, though the Revolution compounded the issue by playing with a flat back four and Taylor Twellman as a lone forward.
"We fell asleep three minutes into the game, which is disgraceful," Clarke said. "Then they fed us a problem to solve, and we didn't do a good job of answering it." Said Ronnie O'Brien: "We've struggled against five in the midfield all year, there's no reason denying it."
The loss - and thus the inability of Clarke's team to establish any sort of consistency - was particularly troubling in its drive to move into the top part of the Western Conference.
"We talked about this [Tuesday]. Where do we see ourselves? Who are we battling with?" Clarke said. "People say we're battling with Colorado or San Jose. Well, why can't we be battling with Kansas City or L.A.? We had a great opportunity tonight to put ourselves in that position to battle with L.A. and Kansas City and we weren't able to grasp that and do it.
On Thursday night, the club will announce its new name and color scheme, in anticipation of the team's move to the Frisco Soccer & Entertainment Complex next season.
The Dallas Burn continued their recent up-and-down form, falling 3-0 at home to the New England Revolution on Wednesday at the Cotton Bowl. The Burn lost no ground in the Western Conference though, remaining tied with the Colorado Rapids for third place with 26 points from 20 matches, still two points ahead of last-place San Jose Earthquakes and seven behind West leaders Los Angeles Galaxy.