Metros hope strong play extends vs. L.A.

Bob Bradley says that each game is different, each situation unique. But the one thing that has remained a constant for the MetroStars is their recent trend of giving up two-goal leads.

In the Metros' last home game, a 3-2 win against the Columbus Crew on June 18, the club twice had two-goal leads but saw Columbus rally twice.

The MetroStars stunned host New England, taking a 3-1 lead June 25 before giving up three goals in the final 18 minutes. And on July 4, the Metros led 2-0 and were a man up at Real Salt Lake before giving up a pair of goals in the last 12 minutes in a 2-2 draw.

"I think it's a lack of concentration, a lack of discipline. I felt the (Real Salt Lake) game, when we did go ahead 2-0 it seemed like everybody had the green light to go forward and we lost track of what we were supposed to do," Metros midfielder Mark Lisi said. "That comes maybe with some immaturity on this team. We have to be disciplined in those situations because we're too good of a team to give up two-goal leads with 11 minutes left."

In a tight Eastern Conference, with just one point separating third-place D.C. United from the fifth-place MetroStars, those could be a costly five points the club lost out on in their last two games.

"What we've been talking about and working on is a little bit more of game management, being a little bit smarter during the game and staying a bit more compact," said Metros defender Chris Leitch. "Even though we are 2-0 up, we have to make sure we stay 2-0 up and not let them sneak back in and get a goal. As we've seen, once they get the first goal then it gets tight. 2-0 is like 1-0."

The Metros will look to stop that trend Saturday against a Los Angeles Galaxy side that has one point from six games away from The Home Depot Center and is missing several starters, including Landon Donovan, Tyrone Marshall and Guillermo Ramirez to the Gold Cup.

But Jovan Kirovski and Peter Vagenas are expected to return and that should greatly boost an offense that has struggled of late.

"We know (how dangerous they are) because we won a bunch of games over the years when we were missing players," Bradley said. "We had a game like that in Colorado this year where it would have been easy to look at who was not there but the mentality of the team is really strong, we played well and won 3-1."

The Metros have had their share of success against Los Angeles the last couple of years, having won all three meeting a year ago and playing to a 2-2 draw at The Home Depot Center on June 4.

"We've been able to get good results against them, I don't know what it is," Leitch said. "We've been able to get a lot of points from them and hopefully we can continue that. It's not easy."

The MetroStars are one of the rare MLS teams not affected by the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but that doesn't mean they will field their top 11 Saturday night. Youri Djorkaeff and defender Tim Ward are both out with a hamstring strains.

Third-string goalkeeper Mike Ueltschey has a broken finger, which puts Tony Meola on the bench as Zach Wells' backup and Mark Lisi, who collapsed in the locker room Monday and was taken to a hospital in Salt Lake for observation, is doubtful with what is being listed as heat exhaustion.

But the Metros could see the return of rookie striker Abbe Ibrahim, who has been upgraded to questionable following surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee. Amado Guevara also returns after serving a one-game suspension for an accumulation of caution points.

Lisi said he felt good following Friday's training session. He has taken tests throughout the week -- an EKG, an MRI and blood work was done -- but the test results are not in yet.

"I trained today. It's something that happened and I'm trying not to think about it," Lisi said. "Obviously if something was seriously wrong, I think I would know by now. I'm just trying to put it behind me and concentrate on what we have going on here."

Five years ago, when he was with D.C. United, Lisi also felt shortness of breath and chest pain. He said extensive tests were done then, but the results were inconclusive.

"From what I hear from these guys, they were all worried," Lisi said of his teammates Monday. "My parents were there and obviously you don't want them to see that. But to hear the guys were crying and saying prayers, it obviously means a lot to me that they were there, next to me and that they cared. I thanked them for being there and helping out."

Dylan Butler is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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