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E. RUTHERFORD, N.J.
7:30 pm ET (FSW; MSG; Comcast)
The MetroStars and Chicago Fire meet for the second time in three weeks, with Metro coach Bob Bradley still looking for a first victory against his former club after the Fire rolled to a 3-0 victory at Soldier Field. The MetroStars come into the match looking to shore up a suddenly leaky defense, having allowed eight goals in the last two matches, though they certainly scored their own share last weekend. The Fire are back atop the Eastern Conference after landing there with the victory against the Metros at home, now unbeaten in three games.
REFEREE: Ricardo Valenzuela. SAR (bench): Nathan Clement; JAR (opposite): Steven Taylor; 4th: Mark Geiger
MLS Career: 52 games; FC/gm: 35.4; Y/gm: 4.8; R: 22; pens: 16
Games involving MetroStars: P11 W6 L5 T0; FC/gm: 38.1; Y/gm: 5.0; R: 7; pens: 5
Games involving Fire: P15 W10 L3 T2; FC/gm: 37.4; Y/gm: 5.1; R: 6; pens: 4
INJURY REPORT: METROSTARS - OUT: DF Jeff Parke (L hamstring strain); FW Mike Magee (R hip flexor strain) ... CHICAGO FIRE - OUT: MD Jesse Marsch (R ankle cartilage damage); QUESTIONABLE: M Andy Williams (R thigh contusion); PROBABLE: DF Orlando Perez (lower back pain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
YELLOW PERIL: none
This is the second of the four meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals, the second of two in two weeks. The two will then play again twice in two weeks, at the Meadowlands on July 17 then in Chicago on July 31.
In the first meeting, three different forwards scored goals as the Fire continued their recent dominance of the MetroStars and former Chicago coach Bob Bradley. Since Bradley moved from Chicago to the MetroStars, the Metros haven't beaten the Fire in six league meetings (and also lost last year's U.S. Open Cup final).
Botswana international Dipsy Selolwane finished off a nice move through midfield in the 15th minute, before Damani Ralph doubled the lead after the break when he pounced on a poor clearance and sent it past Metro 'keeper Jonny Walker (56). Ante Razov then turned home a DaMarcus Beasley cross 13 minutes from time for the final Fire goal.
Here's Dave Sarachan's team (3-4-1-2): Henry Ring - C.J. Brown, Jim Curtin, Kelly Gray - Justin Mapp, Chris Armas, Logan Pause (Craig Capano 46), DaMarcus Beasley - Andy Williams (Scott Buete 82) - Damani Ralph, Dipsy Selolwane (Ante Razov 73).
Here's the team Bradley ran out (4-4-2): Jonny Walker - Craig Ziadie, Eddie Pope, Jeff Parke (Tenywa Bonseu 46), Chris Leitch - Joselito Vaca (Ricardo Clark 73), Amado Guevara, Mark Lisi, Eddie Gaven - Sergio Galvan Rey (John Wolyniec 60), Fabian Taylor.
A year ago, the Fire had the MetroStars' number, winning three of the four league meetings with a draw in the fourth. The Fire won 3-2 on June 14 in New Jersey (LeBlanc 82, Guevara 90 pen - Razov 31, 66; Ralph 61), then won 2-1 on an Ante Razov golden goal two weeks later at home (Ralph 35, Razov 94 - Clark 60).
They played to a 1-1 draw in Naperville on Aug. 9 (Ralph 22 - Jolley 86), then the Fire won 2-1 on Aug. 24 at the Meadowlands (Wolyniec 28 - Ralph 45, Razov 86).
The teams also met in the U.S. Open Cup final as the MetroStars chased the first trophy in club history, but Damani Ralph's 68th-minute goal gave the Fire a 1-0 victory at Giants Stadium.
The Fire haven't lost in the last seven league meetings between the teams, and in 11 of the last 12 encounters. The only Metro victory over the last three seasons came on June 22, 2002 at Cardinal Stadium (1-0). The Fire have won in their last six appearances at Giants Stadium in all competitions, dating back to Sept. 1, 2001.
Ante Razov leads the Fire's all-time list against the Metros with 10 goals, 4 assists - four of those goals coming last year. Razov also had a goal v Metro while in Los Angeles. Damani Ralph is second among current Fire players with 5 goals, 1 assist. DaMarcus Beasley and Jesse Marsch have also hit for multiple goals against the MetroStars (2 each), while Andy Williams has 1 goal, 8 assists.
On the all-time Metro list, only two players have hit for multiple goals against Chicago - neither still with the club (Eduardo Hurtado and Steve Jolley, 2 each). Joey DiGiamarino has 3 goals for his career v the Fire, none while with the Metros.
Coaches record: Dave Sarachan v MET P5 W4 D0 L1 ... Bob Bradley vs. CHI: P5 W0 D4 L1
ALL-TIME (17 meetings): Fire 12 wins (0 shootout), 33 goals ... MetroStars 4 wins (0 shootout), 19 goals ... 1 draw
It was a second wild game between the teams in as many seasons, the teams drawing 4-4 at Giants Stadium last year. The 10 goals scored in this year's meeting matched a total hit twice before in league history, one goal shy of the record 11 goals in the Los Angeles Galaxy 7-4 victory against Colorado in May 1998.
A long-range strike from Cornell Glen gave the MetroStars the lead after just six minutes, but Brian Ching finished off a cheeky backheel from Landon Donovan to pull the 'Quakes level seven minutes later. Chris Brown then scored his first San Jose goal to give the home side the lead (24), but barely a minute later Joselito Vaca hit a bomb from all of 25 yards to pull Metro level.
Donovan then finished off some neat juggling in tight quarters with a full volley to again put San Jose ahead (42), but another spectacular long-range blast from Fabian Taylor sent two minutes later sent the teams into the break on level terms.
Ronnie Ekelund converted from the penalty spot (57) to again give the Earthquakes the lead two minutes before Craig Waibel's first career MLS goal made it a two-goal margin, heading home a Jeff Agoos freekick. But Amado Guevara sent home a penalty just four minutes later to pull Metro to within one, then in stoppage time, Glen turned home an Eddie Gaven cross with a nifty side-foot stepover for the final equalizer.
Metro coach Bob Bradley made three changes to the team that lost 3-0 to the Chicago Fire the weekend before. Tenywa Bonseu came into the back four for the injured Jeff Parke, while Ricardo Clark came into the holding midfield role for Mark Lisi, and Cornell Glen was the preferred strike partner for Fabian Taylor, selected ahead of Sergio Galvan Rey.
Here's Bradley's team (4-4-2): Jonny Walker - Craig Ziadie, Tenywa Bonseu, Eddie Pope, Chris Leitch - Joselito Vaca (Sergio Galvan Rey 78), Ricardo Clark (Mark Lisi 85), Amado Guevara, Eddie Gaven - Cornell Glen, Fabian Taylor (John Wolyniec 64).
"The character of the team showed tonight," Pope said. "We could have given up when it was 5-3, but we fought back and got a point."
Amazingly, even Walker was impressed after the match: "That was one of the best games I have ever been involved in,: he said. "I have been a part of some meaningful and memorable games, but this one was great. Look at me, I am smiling after the game even though I ate five goals because Pat Onstad ate five too."
The MetroStars went without a victory for the third consecutive week after opening with a pair of wins, but it was in the most remarkable of circumstances, coming back from two goals down to secure a 5-5 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes at Spartan Stadium. The MetroStars have eight points from five matches, second place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Chicago Fire.
Chris Klein's shot past Henry Ring (9) - the first goal allowed by the Fire in three weeks - gave the Wizards a halftime lead. But Justin Mapp's angled shot from inside the area brought the visitors level just seven minutes after the break.
Davy Arnaud's blast after skipping around a defender again put the home side into the lead (64), but Dipsy Selolwane finally coaxed the ball over the line after a couple of desperate saves by Wizards 'keeper Tony Meola for an 83rd-minute leveller.
"I'm pleased with the composure we showed," Fire coach Dave Sarachan said. "To come back against a team like Kansas City that is playing at home shows our good composure."
Fire coach Dave Sarachan made two changes to the team that defeated the MetroStars 3-0 the weekend before, both injury-related. C.J. Brown suffered a knee injury in training leading up to the match, and was replaced by Evan Whitfield in the back three. Ante Razov returned from a groin strain and the first-choice strike pair was restored as Dipsy Selolwane returned to the substitute's bench.
Here's Sarachan's team (3-2-3-2): Henry Ring - Evan Whitfield, Jim Curtin, Kelly Gray - Logan Pause (Dipsy Selolwane 71), Chris Armas - Justin Mapp (Leonard Griffin 89), Andy Williams (Craig Capano 82), DaMarcus Beasley - Damani Ralph, Ante Razov.
"We felt we didn't play well in the first half," Sarachan said. "We wanted better ball movement, more passes and better urgency, which we did" in the second half.
After going the first 17 games between the two clubs with no draws, they've now drawn two in a row.
Although he was returned to the bench, Botswana international Selolwane scored his second goal in as many matches, and the third in his last six league games dating back to the final regular-season game a year ago. "Now we have a third threat at forward,'' Beasley said. "He can come off the bench and play well when Ante is starting. Having three is hard to stop. If our forwards are playing on all cylinders, we won't be beat."
Former Fire hero Frank Klopas will be the second player inducted into the team's Ring of Fire at Soldier Field.
The Chicago Fire maintained top spot in the Eastern Conference when they came from behind twice to secure a 2-2 draw with the Kansas City Wizards, the second draw between the clubs at Arrowhead Stadium this season. The Fire have nine points from six matches on the season, one ahead of the MetroStars.