MetroStars happy to grab a point
Tucked into the small interview room, away from the gale-force winds and pouring rain that played havoc with the ball, MetroStars head coach Bob Bradley called Saturday a crazy night, and praised his team for maintaining their concentration and earning a point against Real Salt Lake in a season-opening scoreless draw at Giants Stadium.
"It was pretty difficult in terms of stringing any real, meaningful passes together, but we still felt, all in all, that it was a solid effort," said Bradley. "It's really just about dealing with the conditions out there, keeping your concentration and adjusting. You can't plan for this."
From the opening kickoff, the ball was nearly impossible to control on the slick turf, and players fought the elements all night, mostly in vain, in an attempt to gain their footing.
One of the best scoring chances of the night was directly influenced by the wind, and came from the foot of goalkeeper Zach Wells, who needed defender Chris Leitch to hold the ball steady on a goal kick so that it wouldn't blow away. Wells boomed a tremendous shot that caught in the wind and flew almost 70 yards, landing at the feet of a charging Sergio Galvan Rey, who wasted perhaps the game's best opportunity with a weak shot at the goalkeeper.
Even Giants Stadium had trouble with the elements, as the lights flickered off in the 40th minute, forcing the last few minutes of the half to be played in the half-light of the auxiliary lights.
"The wind made it tough," said Eddie Gaven. "It was rough. I never really played in anything like that."
The two halves of the game presented unique challenges for the teams, who either enjoyed a strong wind at their back, or a biting wind blowing in their face. Ball control was nearly impossible without the use of very short passes, and as a result, the game was almost completely lacking in continuous movement by any single team.
"There were two or three times in the first half when I just touched the ball and it went right out of bounds," Gaven said. "Then, in the second half, I would send it long and it would come right back to me. It definitely wasn't your ordinary, everyday game."
With such an unpredictable set of circumstances, and an expansion team packed with scoring threats as the opponent, most of the MetroStars were happy with the single point.
"We competed well tonight, and we made it hard on them," forward John Wolyniec said. "They are a dangerous team, and we kept them from getting many chances."
Rich Schneider is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.