MetroStars welcome depleted Galaxy
E. RUTHERFORD, N.J.
8 pm ET (MSG; FSN-W)
Games involving the MetroStars have certainly been interesting since Alexi Lalas took over as chief executive - a win against Columbus where the teams kept trading goals has been followed by the MetroStars allowing late flurries of goals in a loss and a draw on the road. They play host to a Los Angeles Galaxy team that hasn't won on the road in more than a year, and facing a current five-game winless run without a number of regulars due to international duty and injury.
REFEREE: Abbey Okulaja. SAR (bench): George Vergara; JAR (opposite): C.J. Morgante; 4th: Gus St. Silva
MLS Career: 31 games; FC/gm: 30.9; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 3; pens: 10
Games involving MetroStars: P8 W3 L1 T4; FC/gm: 31.3; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 1; pens: 5
Games involving Galaxy: P7 W2 L3 T2; FC/gm: 30.4; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 0; pens: 2
INJURY REPORT: METROSTARS - OUT: MF Youri Djorkaeff (R hamstring strain); DF Tim Ward (L hamstring strain); GK Mike Ueltschey (R finger fracture); DOUBTFUL: MF Mark Lisi (heat exhaustion); QUESTIONABLE: FW Abbe Ibrahim (L knee torn lateral meniscus) ... LOS ANGELES GALAXY - OUT: DF Ben Benditson (sports hernia); QUESTIONABLE: DF Chris Albright (L knee MCL sprain); FW Joseph Ngwenya (sports hernia surgery); MF Guillermo Gonzalez (L quadriceps strain); MF Peter Vagenas (R hip flexor strain); FW Jovan Kirovski (L groin strain); PROBABLE: MF Ned Grabavoy (R hamstring strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: LA: FW Landon Donovan (USA; CONCACAF Gold Cup); DF Michael Umaña (Costa Rica; CONCACAF Gold Cup); DF Tyrone Marshall (Jamaica; CONCACAF Gold Cup); MF Guillermo Ramirez (Guatemala; CONCACAF Gold Cup)
WARNINGS: LA: Paulo Nagamura (18 CP)
ALL-TIME (24 meetings): MetroStars 10 wins (1 shootout), 34 goals ... Galaxy 11 wins (1 shootout), 36 goals ... 3 draws
AT GIANTS STADIUM (13 meetings): MetroStars 7 wins (1 shootout), 19 goals ... Galaxy 5 wins (1 shootout), 15 goals ... 1 draw
This is the second of the two meetings between the clubs this season, and the lone league meeting at Giants Stadium, both in just a little more than a month.
On June 4 at The Home Depot Center, a Galaxy side hit with numerous absences to injury and international duty saw a late MetroStars goal leave the teams sharing the spoils in a 2-2 draw, the visitors continuing their outstanding road form.
Abbe Ibrahim gave the MetroStars a lead after just five minutes, left free at the top of the six and allowed a clear header as a corner dropped right to him.
But then Cobi Jones - allowed to return to the Galaxy after having been earlier called in for the USA's World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica on Saturday - created a pair of goals within a quarter-hour. First Jones burst through on the right, and as he tried to push the ball past Zach Wells was tripped up by the MetroStars keeper. Jovan Kirovski neatly converted from the spot (19).
Then Jones gave the home side the lead with a wonderful goal. A long angled ball from all of 60 yards from left back Todd Dunivant found Jones on the right, and he hit a sublime side-foot first-time volley from the corner of the area over Wells and inside the far post.
But after the break the MetroStars pulled level as they still have just one loss on their travels. A neat pass from Mark Lisi split open the Galaxy defense, Sergio Galvan Rey running onto it before curling a shot past Kevin Hartman inside his left-hand post for the equalizer (72). The Galaxy haven't beaten the MetroStars in the last seven meetings between the clubs.
Here's Steve Sampson's team (4-4-2): Kevin Hartman - Ugo Ihemelu, Pablo Chinchilla, Troy Roberts, Todd Dunivant - Cobi Jones, Peter Vagenas, Paulo Nagamura, Ned Grabavoy (Herculez Gomez 46) - Ednaldo da Conceicao (Paul Broome 76), Jovan Kirovski.
Here's Bob Bradley's team (4-4-2): Zach Wells - Chris Leitch, Jeff Parke, Jeff Agoos, Tim Regan - Michael Bradley, Mark Lisi - Mike Magee, Amado Guevara - Abbe Ibrahim (Sergio Galvan Rey 46), John Wolyniec.
A year ago, the MetroStars claimed victories in all three meetings between the teams - the first time a season series had been swept by one team.
The MetroStars grabbed a 2-1 victory on June 19 on Victoria Street (Herzog 47 - Arena 42, Magee 90), then the teams traveled cross-country, where the Metros took a 3-0 win at The Meadowlands four days later (Guevara 16; Gaven 39, 43)
Then on Aug. 8, the MetroStars recorded a second consecutive clean sheet in the series, again winning 3-0, this time in Carson (Guevara 36 pen; Gaven 61; Wolyniec 64).
The Galaxy haven't won in the series in the last seven meetings over the last two-plus years, the MetroStars with four victories in that time (and three draws).
Coaches record: Bob Bradley v LA: P23 W9 L10 D4 ... Steve Sampson vs. MET: P1 W0 L0 D1
The MetroStars saw late goals cost them a victory for the second successive match, Real Salt Lake scoring twice in the final 11 minutes to comeback and claim a 2-2 draw at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Monday night. The MetroStars now find themselves in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 21 points from 15 matches, one behind D.C. United and Kansas City Wizards in joint third place, and 11 points out of the first-place tie between New England and Chicago.
Real Salt Lake overcame a man disadvantage as the MetroStars saw a late lead evaporate for the second consecutive match.
Just before the halftime break, Sergio Galvan Rey fired a shot that RSL 'keeper D.J. Countess couldn't handle, but Ante Razov slipped in to pound the rebound home for his third goal since joining the MetroStars. Then seconds later, Real defender Brian Dunseth was sent off with a straight red for a foul on Eddie Gaven.
After the break, the MetroStars quickly took advantage and doubled their lead, Mike Magee scoring his first goal since last Sept. 11 after being set up by Eddie Gaven.
But a poor clearance led to Real getting a goal back in the 79th minute. Substitute Seth Trembly took a pass at the corner of the area and curled a shot past the outstretched Zach Wells into the side netting. Then just before the clock ticked over 90 minutes, Jason Kreis was taken down by Metro defender Carlos Mendes in the area, and he calmly buried his own spot kick for his 97th career goal and a share of the points for his team.
MetroStars coach Bob Bradley made three changes to the team that saw a 2-1 lead evaporate in a 4-2 loss to the New England Revolution the previous weekend. Carlos Mendes came back into the back four for Tim Regan, while Ante Razov also returned to the team from injury, for the ailing Youri Djorkaeff. Eddie Gaven also made his first start in four games, coming into midfield for the suspended Amado Guevara.
Here's Bradley's team (4-4-2): Zach Wells - Chris Leitch, Jeff Parke, Carlos Mendes, Jeff Agoos - Michael Bradley, Mark Lisi - Mike Magee (Tim Regan 87), Eddie Gaven - Sergio Galvan Rey, Ante Razov
"It was a disappointing result, obviously," Bradley said. "A two-goal lead and chances to get the third goal, I don't think we did a good enough job at being disciplined in a way we went about going for the third goal."
After the match there was a scare for the MetroStars as midfielder Mark Lisi was taken to a Salt Lake City hospital after collapsing in the locker room with chest pain and difficulty breathing. The preliminary reports were that team doctors thought the pain was the result of the heat and the altitude. He is listed as doubtful for this weekend's match.
Striker Abbe Ibrahim could be ready to play this weekend, but Bradley is waiting to see how he reacts to training during the week. "We'll see how he progresses over the next two days," he said on Wednesday. "But he's getting close."
However, former French international Youri Djorkaeff will likely be unavailable for the Galaxy match. "I don't think so," Bradley said. "We're probably still another week away.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
The Los Angeles Galaxy saw their winless run extended to five games in the most heart-breaking of fashion, a goal from the New England Revolution with the last kick of the game leaving the teams with a 1-1 draw on Monday night at The Home Depot Center. The point left the Galaxy tied for second place with 25 points from 16 games with the San Jose Earthquakes, nine points behind MLS overall leader FC Dallas.
Both the Galaxy and Revolution saw their first-choice lineups hit hard by national team call-ups and injury and the final pass was just off all night long as teams labored to create any quality chances.
That changed three minutes from time when Herculez Gomez collected a pass on the right and swung in a perfect cross to the far post where rookie Michael Enfield - making just his second professional appearance - dove to head home the seeming winner.
But the Revolution showed the resilience that has left them with just one loss this season. Four minutes deep into stoppage time, Joe Franchino swung in a free kick from the left that Taylor Twellman headed down. Sharlie Joseph slipped it past a defender with the slightest of touches and Andy Dorman was there to sweep it past Kevin Hartman. Still, the Revolution haven't won at the Galaxy since a July 4 win in the inaugural MLS season of 1996.
Galaxy coach Steve Sampson made three changes to the team that lost 3-0 to the San Jose Earthquakes the previous weekend. Pablo Chinchilla came into the back four for fellow Costa Rican Michael Umaña, away on national team duty. Jovan Kirovski failed a pre-match fitness test, and he was replaced by Ned Grabavoy, while Alan Gordon came into attack for Landon Donovan, also on international duty.
Here's Sampson's team (4-4-2): Kevin Hartman - Ugo Ihemelu, Pablo Chinchilla, Tyrone Marshall, Todd Dunivant - Cobi Jones (Michael Enfield 81), Ned Grabavoy, Paulo Nagamura, Guillermo Ramirez (Mubarike Chisoni 62) - Ednaldo da Conceicao, Alan Gordon (Herculez Gomez 64).
"It could've been very special tonight. It could've been very special for Mike Enfield. It could've been very special for the Galaxy to have beaten the Revolution. One lapse of concentration, one mistake, and we tie the match. It seems a bit unfair but that's the reality of this game," Sampson said. "We can't continue to make silly mistakes in the back. I don't care if it's in the 40th minute or the 90th minute. It's a very disappointing evening for us. We basically threw away two points. So to say that I'm disappointed is an understatement and the way it was done even more so."
The Galaxy had asked U.S. national team boss Bruce Arena to release Landon Donovan for the Revolution match, but he was not let go from the team's CONCACAF Gold Cup camp. The Galaxy will be without all four of their Gold Cup internationals - including Tyrone Marshall (Jamaica), Guillermo Ramirez (Guatemala) and Michael Umaña (Costa Rica) beginning with the trip to New Jersey.
"We just have to continue to plug away and put this behind us and continue to work. None of us are going to stop or stop believing. You can see we can play with any team in this league, especially here," Sampson said. We know that they were without players but certainly we were without a lot of players as well. The key for us is getting healthy. Getting Chris Albright healthy. Getting Joseph Ngwenya and Alan Gordon 100% healthy. Pete Vagenas and Jovan Kirovski. I'm confident that as we get healthy that this team will be a contender and a strong contender."
With the number of players that will be missing over the course of the next month, some reserves stepped up and showed they could fill the void, none more than Grabavoy in the center of midfield.
"I think Ned Grabavoy, for not having played with the first team, gave us a sense of rhythm, a sense of pause in the midfield," said Sampson. "I think Alan Gordon, who made his first start for this team, did some great stuff for us tonight and just ran out of gas."
In addition, the Galaxy have just four natural defenders available for the MetroStars match - two rookies (Ugo Ihemelu and Troy Roberts), one in his first MLS season (Pablo Chinchilla), and MLS greybeard Todd Dunivant (in his third season)."We're thin at the back this week and a couple of guys are going to have to play some different roles for us," said Sampson.
Sampson has been exploring options if there is any injury in the back, of course. "We've been training for the past month or so with Josh Gardner as a left back," Sampson said. "We have to continue this week to look at a couple of additional options."
The road doesn't get any easier either - literally. The Galaxy's next game is away at the MetroStars, and so far this season, the Galaxy have managed just one point away from The Home Depot Center, that coming to conclude a winless four-game road swing before the New England match.