Wolyniec may start for MET vs. L.A.

Who's that standing with the fourth official?

It's a bird.

It's a plane.

It's ... Super Sub!

It's a part he played in 2003 and it appears John Wolyniec is once again assuming that role for the MetroStars this year.

Wolyniec has two goals this year, both coming off the bench. Against undefeated New England May 21 at Giants Stadium, Wolyniec put the Metros in front less than three minutes after replacing Youri Djorkaeff.

Mike Magee's end line cross bounced off his knee and past Revs 'keeper Matt Reis to give the Metros a short-lived 2-1 lead in the 83rd minute.

And with his team trailing 1-0 Tuesday night, Wolyniec again replaced Djorkaeff and again scored a pivotal goal. This time he headed in Amado Guevara's free kick in the 76th minute.

"It's definitely a boost. Whenever you see him come on, you know you're going to get someone who gives 110 percent, chase balls down, defend, make runs in the box," Metros midfielder Mark Lisi said. "He definitely rubs off on other players. If we're having a lackluster performance, he's that guy who can get the team going a bit."

Wolyniec first became known as Super Sub two years ago. With the Metros trailing New England 3-0 July 12, 2003, Wolyniec scored in the 66th minute -- three minutes after he replaced Jaime Moreno -- and sparked his club to a 3-3 draw.

Possibly the defining moment of his career -- and certainly the best goal he's ever scored -- came on Sept. 20, 2003, in a pivotal game against the Columbus Crew. In a scoreless game, Wolyniec replaced Clint Mathis at the start of overtime and in the closing seconds of the game scored what was the runner up for MLS Goal of the Year.

He latched onto a long Guevara free and, in stride, blasted home a remarkable first time strike to give the Metros a 1-0 lead.

"I don't know how many times we watched that," Lisi said of the tape of that goal.

And like Peter Parker or Clark Kent, Wolyniec doesn't quite look the part of superhero. With a head almost entirely of gray hair, Wolyniec is 28 going on 43. But when he's in and around the box and the Metros desperately need a goal, Super Sub comes to the rescue.

"People always say you're not that fast, you're not this, you're not that, but I just try and do as many things I can on the field," Wolyniec said. "The most important thing is that I've been in the right spots."

Ironically, Wolyniec may abandon his role Saturday night when the Metros take on the Los Angeles Galaxy at The Home Depot Center.

With Eddie Gaven training with the U.S. Under-20 national team and Djorkaeff out with a strained left calf, Wolyniec may see his No. 15 in the starting lineup for the fifth time this year. Although Wolyniec won't know that until about an hour before kickoff, as per head coach Bob Bradley's usual game day routine.

Either way, he'll be ready.

"It's hard when you're not in the starting lineup after you work all week to get in there, but at the same time Bob keeps me involved and lets me know that some games presents itself that I'd be more valuable coming off the bench," Wolyniec said. "If that's the case then I have to prepare myself to perform well whenever the situation might come about."

Starter or sub, Wolyniec is looking forward to stepping foot onto the pitch at the HDC. The Metros have won two straight, including their first home win of the season Tuesday against Chicago. They have a 3-1 mark on the road, outscoring opponents, 9-2.

They've also had the better of Los Angeles of late, winning all three meetings between the two teams a year ago.

"It's a great venue, great crowd and a great pitch. Combine those three things, I think it's exciting," Wolyniec said. "It's a bit more of a professional atmosphere, a better environment for soccer. I'm definitely excited to be able to play on that field and I'm going to try and make the most of it."

Added Lisi: "The guys are happy right now, the atmosphere in the locker room has been good and training sessions have been great these past few days. We've had success here in L.A., we enjoy coming here, we enjoy the stadium, the field, the atmosphere. We're ready."

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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