The MetroStars picked up three big points in their effort to gain a playoff spot with a 1-0 victory Saturday against the Kansas City Wizards at Arrowhead Stadium, their first victory away from Giants Stadium since May 28.
An Eddie Gaven shot that took a deflection on its way to goal just before the end of the first half gave the MetroStars the only goal they needed, and Tony Meola -- making his first start in the city where he plied his trade for six seasons -- made it stand up, even after the MetroStars were reduced to 10 men for the final 25 minutes.
As has been their habit in recent home games, the Wizards pressed forward in search of an early goal. But a shot by Wizards midfielder Chris Klein was blocked and Jose Burciaga's effort was off target.
On the goal kick after Burciaga's shot, MetroStars forward Youri Djorkaeff was in the clear behind the Wizards defense with a flicked on ball, but was ruled offside.
Gaven was influential from the start. In the eighth minute, he ran at two Wizards defenders and managed to play the ball forward, but Wizards goalkeeper Bo Oshoniyi covered it before Djorkaeff could arrive.
Then in the 16th minute, MetroStars midfielder Amado Guevara played a ball through a gap in the middle of the Wizards defense as Gaven streaked through, but Oshoniyi jumped on that ball before Gaven caught up to it.
Meola became more personally involved stopping the Wizards attack the rest of the half. In the 18th minute, Meola saved Klein's shot from about 15 yards after a good attacking combination by Burciaga and rookie Scott Sealy, who laid the ball back for Klein.
The Wizards then appeared to have a sure goal in the 26th minute when Klein played a ball through the middle of the field to Sealy, who won the contest for possession with MetroStars defender Jeff Agoos. Sealy dribbled around Meola, but Agoos did not give up, continuing back into the goalmouth and clearing Sealy's shot off the line.
Meola saved Burciaga's free kick in the 32nd minute after Wizards midfielder Kerry Zavagnin drew a foul inside the MetroStars restraining arc.
But toward the end of the first half, the MetroStars were starting to find some good offensive chances. Djorkaeff played a ball on the ground through the Wizards defense, but Razov's shot went directly into Oshoniyi's chest.
The MetroStars capped the half by taking the lead in the 44th minute. Guevara's free kick into the penalty area was cleared out, but laid back to Gaven, who was wide open about 35 yards from goal. Gaven's hard right-footed shot deflected off Wizards midfielder Sasha Victorine and changed direction, giving Oshoniyi no chance to save it.
Both teams tested their opponent's goalkeeper in the early exchanges of the second half.
Davy Arnaud made Meola dive to block, and then save, his shot from about 25 yards in the 48th minute. Razov shot from about 25 yards on a free kick in the 54th minute, but shot over the bar. In the 57th minute, Sealy turned skillfully on Agoos at the top of the penalty area, but missed wide left with his shot. Guevara tried to curl a shot past Oshoniyi in the 60th minute, but Oshoniyi made a diving save.
The MetroStars lost defender Tim Regan in the 65th minute when he picked up his second yellow card for fouling Arnaud from behind. Regan had picked his first yellow card just two minutes earlier.
With the advantage, the Wizards were able to possess the ball more. MetroStars defender Carlos Mendes made a diving block of Arnaud's cross in the 72nd minute, stopping a dangerous chance. Arnaud missed by less than one foot outside of the right post on a shot in the 75th minute and substitute Preki missed in the same area in the 80th minute.
While the MetroStars did not press forward with the same vigor as they did before Regan was sent off, Gaven did have a shot from just outside the penalty area in the 83rd minute. The shot beat Oshoniyi but was just outside the right post.
In an effort to gain the tying goal, the Wizards brought in Jermaine Hue, a Jamaican international midfielder, in the 84th minute. Hue immediately showed some offensive flair, but the ball did not bounce right for the Wizards. Wolff twice sent shots goalward over the final seconds, but Meola stood tall to punch both away and the MetroStars escaped with three valuable points.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Eddie Gaven (MetroStars)
Robert Whitman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.