E. RUTHERFORD, N.J.
7:30 pm ET (MSG; WB-56)
The MetroStars start the second of back-to-back home-and-home series needing points against Northeast rival New England Revolution - who only hold the best record in MLS. For the MetroStars, it's their penultimate home game of the campaign - four of their final five games are on the road. Still a point ahead of the San Jose Earthquakes in the race for the Supporters' Shield, the Revolution haven't yet secured their place in the MLS Cup Playoffs - but that's something they would achieve with a victory Saturday night in the Meadowlands.
REFEREE: Mark Geiger. SAR (bench): Nate Clement; JAR (opposite): Bill Dittmar; 4th: Andrew Chapin
MLS Career: 11 games; FC/gm: 31.3; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 1; pens: 7
Games involving MetroStars: first game
Games involving Revolution: P1 W1 L0 T0; FC/gm: 36.0; Y/gm: 5.0; R: 0; pens: 3
INJURY REPORT: METROSTARS - OUT: GK Mike Ueltschey (L sports hernia); MF Danilo da Silva (R lateral meniscus tear) ... NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION - PROBABLE: FW Ryan Latham (L groin pain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: MET: Tim Regan (through Sept. 17)
WARNINGS: MET: Michael Bradley (10 add'l CP); Amado Guevara (8 add'l CP); Jeff Parke (19 CP) ... NE: Shalrie Joseph (10 add'l CP); Marshall Leonard (18 CP)
ALL-TIME (37 meetings): MetroStars 15 wins (2 shootout), 70 goals ... Revolution 17 wins (3 shootout), 68 goals ... 5 draws
AT GIANTS STADIUM (19 meetings): MetroStars 11 wins (0 shootout), 45 goals ... Revolution 6 wins (2 shootout), 30 goals ... 2 draws
The I-95 rivals face off for the third of four scheduled meetings this season, the second of two at Giants Stadium. This is the first match of a home-and-home series over the next two weekends, as they meet on Sept. 24 in Foxborough (though the Revolution have a game in Columbus in between).
The clubs played to a 2-2 draw in their first meeting at the Meadowlands before the Revolution stormed back to take a 4-2 victory in their last meeting, June 25 in Foxborough.
The MetroStars nearly overcame a man disadvantage to end the New England Revolution's unbeaten run, a late goal giving the visitors a 2-2 draw at Giants Stadium on May 21.
The 10-man MetroStars had seemed to have overcome their disadvantage and put an end to the Revolution's undefeated run to start the campaign - until Taylor Twellman again came to the rescue.
Twellman had given the Revolution the lead after just six minutes. Pat Noonan curled in an early cross that Twellman knocked home inside the far post with a sublime first-time strike. But the home side responded just 10 minutes later, a neat bit of juggling from Amado Guevara able to find Tim Ward in the corner, who spun and drove a low cross into the area that Eddie Gaven stabbed home.
MetroStars striker Abbe Ibrahim - making his first MLS start - was sent off for a second bookable offense in the 66th minute. Yet it was the Metros who responded, Mike Magee driving in a low cross from the right corner that John Wolyniec slid to bang home off his knees in the middle of the goal area.
But the Revolution weren't going to let their hot start slip away, and a minute from the end, substitute Khano Smith teased in a cross from the left flank that Twellman lunged forward to power home, heading it off the underside of the crossbar and into the back of the net.
On June 25 at Gillette Stadium, the New England Revolution answered a quick second-half double with a three-goal flurry of their own in a 4-2 win.
Jose Cancela gave the Revolution the lead after just 19 seconds, hitting a looping volley over Zach Wells from all of 35 yards - the second-quickest in MLS history, after Dwayne De Rosario's goal for San Jose against Dallas on Sept. 27, 2003, at 11 seconds.
But midway through the second half the MetroStars took the lead with goals within two minutes. First Youri Djorkaeff converted from the penalty spot after Andy Dorman had bowled over Sergio Galvan Rey from behind (67), then Galvan Rey tapped home with a simple finish after Eddie Gaven was set free on the right to drive a low cross into the goalmouth (69).
Yet it took the Revolution just three minutes to respond, Jay Heaps rising up at the near post to pound home a clear header from a corner kick, then four minutes from the end the Revolution took advantage of a dreadful mistake for the match-winner, Steve Ralston dispossessing Metro defender Jeff Parke in his own area before curling a perfectly placed shot inside the far post.
New England sealed the match in stoppage time (91+), a long ball from Avery John finding Pat Noonan running free just the other side of the halfway line, and after one touch he hit a long floater that caught Wells well off his line.
Here's Nicol's team (3-4-1-2): Matt Reis - Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Joe Franchino - Steve Ralston, Clint Dempsey, Shalrie Joseph, Cassio (James Riley 46) - Jose Cancela (Andy Dorman 46) - Khano Smith (Avery John 68), Pat Noonan
Here's Bradley's team (4-4-2): Zach Wells - Chris Leitch, Jeff Agoos, Jeff Parke, Tim Regan - Michael Bradley, Mark Lisi - Mike Magee (Eddie Gaven 65), Amado Guevara - Youri Djorkaeff (Seth Stammler 88), Sergio Galvan Rey
A year ago, the teams battled to a pair of 1-1 draws - one at each ground - before they finished off their league series with home victories. The first 1-1 result came April 25 at Giants Stadium (Guevara 14 - Dempsey 12), then they hit the same scoreline on May 22 at New England (Noonan 7 - Glen 55).
The Revolution claimed a 2-1 win on June 26 at home (Brillant 64, Dempsey 67 - Guevara 90 pen), before the MetroStars turned the tables with a 3-2 win at home on Sept. 11 (Magee 31 pen, Gaven 45, Glen 68 - Noonan 5, Twellman 14)
The MetroStars victory in the season series finale last year was their first win against New England in nine league encounters (11 including MLS Cup Playoffs), since a 4-3 victory at home on July 20, 2002. The Revolution then peeled off five wins in the next eight meetings in the series, with three draws.
New England has twice gone through the season series without loss to the Metros - in 1999 (winning two of the four matches by shootout) and in 2003 (winning three of the four meetings with one draw).
As well in 2003, the Revolution eased to victory when the teams met in the Eastern Conference semifinals, winning 2-0 at Giants Stadium before sealing advancement with a 1-1 draw at home (winning 3-1 on aggregate). The MetroStars did have a modicum of success, winning a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal 2-1 through a golden-goal winner in Piscataway, N.J.
Coaches record: Bob Bradley v NE: P22 W6 L9 T7 ... Steve Nicol vs. MET: P14 W7 L3 D4
The MetroStars gave their postseason hopes a significant boost, going to Arrowhead Stadium and coming away with a 1-0 victory against the Kansas City Wizards last Saturday. The MetroStars now have 37 points from 26 matches, now five points behind the third-place tie between the Wizards and Chicago Fire and seven points ahead of last-place Columbus Crew.
The MetroStars kept pace in the Eastern Conference and stayed in the postseason hunt with the narrowest of victories against the Wizards.
The game's lone goal came a minute before the halftime interval, a free kick falling to Tim Ward and he laid it back to Eddie Gaven, who hit a low drive back toward goal. The shot took a deflection off Wizards midfielder Sasha Victorine on its way in, giving Bo Oshoniyi no chance.
The MetroStars played the final 25 minutes down a man after Tim Regan received two yellow cards in the space of four minutes, but Tony Meola stood tall to claim the shutout in his return to the city where he had played the last six seasons.
MetroStars head coach Bob Bradley made one change to the team that played to a 2-2 draw with the Wizards in the front end of their home-and-home series at the Meadowlands the previous Saturday. Ante Razov made his first start in three matches, coming in for Abbe Ibrahim in attack.
Here's Bradley's team (4-4-2): Tony Meola - Tim Regan, Jeff Agoos, Carlos Mendes, Tim Ward - Michael Bradley - Mike Magee, Amado Guevara, Eddie Gaven (Mark Lisi 83) - Youri Djorkaeff (Chris Leitch 70), Ante Razov (Abbe Ibrahim 89).
"This was a real important win for us, and the most important part is to win 1-0. It's something that we haven't been able to do this year, get the lead and hold it and finish a team off," Bradley said. "It is really important as we head down the stretch because so many of the games this time of year are tight, and that ability becomes important."
Meola's return to Kansas City was a triumphant one, recording the 56th clean sheet of his MLS career. While he might have had some feelings lingering toward the Wizards, he had none toward the city of Kansas City - even taking off his goalkeeping jersey to reveal a T-shirt that read "THANK YOU KC" after the match.
"I had a good time while I was here," Meola said. "I love it here and my family is here. I certainly have no hard feelings about anybody in Kansas City. The city is great and it's fun to come back."
The Wizards were able to dictate the pace of the game for the final 25 minutes, after Regan was sent off. But the MetroStars dodged all bullets fired and misfired at their goal. "You need to stay disciplined," Bradley said. "You can't panic and you still need to keep the ball a little bit. I think we did a good job with those things."
The MetroStars had a defined strategy for defending the lead in the final 25 minutes one man down.
"The strategy is to frustrate the other team by trying to make them play in front of you, by not giving them holes and by being as compact as possible," defender Jeff Agoos said. "You have to move the ball even quicker than when you have 11 men because they are going to try and pressure you. There are opportunities to get at them but they did a good job of closing us down. But I think we did an equally good job of holding on to the ball when we did have possession."
The MetroStars are still five points behind third-place Kansas City and fourth-place Chicago for the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
"We're at a point where we need three-point games, not draws," Bradley said. "Last week (a draw against Kansas City) was nice to come from behind and get that one point but we clearly have emphasized that we've got to be shooting for three every time out. There are 18 points on the table. It's hard to know for sure how many it's going to take but we certainly realize that we're going for three points every time out."
On Wednesday, the Metros finally completed the long-awaited acquisition of Argentinian defender Sergio Garipe. A 24-year-old defensive minded midfielder, he began his professional soccer career in 1998 when he signed with Huracan, from Argentina's Primera Division. From 1998 to 2003, he appeared in 105 games and netted a total of five goals for Huracan. He moved to second division Lanus in 2003/04, then to Argentinos Juniors before heading to Spain in '04/05 where he played for both Pontevedra (16 games) and Pontevedra (Copa Rey) (1 game) both of the Spanish Second Division. For the remainder of the 2005 season, he returned to Argentina where he played for second division Godoy Cruz.
"We feel 'The Ripper' can provide some bite and stability in our midfield," said MetroStars President and General Manager Alexi Lalas. "He's a no-nonsense player who's shown he has no problem getting down and dirty for the cause."
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
The New England Revolution won for the third consecutive match and the fifth time in six contests in emphatic fashion, a 3-1 victory against the Columbus Crew on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium. The Revolution now have 51 points from 26 matches, now seven points ahead of second-place D.C. United and still holders of the best overall record in the league. A victory against the MetroStars will secure a place for the Revs in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
The Revolution showed what a force they can be when they have their full squad available, rolling to a comprehensive 3-1 victory against the Columbus Crew, leaving the playoff hopes for the visitors in dire peril.
Twellman scored his 12th, 13th and 14th goals of the campaign - all from crosses - as he moved two ahead of United's Jaime Moreno in the race for the MLS Golden Boot.
Twellman put the Revs ahead after six minutes with a wonderful goal. A quick turnover found Steve Ralston on the right flank, and his pinpoint cross found Twellman at the far post where he sent a picture-perfect diving header past Jonny Walker.
The St. Louis native doubled the Revolution lead in the 39th minute, Ralston again sending in a cross that took the slightest of touches from Clint Dempsey. Twellman fought his way past Chad Marshall and toe-poked the ball home past a surprised Walker from close range.
Twellman then completed his second hat trick of the campaign just after the hour, Jay Heaps flighting a cross from the right that the 25-year-old headed home over Crew defender Robin Fraser (63). Frankie Hejduk pulled a goal back for Columbus four minutes from the end, heading home a Simon Elliott free kick, but it was far too late.
Revolution boss Steve Nicol made two changes to the team that defeated Real Salt Lake 1-0 the weekend before after finally again being able to call upon nearly his entire squad. Steve Ralston and Taylor Twellman returned from international duty as Andy Dorman and José Cancela returned to the substitutes bench.
Here's Nicol's team (3-5-2): Matt Reis - Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Joe Franchino - Steve Ralston (Ricardo Phillips 84), Clint Dempsey (Andy Dorman 72), Daniel Hernandez, Shalrie Joseph, Marshall Leonard - Taylor Twellman, Pat Noonan
"I thought they were excellent. We really wanted to try and put this team under pressure. We said all week that we know what its like when you need points. So we really didn't want to give them a chance," Nicol said. "It started up top with Taylor (Twellman) and Pat; they did a great job, the other guys just filled in behind. The midfield and the backline squeezed together well."
For Twellman, it was his second hat trick of the season (his first coming against FC Dallas on July 16, a dramatic 3-2 Revolution victory). His 14 goals are his highest total for a league campaign since hitting for 23 in 2002.
"Yeah, I mean it was nice, but the big part of it was the partnership I have with Pat (Noonan). It shows that every game we play together, we continue to get better and it's a pleasure playing with that kid," Twellman said.
Noonan and Twellman have been partnered in attack just twice in league matches since July, and the Crew match was the first time they had been in the lineup along with Clint Dempsey and Steve Ralston since a May 21 game against the MetroStars. The quartet has played together only seven times because of national team commitments, illness, and injuries; the Revs are undefeated (five wins, two draws) in those matches.
''You can see what happens when we are all out there together,'' Noonan said. ''This is one of the most talented, if not the most exciting attacking team, in the league. Columbus is a good team but we set the tempo. When it was 2-0, they were not going to give up, but we were able to match their energy level, move the ball, keep possession, get it wide, then get service to the forwards.''
Nicol said: "Well, I think you know (Noonan) missed six weeks basically. It was his first game back, missing between four and six weeks - I'm not sure which exactly - but he never trained. He only had two days back before his first game. I think tonight he was great, he was a real handful for them."
Having a full squad available will now lead to some difficult selection questions for Nicol.
"It's great. I told the players on Friday morning that it's a real problem for me now. There is going be three or four individuals now and between the end of the season that are not going to be on the field who really, by what they have done this season, deserve to be playing and think they should be playing," he said. "It's going to be a test for some guys who are not going on the field that think they should be. But they're going to be behind the team that's on the field and I think that's a great thing."
On Thursday, the club announced the signing of New Zealand international Tony Lochhead. A product of the University of California-Santa Barbara, Lochhead was a third-round selection (33rd overall) by the Revolution in the 2005 SuperDraft.