E. RUTHERFORD, N.J.
6 pm ET (MSG; Azteca)
The MetroStars are in the middle of a three-game stretch from which coach Bob Bradley has said his club absolutely needs to take nine points. They got it started off in the right direction with a comeback victory last weekend, and now play host to the league's bottom team in the overall table in Chivas USA, which has almost reached the point where they must win out to have any hope of claiming a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Coincidentally, the match pairs teams whose last loss for both was a 3-0 reversal by D.C. United in Washington.
REFEREE: Michael Kennedy. SAR (bench): Steven Taylor; JAR (opposite): Chip Reed; 4th: Lee Suckle
MLS Career: 66 games; FC/gm: 33.0; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 9; pens: 29
Games involving MetroStars: P15 W7 L6 T2; FC/gm: 32.3; Y/gm: 4.6; R: 3; pens: 8
Games involving Chivas USA: P1 W0 L0 T1; FC/gm: 37.0; Y/gm: 6.0; R: 0; pens: 0
INJURY REPORT: METROSTARS - OUT: FW Ante Razov (R sports hernia surgery); GK Mike Ueltschey (L sports hernia); DF Ryan Suarez (R MCL sprain); DOUBTFUL: DF Carlos Mendes (hamstring strain); DF Tim Ward (L hamstring strain); DF:Tim Regan (R foot metacarpal fracture); QUESTIONABLE: DF Jeff Agoos (L wrist contusion); MF Mark Lisi (L quadriceps contusion) ... CHIVAS USA - OUT: MF Francisco Gomez (L quadriceps strain); FW Matt Taylor (L adductor strain); DF Victor Arbelaez (L adductor strain); FW: Thiago Martins (L ankle sprain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Ezra Hendrickson (R quad strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: MET: Chris Leitch (through 8/21)
WARNINGS: MET: Jeff Parke (8 CP in 2 gms) ... CHV: Hector Cuadros (16 CP); Antonio Martinez (17 CP); Isaac Romo (16 CP)
ALL-TIME: first meeting
The two teams meet for the first time ever with the inaugural season for Chivas USA two-thirds complete, the only game at the MetroStars home at the Meadowlands. They will play each other in the season finale at The Home Depot Center on Oct. 16.
Coaches record: Bob Bradley v CHV: first game ... Hans Westerhof vs. MET: first game
The MetroStars extended their home unbeaten streak to eight matches, coming back to capture a 2-1 victory against the Columbus Crew in a vitally important match last Sunday at Giants Stadium. The MetroStars remain in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 32 points from 23 matches, still six points out of a playoff spot as the four teams ahead of them all won, now 11 points ahead of the last-place Crew.
The MetroStars were able to keep pace with the rest of the East in a massive six-point match that also saw them extend their home unbeaten run in a game delayed by thunderstorms.
John Wolyniec came back to haunt his former club with a 33rd-minute goal that gave the Crew the lead. A corner was cleared back to the flank, but only as far as Simon Elliott, and he pumped a cross back into the mixer that Wolyniec powered in to head home.
But after the break the home side took control of the contest. Sergio Galvan Rey leveled matters two minutes after the restart, a Mike Magee chip finding the Colombian striker in front of goal and he made no mistake pounding home his finish.
Then Youri Djorkaeff nosed the Metros in front midway through the second half, a Galvan Rey shot initially blocked and the former French international corralling the rebound before sending a shot goalward that Crew defender Chris Wingert just couldn't clear off the line (64).
MetroStars coach Bob Bradley made one change to the team that lost 3-0 to D.C. United the Wednesday before at RFK Stadium. With Amado Guevara suspended after being sent off in that game, Mike Magee came into the team.
Here's Bradley's team (4-1-3-2): Tony Meola - Chris Leitch, Jeff Parke, Seth Stammler, Jeff Agoos (Tim Ward 57) - Michael Bradley - Mike Magee, Eddie Gaven (Danilo da Silva 88), Sergio Galvan Rey - Youri Djorkaeff, Ante Razov (Eric Quill 85)
"When we needed somebody to really step up and take more responsibility and make more plays and work harder and compete at a high level and get on guys and everything else, [Djorkaeff] was doing it the whole half," Bradley said. "He wants to win. He knows all these games are very very important, and I think it showed."
After being thoroughly outplayed in the opening 20 minutes and falling behind 1-0 on John Wolyniec's first goal as a member of the Columbus Crew, the Metros got an unlikely reprieve when the game was delayed 92 minutes because of lightning.
"Thank God for the rain delay today because I don't know what the heck was going on in the first 20 minutes," Tony Meola said. "But we came out with a heckuva lot more intensity and we pumped the ball into their end of the field and battled."
The MetroStars have lost just once in eight games (winning five) when Djorkaeff has a goal or an assist. "After the delay, we went back onto the field with a different mentality," said Djorkaeff. "We are starting to raise the bar and now there is a future for us."
As well, it was Djorkaeff's third goal of the year against the Crew - of his six total on the season. "It's my lucky team," Djorkaeff said with a smile. "Hopefully we play every game against Columbus."
The Columbus game was the first of three consecutive must-win home games for the Metros, which will be without Razov for the Chivas USA match. He, along with third-string goalkeeper Mike Ueltschey, had sports hernia surgery in Germany on Monday and are expected to be out for up to the next month. Chris Leitch will also be out, suspended for caution point accumulation.
"Bob said in the beginning of the week we have three games in a row," said Meola. "The only way to keep this thing going is to get nine points."
But Bradley will have some real decisions to make in the back. Along with Leitch's suspension, Jeff Agoos was forced off after just 57 minutes last Sunday with another calf injury Carlos Mendes and Ryan Suarez are still out. While Tim Ward came in for Agoos, he and Tim Regan were listed as doubtful in the club's injury report - meaning the Metros head into the Chivas match with just two healthy defenders in Jeff Parke and Seth Stammler.
Chivas USA lost for the third consecutive match and saw their goalless run pass the four-hour mark, falling to D.C. United 3-0 at RFK Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Chivas USA still have just 12 points from 23 matches, now 13 points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and seven points behind fellow expansion club Real Salt Lake with just nine games remaining on their inaugural season.
D.C. United carved open the Chivas USA defense for a comprehensive 3-0 victory, the fourth consecutive victory for the defending MLS Cup champion, third in a row where they scored three goals and second in a row by a 3-0 scoreline.
United struck for two goals in a three-minute span just before the halftime break to take command of the match. In the 41st minute, central defender Bobby Boswell came racing forward out of the back, played a nifty one-two with Christian Gomez before sliding the ball into the goalmouth where Santino Quaranta raced in to tap home.
Then Jamil Walker continued his run of form, racing in behind the Chivas defense to latch onto a Dema Kovalenko pass from the left flank, clinically finishing past Chivas 'keeper Brad Guzan.
Kovalenko made it 3-0 in the 64th minute, latching onto a long ball played from deep in the United end that was flicked on over the static Chivas defense by Walker, the combative D.C. midfielder racing into the penalty area before slotting a low angled shot off the inside of Guzan's right-hand post.
Chivas USA coach Hans Westerhof made two changes to the team that lost 1-0 to the Los Angeles Galaxy the previous Wednesday. Ezra Hendrickson missed out on a start for the first time this season as Francisco Mendoza came into the team in a reshuffle, while Hector Cuadros came into the attacking midfield role, for Thiago Martins.
Here's Westerhof's team (3-3-1-3): Brad Guzan - Jesus Ochoa (Mike Munoz 75), Douglas Sequeira, Armando Begines - Orlando Perez, Ramon Ramirez, Francisco Mendoza - Hector Cuadros - Arturo Torres (Rodrigo Lopez 84), Isaac Romo (Milton Blanco 75), Antonio Martinez
"I think in the first 40 minutes we at least played the same level as our opponent. The difference was we made more mistakes than they did," said Westerhof. "You can see that they have been playing together for a long time. They moved better than we did. When you play against D.C. United at this level and you're down 2-0, it's almost impossible to come back."
Young striker Rodrigo Lopez made his MLS debut, coming on in the 84th minute for Arturo Torres. "I felt good. I wish it would have been more (the playing time). I wish we would have won, it would have made it better," he said. " ... It was a tough loss. I thought we did good in the first half. In the second half the team was tired, we we're down 2-0 and the third goal came and everyone just put their heads down."
After United took the lead, Chivas somewhat fell victim to the heat as they were forced to chase the game.
"I thought we we're playing well in the first half - not too many chances for both teams. Maybe we had some more dangerous chances in the first half and with two minutes left they scored two goals toward the end of the first half and now is an uphill battle, so it was really hard," said Antonio Martinez. "In the second half, they were more relaxed. We had to take it to them. They were just knocking the ball, making us run."
Hailed by the club as "the arrival of the Mexican artillery," Francisco Palencia and Juan Pablo Garcia are now eligible and expected to start in Chivas USA's match Sunday at the MetroStars. The two Mexican league veterans, along with Hector "Pirata" Castro and Sergio Garcia "Matute," are joining the squad as reinforcements for the rest of the 2005 campaign and beyond. They all became eligible to play in MLS when the international transfer window opened Monday.
"The team will soon improve a great deal," said Antonio Cue, Chivas USA president and co-owner. "We made mistakes and we were wrong on some things, but we are committed to this long-term project."
Said Palencia: "I hope to help get the team out of the bottom of the table and help get us victories as soon as possible. I'm fine; I'm fit, healthy and mentally prepared." Added Garcia: "I want to develop and mature personally, but my main goal is to play good soccer and to start winning."
Palencia, 32, has been one of Mexico's best players over the past decade. A member of Mexico's 1998 and 2002 World Cup teams, he is best known for helping Cruz Azul reach the final of the Copa Libertadores in 2001, and his offensive skills, from either the forward or attacking midfielder position, are expected to provide a boost.
Garcia is a budding superstar. The 23-year-old represented Mexico in the 2004 Olympics and played for Mexico in last month's Gold Cup. Castro will help shore the defense, as 29-year-old will give Chivas USA what it had hoped for from Alfonso Loera, who was released. Castro can play both defender and defensive midfielder and has trained often in the latter under Chivas coach Hans Westerhof. Meanwhile, Garcia "Matute" was Chivas of Guadalajara's third-string keeper a year ago and will give Westerhof another option in goal.