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MetroStars pre-game report
METROSTARS vs COLORADO RAPIDS
E. RUTHERFORD, N.J.
7:00 pm ET (HDNet; FSN-NY)
Despite losing away to the conference's last-place team after two impressive victories against the best team in the league, the MetroStars still return home after two cross-country trips and a number of games with myriad absences holding the top spot in the Eastern Conference. For the second time in four days they'll face a last-place club, entertaining the Colorado Rapids - who play their second consecutive road match against an Eastern Conference coming off their first win in a month and their first road victory of the season.
REFEREE: Ali Saheli. SAR (bench): Jose Andrade; JAR (opposite): Jorge de la Bandera; 4th: Steve Karaduzovic
MLS Career: 56 games; FC/gm: 32.7; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 9; pens: 14
Games involving MetroStars: P7 W2 L4 T1; FC/gm: 35.4; Y/gm: 5.0; R: 3; pens: 1
Games involving Rapids: P13 W8 L5 T0; FC/gm: 29.8; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 1; pens: 2
INJURY REPORT: METROSTARS - OUT: MD Michael Bradley (R foot stress fracture); MD Gilberto Flores (L ankle sprain); MD Mark Lisi (R ankle sprain); QUESTIONABLE: MD Joselito Vaca (back strain) ... COLORADO RAPIDS - OUT: FW Rey Angel Martinez (broken toe); DF Jeff Stewart (R knee); FW Zizi Roberts (R knee swelling); QUESTIONABLE: MD Mark Chung (L quadriceps strain); DF Gary Sullivan (groin strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: COL: John Spencer (through June 30)
YELLOW PERIL: MET: Ricardo Clark (10 CP in 2 gms) ... COL: Nat Borchers (20 CP); Pablo Mastroeni (20 CP)
ALL-TIME (19 meetings): MetroStars 10 wins (0 shootout), 31 goals ... Rapids 8 wins (0 shootout), 22 goals ... 1 draw
AT GIANTS STADIUM (9 meetings): MetroStars 6 wins, 20 goals ... Rapids 3 wins, 11 goals ... 0 draws
This is the first of two meetings this season between the clubs. They'll also meet in Denver on Aug. 21.
A year ago, the MetroStars won two of the three meetings, the Rapids winning the other. The MetroStars won twice in three weeks in each stadium, claiming a 2-1 win at Giants Stadium on May 3 (Mathis 51, Ziadie 62 - Roberts 41), then repeating the feat with a 2-0 win at Invesco Field on May 17 (Mathis 51, Magee 60).
The Rapids then claimed a 1-0 victory in the Mile High City on July 26 (Chung 25).
The road teams have claimed three of the last meetings between the clubs, over the last two seasons. The MetroStars have lost just once in their last five visits to Denver (over the past four seasons) - in their final meeting last season.
The Rapids have won just two of the last nine meetings in the series (since the 2000 campaign), with one of those matches a draw.
Joselito Vaca leads current MetroStars with 2 goals, 3 assists against Colorado - but has yet to play against the Rapids while with Metro. He is one of just three current Metros with goals against Colorado - Craig Ziadie (1 goal, 1 assist) and Mike Magee (1 goal) the others.
Mark Chung leads current Rapids with 2 goals, 2 assists against his former club, with 1 goal, 2 assists while in Colorado. Chris Henderson has 1 goal, 9 assists for his career v MetroStars, but just 2 assists have come while with the Rapids. Just two other current Rapids - John Spencer and Zizi Roberts - have goals against the Metros (1 goal each).
Coaches record: Bob Bradley v COL: P19 W10 L7 T2 ... Tim Hankinson v MET: P17 W7 L9 T1
The MetroStars saw their modest two-game winning streak come to a crashing halt, but still remained in first place in the Eastern Conference despite a 2-1 loss to the New England Revolution on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium. The MetroStars have 19 points from 13 matches, still two ahead of the Chicago Fire and D.C. United in the East.
After a 3-0 victory midweek against the Los Angeles Galaxy, it all turned upside down for the Metros, as they lost 2-1 to the bottom-dwelling Revolution. Goalkeeper Adin Brown made a trio of top-drawer saves to preserve the scoreless draw in the first half, then after he was injured, Matt Reis came on in the second and also kept the visitors at bay.
The Revolution then struck twice in three minutes on lightning counter attacks, first Felix Brillant scoring his first MLS goal after racing through the Metro rearguard and surprising 'keeper Jonny Walker with an instinctive shot in the area (64), then Clint Dempsey claiming a pass from Pat Noonan and rounding a defender and Walker in the area before slotting home.
The MetroStars pulled a goal back in stoppage time when Guevara converted from the penalty spot after Reis upended Gaven deep in the area.
"We didn't finish chances," MetroStars coach Bob Bradley said. "With the number of opportunities we had going forward, the game was there for us to score first. They were able to take a loose ball play and turn it in to a goal and that changed the game."
Bradley made one change to the team that defeated the Galaxy at The Home Depot Center four days earlier. Chris Leitch was ruled out with a groin strain, replaced by Craig Ziadie.
Here's Bradley's team (4-4-2): Jonny Walker - Craig Ziadie, Jeff Parke, Eddie Pope, Tim Regan (Fabian Taylor 69) - Amado Guevara, Ricardo Clark, Gilberto Flores (Pablo Brenes 24), Eddie Gaven - Mike Magee, John Wolyniec (Sergio Galvan Rey 56).
Bradley was then forced into a quick change when Gilberto Flores was hacked down by Clint Dempsey as he tried to go by on the right flank, and had to be stretchered from the field. Ironically, before the game, Gilberto said: "It's an incredible difference. It's a lot faster here. In Brazil, it's much slower. Here it's more physical."
While the MetroStars had all of their internationals back for the second consecutive match, it was another game where Bradley chose to go with the players who began the season in reserve roles and were thrust into action with the vast number of absences.
"Filling in is not even a good word, quite honestly," Bradley said. "It's about having competition for spots, and the guys that have played of late have played well. The competition's getting better; we're a deeper team, and in the long run that's what we need."
Bradley is concerned with facing a team that he expects to again defend in depth, especially playing away from home. The Rapids have scored just nine goals, and allowed just 10, in 12 games. By contrast, the MetroStars have scored and allowed 22 goals in 13 games.
"Whenever you're playing in this league against a team that is undermanned, you have to expect that team is going to be organized, defend and try to make a very hard game out of it," Bradley said yesterday after practice. "We've seen a number of these kind of games like that this year against New England, Dallas and Kansas City. It's still a challenge on our end."
Amado Guevara was named Honda MLS Player of the Week in balloting by the Professional Soccer Reporters Association.
The Colorado Rapids got a much-needed three points, winning for the first time in five matches in a 2-1 victory away to the Columbus Crew on Saturday night. Though still in last place in the Western Conference, the Rapids pulled themselves within a point of fourth-place Dallas Burn with 15 points from 12 matches, nine adrift of the conference-leading Los Angeles Galaxy.
Jean-Philippe Peguero tapped home a cross in the heart of the box to put the Rapids ahead on 37 minutes, then just before halftime, Eric Denton turned a low centering pass into his own goal to double the Colorado advantage.
Edson Buddle drove home a shot from the heart of the area to pull a goal back for the Crew in the 89th minute, then the visitors escaped with the full three points when Chris Henderson cleared a header off the line in the dying moments of the match.
"It was one of those balls that you just follow with your eyes because you know you have already been beaten, but just as you are losing all hope, it gets cleared from the line. Henderson had a chance to lift the team to a 3-0 lead five minutes before, but that save made up for everything tonight," said goalkeeper Joe Cannon.
It was just the third victory of the season for the Rapids, and the first in more than a month, the last coming in a 2-1 victory at home against D.C. United on May 22. It was also the Rapids first road victory of the season, the last team in the league to claim the full three points on the road this season.
"We needed this win badly. We created some good chances and so did they (Columbus). The difference was putting the ball away, and we did," Rapids head coach Tim Hankinson said.
With three starters suspended and two more out through injury, Hankinson had just 13 available field players for the trip. He made four changes to the team that drew 1-1 with the Dallas Burn the previous weekend, as Darryl Powell, Kyle Beckerman and John Spencer were all suspended and Rey Angel Martinez was out through injury. Pablo Mastroeni and Jean-Philippe Peguero returned from international duty, while Joey DiGiamarino made his first start since returning to the Rapids, and Jordan Cila made his first professional start.
Here's Hankinson's team (4-4-2): Joe Cannon - Antonio de la Torre, Nat Borchers, Pablo Mastroeni, Ritchie Kotschau - Chris Henderson, Matt Crawford, Seth Trembly, Joey DiGiamarino (Adrian Cann 80) - Jean Philippe Peguero, Jordan Cila (Gary Sullivan 89)