There's one thing Bob Bradley knows about Fourth of July games in Major League Soccer, they always seem to come with fireworks.
And he is hoping it is his MetroStars who provide the on-field fireworks Monday at Real Salt Lake.
"Fourth of July games in this league are always special, big crowds, people come out to maybe see their team but also see fireworks. It's usually a reason for that home team on that day to be at their best," Bradley said. "We just need to be ready to compete at a high level, to play our game, enjoy the crowd and show them how we play."
But it won't be easy, especially offensively. Already missing rookie forward Abbe Ibrahim, who is rehabbing from knee surgery, the Metros will be without Amado Guevara, who is suspended Monday for an accumulation of caution points.
The obvious move, then, would be to bring Youri Djorkaeff back in Guevara's spot. But the former French World Cup star is listed as questionable with a left calf strain. While Sergio Galvan Rey's play this year has been refreshing -- he scored a goal and set up another in a 4-2 loss at New England last Saturday -- the Metros are frighteningly thin up top this week.
Ante Razov should start up top with Galvan Rey, but who will be the playmaker Monday is a question mark. Mark Lisi, who met with Bradley behind closed doors for about an hour Friday after training, may be asked to push forward more. Mike Magee will need to be better than he has been the past few weeks and Eddie Gaven could also start in the midfield.
Also questionable is defender Jeff Agoos, who has struggled the past two weeks, with a right hamstring strain. Although if Agoos can't go, Carlos Mendes can fill the void.
One thing is certain, Zach Wells will be in goal and Tony Meola, who is about "85-90 percent" healthy, will be his backup. Wells is looking to rebound after being caught off his line twice last Saturday -- first by Jose Cancela 19 seconds into the game and again by Pat Noonan in second-half stoppage time.
"The thing you don't want to do is overcompensate and go too far in the other direction," said Wells, who is searching for a more consistent effort.
Dylan Butler is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.