The MetroStars strategy against the New England Revolution on Saturday night at Giants Stadium is simple: A good defense starts with a good offense.
If it sounds reversed, it is. The Metros have no desire to throw numbers behind the ball, to bunker in and weather the multi-layered storm that is the league-leading Revs.
Instead, in what is another must-win game, the MetroStars' defensive plan is to attack, to try and put the Revs under the same kind of pressure New England has put on the rest of the league this year.
"I think you have to make it a two-way game. That puts them under pressure and maybe highlights the areas where they're not as strong," Metros coach Bob Bradley said. "Give them credit, they've had a good season. They're a pretty balanced team, they work hard and they have a bunch of players who have been together, they know each other and they seem to enjoying playing together."
Ask the MetroStars to name the Revolution's best player and you're likely to get a rambling response. That's because there is no one great player, no one dangerous attacking player.
There's Taylor Twellman, Pat Noonan, Clint Dempsey and Steve Ralston. And sitting back is Shalrie Joseph, who can make an argument for MLS MVP this season.
So the Metros will fight fire with fire. They'll go at the Revs, which is exactly what Eddie Gaven likes to hear.
"Three guys in the back means that I need to play a little more defense but once I get (the ball) I should have a little space out there on the flank to run with it," Gaven said of Steve Nicol's 3-5-2 formation. "Hopefully, just like I did last game, I can get balls to my feet, balls into space where I'm able to do the things that I like to do, to run at guys and get balls in the box and get shots off."
Gaven had a resurgence in a 1-0 win at Kansas City, scoring the lone Metros goal on a deflected shot from just outside the box. It was his sixth goal of the year and first since scoring the game-winner in a 2-1 victory against Los Angeles July 9.
"It's not like all of a sudden in those games everything just left," Gaven said. "It was still there, it just wasn't as sharp on my part, maybe it wasn't for as long in the game, maybe I wasn't tuned in for long stretches. The last game I was lucky enough to be able to do it."
And the win at Kansas City was the first 1-0 victory for the Metros this season, something the team is going to need more of down the stretch. And especially against a Revolution team that scored late in both meeting with the Metros this year - a 2-2 tie at Giants Stadium on May 21 and a 4-2 Revs win at Gillette Stadium on June 25.
"If it was up to me, I'd win every single game 1-0," Chris Leitch said. "I think that says a lot about your team, that you can get your goal and protect your goal."
The Metros, which trail fourth place Chicago by five points with six games left, will be without defenders Tim Regan, who is serving a one-game ban after getting sent off vs. Kansas City, and Danilo da Silva, who is recovering from knee surgery.
But they will get a boost as recently signed Argentine midfielder Daniel Garipe is available, the MetroStars learned late Friday afternoon. After officially signing with the club Wednesday, Garipe obtained his visa Friday and will be on the active roster.
Garipe had been training with the Metros for three weeks but may finally get on the field Saturday.
"The wait hasn't done anything to my confidence. On the contrary, it has made me hungrier to get on the field and prove to the coaches that I deserve to play," Garipe said through a translator after Friday's training session. "When that time comes, I will be happy with whatever the coaches decide because I'm here to fight for this jersey, which is what I have done everywhere I have been."
dylan Butler is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.