Saturday's match is the last for Eddie Pope before joining the U.S. National Team.
Rich Schultz/

Home unbeaten streak on the line in Metros crucial match

Can the Metros remain undefeated on home turf?

The MetroStars are undefeated in their first four games played on home turf in 2004, as the "Red and Black" have two victories and two ties at Giants Stadium going into this Saturday's match against the Dallas Burn (Giants Stadium, 7:30 p.m. ET). Judging the play of the Metros this year, this match is a must-see for all fans.

The MetroStars are continuing to build on the strides that they have already taken in 2004. They are currently riding a four-game unbeaten streak, and it seems that in each game this year, different players step up to earn points for the team. Last Sunday, John Wolyniec scored a huge goal that not only secured a "Red and Black" victory, but earned Sierra Mist Goal of the Week honors. Wolyniec is just one out of the many talented forwards who have a knack for scoring clutch goals, and his goal couldn't have been bigger, as it catapulted the Metros back into a first-place tie with the Chicago Fire in the Eastern Conference.

Sunday's victory also marked Metros' 'keeper Jonny Walker's first clean sheet of the year. Walker was very sharp and with a little help from defenders Chris Leitch, Jeff Parke, Eddie Pope and Craig Ziadie, collectively, they thwarted Kansas City's offensive efforts. This weekend, look for them to come out strong in order to shut down Dallas.

The Metros' midfield also has been very strong. Eddie Gaven and Mark Lisi currently sit in a six-way tie for MLS assist leader with four assists (Chris Albright, Los Angeles Galaxy; Landon Donovan, San Jose Earthquakes; Andreas Herzog, Los Angeles Galaxy; and Andy Williams, Chicago Fire). Gaven also sits atop the game-winning assist category with two assists in a three-way tie (Andy Williams, Chicago Fire and Josh Wolff, Kansas City Wizards). Additionally, Amado Guevara has three goals and two assists this season while Joselito Vaca has also been strong, scoring one goal for the "Red and Black."

Led by forward Eddie Johnson and goalkeeper Scott Garlick, the Burn will hope to be the first squad to defeat the Metros in Giants Stadium this season. However, with contributions coming from multiple players on the 2004 MetroStars squad it will be difficult.

Difficult road ahead makes Saturday a crucial match for the MetroStars

One might think that Saturday's match against the Burn is just another regular season game. But, a closer look at the MetroStars' situation shows that the "Red and Black" are about to head into their most difficult stretch of the season.

Blessed with a group of international stars, the MetroStars are one of the strongest sides in MLS this season. But, the strength of the MetroStars is about to become a weakness as this Saturday marks the last time the Metros will play as a full unit for the next several weeks. Seven - and maybe eight - of the Metros will go into service with their national teams in June and July as World Cup Qualifiers are on the calendar.

Eddie Pope, Jonny Walker, Cornell Glen, Fabian Taylor, Craig Ziadie, Amado Guevara, Tenywa Bonseu and possibly Joselito Vaca will turn their attention to the international circuit and become unavailable for a series of club matches. All of these players have been critical to the MetroStars success through nine matches in 2004. Glen, Taylor and Guevara account for 10 of the MetroStars 15 goals.

Saturday's match against the Burn represents an opportunity for the MetroStars to claim sole possession of first-place in the Eastern Conference. The Metros (13 points) have shared that spot with the Fire (13 points) for the last few weeks. The Fire square off Saturday against Freddy Adu and D.C. United (Soldier Field, 4:00 p.m. ET).

After this weekend, the Metros head west to take on the Earthquakes and then play a home-and-home series with the Galaxy. Even with a full side would, this would be considered a grueling three-game schedule.

The Burn come into Giants Stadium on a six-game winless streak and a four-game losing streak, going 0-4-2 since their 2-0 start. The Burn have fallen into the basement of the Western Conference and will be desperate to get back on track. The Metros went 2-0-1 against the Burn in 2003. The scoreless tie served as a heartbreaking match for Metros at Giants Stadium as they failed to capitalize on three penalty kicks.

The MetroStars will look to build off a successful, 1-0, win over Kansas City last weekend. John Wolyniec, the Staten Island native, will be the player to watch, as he is sure to get the start at forward after last week's game-winning goal. The MetroStars are 3-0 in the matches Wolyniec has started. Wolyniec can look for service from Eddie Gaven and Mark Lisi, who are MLS co-leaders for assists.

Wolyniec will look to crack the Burn defense, which features former Metro and fan favorite, Steve Jolley. Jolley will make his first return to the Meadowlands since his off-season trade to Dallas. Jolley anchored the MetroStars defense for four seasons and was a member of the 2000 Eastern Division Championship team.

Fans are encouraged to come out to Giants Stadium early. The first 5,000 fans will receive a free seat cushion, courtesy of the US Army. Metro SoccerFest will open at 4:30 p.m. inside the bubble, complete with interactive games and competitions for the whole soccer family.

Come out and see if the "Red and Black" can keep their unbeaten home streak going this Saturday in a crucial match against Dallas at 7:30 p.m. at Giants Stadium. For ticket information, click here or call 1-888-METROTIXX.