Grafer and pants victorious in debut, 2:1
September 5, 2000 (Official Game Summary)
Miami suffered a major setback in its hunt to reach the MLS Cup 2000 playoffs, falling 2-1 to the MetroStars Tuesday night at Giants Stadium. Mike Petke and Adolfo Valencia scored for the Metros (17-11-3, 54 pts), who jumped into the top spot in the overall MLS standings. The Fusion (11-15-5, 38 pts) are not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, but will need a series of defeats from Dallas, Columbus and Colorado to stay alive.
The MetroStars broke through just 10 minutes into the game, after starting the contest with heavy pressure on the Miami goal. Defender Mike Petke found himself wide open at the right post on a free kick.
The All-Star defender volleyed a Mark Chung cross from the left wing directly at Fusion goalkeeper Nick Rimando. The rebound bounced right back to Petke, who blasted his second attempt by Rimando to the far post. It was his career high third goal of the season and staked the Metros to a 1-0 lead.
After missing several quality chances, the MetroStars finally went up 2-0 in the 82nd minute. Chung blistered a shot from outside the box that Rimando barely tipped off the crossbar. The rebound came to Metros midfielder Tab Ramos at the top of the box, who dribbled through several Fusion defenders before being hauled down by Miami's Jay Heaps to the left of the goal.
Valencia stepped up and buried the ensuing PK for his 16th goal of the season, tying him with teammate Clint Mathis and Chicago's Ante Razov for second place in the league. Mathis missed several clear chances in the first half of tonight's game.
Diego Serna pulled one goal back for the Fusion in the 83rd minute. The red-hot Colombian striker finished off a nice passing sequence that saw the ball played through the box off the feet of Roy Lassiter and Martin Machon. Serna, who had all four goals in last Saturday's 4-1 rout of the MetroStars in Miami, finished from close range to make it 2-1.
Miami had several decent chances to equalize late in the contest, the best falling to Machon four minutes into stoppage time. The Guatemalan international blasted a drive past Grafer but wide of the post in the dying moments.
The MetroStars rested midfielders Roy Myers and Petter Villegas, who each made late appearances in the second half. A-League callup Paul Grafer of the Long Island Rough Riders made his MetroStars debut and earned the victory despite some inconsistent moments. Grafer made six saves in the Metros' goal.
Lineup: Grafer, Dooley, Jolley, Matthaus, Petke, Semioli, Chung, Walsh, Ramos, Mathis, Valencia. Subs: Perez, Myers, Villegas.