Valencia vs DC United
Metro at the Millennium: The Train and the Moustache
November 14, 2007

As Metro was coming off a terrible 1999 in which the team scored a pathetic total of 32 goals, it was obvious that some new forwards were needed. And before Clint Mathis dropped on the team's lap in May, came two offseason acquisitions in form of Colombians Adolfo Valencia and Alex Comas. Both ended up contributing to Metro, but sadly the positive contributions were limited to that one, the almost-magical 2000 season.

Comas was acquired first, on February 20th. To sign him, Metro traded another Colombian, Henry Zambrano, to Colorado for an allocation that they used to sign Comas. The twice-capped, gangly, moustached striker once led his country in goals and had scored over 100 goals in Colombia's top flight.

"El Tren" Valencia, nicknamed for his bruising style, has been rumored to be a Metro target since the team's inaugural season. Unlike Comas, he spent most of his career abroad, bouncing from Germany (Bayern Munich) to Spain (Atletico Madrid) to Argentina (Independiente) to Italy (Reggiana) to Greece (PAOK) with stops home in between. The veteran of the two World Cups (scoring twice in 1994) was signed on March 3rd.

The duo started slowly. Comas started the opener, scoring the lone goal in a 3:1 loss to Miami. Both scored in the home opening 3:2 win over DC, with Valencia's first goal coming on a penalty kick. But through mid-July, Comas just added a solitary league goal, as the arriving Mathis pushed him out of the starting lineup. Mathis did help to rejuvenate Valencia, who only had three goals until Clint joined. But he had two goals in Mathis' debut, the 3:2 comeback overtime win against Tampa Bay, and continued consistently scoring through the rest of the season. Valencia's best game came in an August rainstorm against New England, when he tied the game in the 88th minute and then headed in the winner in overtime. Then, of course, there was the overtime playoff winner against Dallas and the two-(almost three-)goal semifinal in Chicago. Valencia ended with a total of 16 league goals, a team record that wasn't approached until Juan Pablo Angel shattered it with 19 this year. However, his record of 21 goals in a year in all competitions still stands.

Comas started scoring in late July. He had a brace in a 4:2 win over Miami, and another one in the fateful Mamadou Diallo game in Tampa. His regular season ended with a hat-trick in a 4:3 loss to New England. Overall, Comas scored 13 league goals and added one in the Open Cup. Interestingly, he was never fully embraced by Metro fans; perhaps it was his goofy moustache, possibly his early-season slump, or that most of his goals seemed to come in losses.

So even after the playoff failure that ended the 2000 season, it looked like Metro was set up front for 2001. Sadly, that was not the case. Comas slumped badly, scoring just two goals before getting his release in late June. Valencia stumbled through the year with just five league goals, and his contact was not picked up the following January. Since then, Comas went back to Colombia, with some stints in Chile. Valencia returned to his home country as well, and also played in Venezuela and China.

Still, we look back fondly at the Comas and Valencia tandem (while not forgetting Mathis, who was the catalyst of much of their success). If only they could replicate their success for a longer time period...

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