Metro snaps road winless streak in Seattle, 1:0
April 4, 2010
Even with head coach "Clever" Hans Backe sidelined with stomach pains, Metro made it two for two in 2010, winning in Seattle for the first time in franchise history. Assistant coach Richie Williams stepped in to run the show and only managed to snap Metro's league-record regular season road winless streak in the process. It was the first time since May 10, 2008 -- when Metro downed the Galaxy by a score of 2:1 -- that the club tasted victory on the road.
Predictably, Williams stuck with the same four players the team has employed across the backline in recent weeks: Jeremy Hall, Mike Petke, Tim Ream, and Roy Miller. Seth Stammler got the nod in central midfield in place of Carl Robinson alongside the stalwart Joel Lindpere. As in the Santos game, Sinisa Ubiparipovic and Dane Richards manned the flanks, with Macoumba Kandji and Juan Pablo Angel paired up top. The rambling Bouna Coundoul remained in net.
Metro nearly got off to a flying start once again as Lindpere fired over the crossbar on a beautiful turn-around shot in the 6th minute. Four minutes later Seattle's Freddy Ljungberg came in hard on Mike Petke as the latter attempted to clear the ball; the foul, which earned Ljungberg an early yellow, was emblematic of the two sides' competitive intent in the early part of the game. Only two minutes later, a dangerous free kick from Angel was pushed wide by Kasey Keller, just out of the reach of the onrushing Petke.
The deadlock would be broken shortly thereafter in the 21st minute. Lindpere, apparently the new Metro master of the set piece, lofted a corner kick toward the far post. The ball bounded off Miller, and bounced right into the path of Kandji who blasted a shot off the bottom of the crossbar and into the net. The lead was very nearly a short one as Steve Zakuani beat the well-regarded Ream off the dribble outside the box and forced a Coundoul save in the 23rd. Roughly ten minutes on, Kandji found himself facing goal with the ball at his feet and only Keller to beat. The former US international cut down the angle and expertly parried Kandji's shot.
Throughout the first half, the Sounders rarely looked dangerous going forward, and for much of the second half that remained the case. Eight minutes after the start of the game's second stanza, Angel nearly increased the margin to two goals. A superb Ubiparipovic through ball from the left sprung Kandji, who intelligently centered the ball to an unmarked Angel. Although his shot was well-placed, the Cherubic Assassin was denied by another outstanding save from Keller.
Neither side would create another chance until the game's final twenty minutes, when Seattle would finally start to come to life. In the 69th, Coundoul did well to get a hand on a Zakuani shot that passed across the goalmouth and would have gone in without intervention. Despite being left all alone in front of goal, Ljungberg missed on a headed chance in the 77th. Danleigh Borman, who entered the game for Ubiparipovic, very nearly had an assist in the 80th when he fed a perfect cross to an unmarked Richards, who missed the sure scoring chance. Finally, Coundoul made fans' hearts skip a beat a minute later when he dropped a Ljungberg free kick, but recovered to remove the danger once and for all.
What is remarkable about this team's current run of form is that they have done it mostly with players from 2009's nightmare campaign -- eight of the eleven starters tonight were around for the disastrous tenure of Juan Carlos Osorio. Considering that Metro hasn't lost a single game, competitive or friendly, since the calendar turned over to 2010, and considering that the team already has forty percent of last season's win total, one could argue the move to appoint Soler and Backe has already paid dividends.
Lineup: Coundoul, Miller, Ream, Petke, Hall, Ubiparipovic, Stammler, Lindpere, Richards, Kandji, Angel. Subs: Borman, Chinn.