Metro weathers Colorado deluge, 1:1
July 4, 2010
This one had loss written all over it. A road match on July 4th, when home teams come to play and Metro has been traditionally awful. A game in Colorado, where New York was crushed 4:0 the last two times they visited. A drenching rainstorm. An early goal given up and what seemed a back-breaking second soon after... But tonight, it ended much better than expected. Metro fought back on a goal by Juan Pablo Angel, and held on for dear life to earn a point -- their first draw of the season.
For the first time all year, "Clever" Hans Backe abandoned his beloved 4-4-2 for a 4-5-1 (somewhere in Colombia, Juan Carlos Osorio is nodding in agreement). Dane Richards returned from injury to reclaim his spot on the right flank, and Salou Ibrahim sat, leaving Angel as the lone striker.
Colorado's goal came in the 15th minute after a stupid turnover by Sinisa Ubiparipovic in the Rapids' side of the field. Ubi needlessly gave the ball away, Metro was caught up field, and Colorado raced the other way. Omar Cummings beat Chris Albright to the cross, and the player Osorio used to yearn for gave the home team the lead.
That lead looked to be doubled in the 25th minute, as a quick break saw the ball being slid to Mehdi Ballouchy, who put one past Bouna Coundoul. But the play was called back on a foul by Conor Casey, and Metro breathed a sigh of relief.
That sigh of relief turned to a sigh of joy almost immediately. First, Richards sprung Angel on goal with a perfectly-placed through ball. On the second ensuing corner kick, Ubiparipovic redeemed himself by finding an unmarked Angel, who calmly slashed the ball through the net.
And here's the difference between Osorio and Backe: Osorio's used his 4-5-1 when playing for a draw. When it became clear the formation wasn't working, he'd attempt to adjust, shifting players more and more out of position. Tonight, when it became clear to Backe that his 4-5-1 wasn't working, he shifted to the familiar 4-4-2, with everyone knowing their responsibility. Metro actually had the better of the play for the period leading to Angel's goal in the 34th minute and into the second half. They had a good chance off a quick throw-in that caught Colorado off guard, but Joel Lindpere's cross did not meet its intended target.
But playing at altitude seemed to catch up with Metro. They spent the last third of the game defending almost exclusively, and were lucky to avoid defeat when an out-of-nowhere Ballouchy shot rang off the crossbar. Colorado would get a number of other chances, one off a Colin Clark dive late in the half, but Metro held on for the point.
Lineup: Coundoul, Borman, Ream, Mendes, Albright, Ubiparipovic, Stammler, Lindpere, Tchani, Richards, Angel. Subs: Ibrahim, Miller, Petke.