Metro dominates Chicago, settles for 0:0 draw
August 8, 2010
Despite being the first team to field the league maximum of three designated players -- Juan Pablo Angel, Thierry Henry, and new signing Rafael Marquez were all named to the starting eleven tonight -- Metro failed to score a goal at Toyota Park and had to settle for a road draw against Eastern Conference rivals Chicago Fire. Metro certainly had the better of the play on the night, but poor finishing in front of goal conspired to keep them off the score sheet.
Other than the introduction of Marquez in the midfield, little changed from the previous match against Houston. The same back four took the field behind the Mexican captain and Tony Tchani in central midfield, with Joel Lindpere and Mac Kandji manning the flanks. The high-wattage duo of Angel and Henry paired up top once again.
By MLS standards, the first half was frenetic, with many scoring chances for both sides, yet neither team managed to put one in the net. Angel, Henry, and Kandji all had excellent attempts on net that were turned aside by Chicago keeper Sean Johnson. The fourth-round pick from UCF came up big time and again to deny Metro's star-studded attack throughout the game. Chicago's best chance came when Brian McBride slipped in behind the trap and crossed low to recent acquisition Freddie Ljungberg; the ball took a high bounce just as it reached the Swede, causing him to knock it behind the endline. In a worrying development for Metro fans, Henry appeared to sustain a groin injury (which is reportedly not serious) as the half drew to a close and was taken off just before the break in favor of Dane Richards.
The second half was even more lopsided than the first in Metro's favor, but once again it was all for naught. Kandji alone missed no fewer than four chances, two of which were unforgivable point-blank gaffes. In one such incident, Richards took the ball to the endline and slipped a pass across the goalmouth; Kandji, parked in front of the net, somehow missed. Angel looked dangerous late and nearly sealed the game with an excellent shot in the 83rd minute that sailed wide right. Tim Ream's last-gasp volley was expertly parried by Johnson in the 90th minute; the rookie was again stellar in keeping his overmatched side in the game despite the dominating Metro play.
With the signing of Marquez earlier in the week, reality began to live up to the expectations Metro fans had when Red Bull GmbH took control of the franchise in early 2006. The Austrians had finally flexed their financial muscle; the two recent additions are just barely on the wrong side of thirty and were regulars for one of the world's most celebrated clubs, FC Barcelona. While Sunday's game may not have equaled its billing, nor did it produce the result one would have expected, it will be very interesting to see how this team fares in the remaining twelve games on the schedule.
Lineup: Coundoul, Miller, Ream, Mendes, Albright, Marquez, Tchani, Lindpere, Kandji, Henry, Angel. Subs: Richards, Stammler, Ibrahim.