History of Metro playoff clinchers
Metro vs Miami, 2001
September 28, 2010
The playoff situation is simple for this week: if Metro beats Kansas City, they are in. No other scenarios would qualify them; of course, with four games left, there is still room for error (although we've said that before). So let's look at how Metro qualified for the playoffs the ten previous times they made the post-season:
September 18, 1996: MetroStars 1, Columbus 0 (1 game left)
Coming into the season's penultimate game, Metro had a three-point lead on last place New England, who had only had one game left. So a win, regulation or the shootout variety (worth one point) would do. Metro got it done for the full three points, as Antony "El Pitufo" De Avila did what he did best, running onto a bouncing ball on the AstroTurf and putting it past Brad Friedel for the lone goal of the match.
August 30, 1998: Miami 3, New England 2 (5 games left)
The earliest Metro ever clinched a playoff berth, and it wasn't even on their own accord. The day prior, Metro lost to Dallas 2:0, but Tampa Bay and New England were so bad in 1998, the former already couldn't catch Metro at this point. The latter lost to Miami, making the gap too large to cover. Metro, losers of two straight at that point, would lose four more, fire Alfonso Mondelo, and limp into the postseason under the tutelage of Bora Milutinovic.
August 26, 2000: Dallas 4, MetroStars 6 (3 games left)
Now there's a playoff clinch for the ages! In an epic match, Metro came into Dallas and dumped the Burn, with Clint Mathis scoring league-record five goals. That gave Metro the East title, the first -- and so far only (are you listening, Hans Backe?) -- time that happened.
August 25, 2001: Miami 2, MetroStars 3 (4 games left)
Another terrific win for Metro, as Petter Villegas tied it in the 84th minute, and Daniel Hernandez boomed a free kick into the net in the 88th to dump league-leading Miami. Because of 9/11 canceling the last two games of the regular season, it might look like Metro clinched with only two games left, but that wasn't the case at the time.
October 5, 2003: San Jose 0, MetroStars 2 (3 games left)
Remember when Landon Donovan was just a whiny little bitch? Oh, right, last week. But that was no match to this game in 2003, when he whined and hacked and got what he deserved, as Metro beat the Quakes behind goals by Amado Guevara and Steve Jolley. With MLS down to ten teams and back to East/West playoff format, that gave Metro enough of a cushion over Columbus.
September 25, 2004: Dallas 0, MetroStars 2 (3 games left)
Eerily similar to the year before, a 2:0 road win, only this time Jolley wore the goat horns. He had been traded Dallas, and Cornell Glen abused him on the second goal. The game-winner was scored by John Wolyniec. This time, the cushion was created over New England.
October 16, 2005: Chivas USA 0, MetroStars 2 (0 games left)
What do you know, another 2:0 road win! And what a glorious one, this one. Let's recap: Alexi Lalas idiotically fired Bob Bradley. Coming into the season's last weekend, Metro and Kansas City were tied on 44 points for the East's last playoff spot. If the Wiz won, Metro couldn't catch them because of the goal difference tiebreaker, but they tied, actually coming back from two goals in Dallas to earn the point. So Metro needed to win and win only, and this is what they did. Michael Bradley headed in his lone Metro goal (we think that kid will turn out alright), Amado Guevara added the second, and the resurrected Toyn Meola played the game of his life to preserve the shutout.
October 14, 2006: New York 3, Kansas City 2 (0 games left)
Another simple scenario: Metro was two points back of the Wiz, and they played each other on the season's last day. A win and Metro was in, a tie was not enough. They went down early, but then Amado Guevara scored three -- two off penalty kicks -- before Kansas City got one late to make it interesting. Lame, lame Kansas City.
October 6, 2007: Columbus 3, Dallas 1 (2 games left)
Two days earlier, Metro could have clinched, but lost in Toronto 2:1. But a Columbus win over Dallas did it, in an overly complicated playoff scenario the league itself could not calculate. It took this very website to explain it all.
October 26, 2008: Columbus 1, DC United 0 (0 games left)
Talk about backpedaling. Coming into the season's last week, Metro had a two-point lead on DC for the last playoff spot. A win would be enough, a tie would basically clinch it because of Metro's superior goal difference. They went into Chicago and got spanked 5:2 (the final score was not indicative of the beatdown they received). So a DC win would put the Scum in, but they went into Columbus and choked. Somehow, Metro turned this dubious entry into the best playoff run in team history... until this year, we hope.