Metro claims playoff berth with 1:0 win over KC
October 2, 2010
Yes, it wasn't a pretty game. Yes, they didn't exactly play well. Yes, they made many mistakes.
All that matters is the final score: New York 1, Kansas City 0. Behind Dane Richards' early goal, Metro dumped the Wiz and claimed a playoff berth with three games left. And with Columbus tying San Jose, Metro now owns first place in the East with a one-point lead over the Crew. And that's all that matters tonight.
Rafael Marquez didn't pass a fitness test, so Thierry Henry's return from injury meant a Designated Player swap. Mehdi Ballouchy had to move further back in midfield to compensate. Chris Albright took back his usual right back spot from Carey Talley.
The goal came six minutes into the match. Off an Albright throw in, Dane Richards let the ball bounce, then blew past Jimmy Conrad and into the penalty area. The Flying Jamaican scored -- again! It was his fourth goal in six matches.
Richards had most of Metro's chances, pulling one wide and hitting the post on a late breakaway. But Metro chances were in the minority, as the tentative Ballouchy failed to take charge in the midfield. Kansas City, desperate for a victory, controlled most of the match, reducing New York to counterattacks.
Yet they couldn't break through. Their 27 shots, 12 of them on goal, were all for naught. Tim Ream was terrific in defense, and Bouna Coundoul, despite some shakiness with his hands, was at his best. One one occasion, he stopped breakaway by Teal Bunbury. On another, parrying Jack Jewsbury's long blast over the bar. But the lasting moment was Coundoul dangerously roaming at the edge of the penalty area, denying Bunbury my grabbing the ball off his feet.
And Metro held on. Did they ever. Late sub Mike Petke made the best of his fleeting time with a precise tackle in the box. And then, in injury time, after a phantom free kick was awarded (somehow, the referee called every Metro infraction, yet when Juan Pablo Angel was clearly taken down in the penalty area, no foul was called), the Wiz cleverly played it short on the ground, but once again, Coundoul swarmed the ball. The shutout was his 10th of the season, breaking Tony Meola's record set in 1996.
New York 1, Kansas City 0. That's all that matters.
Lineup: Coundoul, Miller, Ream, Mendes, Albright, Tchani, Ballouchy, Lindpere, Richards, Henry, Angel. Subs: Robinson, Petke.