Metro collapses for terrible tie with Crew, 1:1
June 4, 2011
When cries of "deepest team ever" echoed through the preseason, we were confused. Sure, the starting eleven looked to be strong on paper, and a few players after that created a solid core. But once you get past the first 15... well, we were gonna found out in June, weren't we?
For June was the Gold Cup month, with Metro losing five from that core to international duty. And coming off a winless May, that depth would have to hold up to keep Metro in the hunt. Tonight, it did... until injury time, when a terrible sequence led to an equalizing goal from Columbus. The 1:1 tie is Metro's fourth consecutive draw.
With Tim Ream, Juan Agudelo, and Dwayne De Rosario finally departing, their spots were filled by Mehdi Ballouchy, Austin da Luz, and Thierry Henry: Ballouchy on the right, meaning Jan Gunnar Solli was pushed to his usual right back slot, sliding Carlos Mendes to the middle. Da Luz's start on the left side of midfield was his first as a professional. Titi, still not 100%, had to give it a go.
The Metro goal came nine minutes into the match, when Solli played a long ball to Luke Rodgers, who, as always, was treading the offside line. This time, the bald Englishman was kept on, and took the ball to his right, drawing Columbus defenders. Ballouchy ran into open space, received the ball from Rodgers, and chipped it past Will Hesmer for the early lead.
28 minutes into the match, Metro depth had to be tested once again. Solli, ever-present on the season up to that point, had to be taken off with a hamstring injury. Matt Kassel, nominally a midfielder, made his second pro appearance... as a right back.
For a while, it looked like Metro would survive. Columbus' attack, led by the inept Designated Player Andres Mendoza, was impotent. On two occasions, Mendoza was left alone in the box, but shanked one to the right, and sent a header flying that would have missed the net twice the size. Metro attack couldn't produce much, but it didn't need to. It looked liked a victory would be eked out.
Until two minutes into injury time, when Ballouchy needlessly lost a ball on the right wing. Columbus rushed down the field, with Kassel unable to stop the attack. The ball was centered, Stephen Keel was caught ball-watching, and Rich Balchan slammed home the equalizer.
The month is young...
Lineup: Sutton, Miller, Keel, Mendes, Solli, Tainio, da Luz, Ballouchy, Lindpere, Rodgers, Henry. Subs: Kassel.