Reality hits Metro hard in Salt Lake, 2:0
March 17, 2012
It doesn't seem that long ago that Real Salt Lake was the laughingstock of the league. A terrible name, ugly uniforms, an incompetent coach, a clueless general manager, unremarkable players... Hell, Metro, no matter how bad they were, couldn't find a way to lose to these guys. My, how the things have changed... Tonight, Salt Lake, now one of the premier franchises in MLS, continued their recent dominance of Metro, dispatching them 2:0, and digging them into a two-loss hole to start the season.
Everyone knows that "Clever" Hans Backe rarely strays from a 4-4-2, but he did tonight, lining his team up in a 4-5-1 with Dax McCarty in central midfield in front of Teemu Tainio and Victor Palsson, the latter starting for the first time. Titi Henry was left alone up front.
Also uncharacteristically, Backe instructed his outside backs to stay back and not attack, seeming contempt with Salt Lake bringing the game to Metro. Which they did for most of the first half, New York's only chance coming against the run of play when Henry blazed upfield before running out of room. Then, in the 36th minute, Ryan Meara came up huge, stopping Paulo Jr. on a breakaway. Unfortunately, just three minutes later, Palsson turned the ball over with the team caught upfield. Stephen Keel fell trying to track back, and this time it was Fabian Espindola on a breakaway... and he did not miss.
At the half, Backe switched back to the good old 4-4-2 (be it nominal, with Titi always drifting backwards), inserting Kenny Cooper and Mehdi Ballouchy for Palsson and the again-injured Tainio. Metro showed some signs of life early, but... yes, of course, there is another but. Because of the two teams tonight, one has become a model franchise on and off the field, while the other... Anyway, Salt Lake cut through the Metro penalty area, Meara made the initial save, but the ball landed at the feet of Luis Gil. 2:0.
And, just like last week, down two, Metro came alive. And, just like last week, it was Cooper, left off the starting lineup by the "Clever" coach, leading the charge. However, unlike last week, he couldn't break through.
So now, Metro returns home (great tickets are still available!) and... A terrible name, ugly uniforms, an incompetent coach, a clueless general manager, unremarkable players... Sigh.
Lineup: Meara, Miller, Holgersson, Keel, Solli, Tainio, Palsson, Lindpere, Richards, McCarty, Henry. Subs: Cooper, Ballouchy.