Shotless Metro somehow earns a 1:1 draw in KC
August 26, 2012
Billed all week as the weekend's marquee matchup, the clash in Kansas City between Metro and the Wiz proved to be a subdued affair. The struggle for Eastern Conference supremacy featured only a single goalscorer, as Kei Kamara tallied both for and against Metro in a 1:1 draw. Metro's winless streak on the road, stretching back to the May 19 victory in Montreal, is now at seven games.
At first glance, "Clever" Hans Backe appeared to have outwitted himself when the lineups were announced. The Swede opted to counter KC's 4-3-3 with a similar formation of his own, putting Kenny Cooper between Jan Gunnar Solli and Sebastien Le Toux up front. Dax McCarty and Teemu Tainio clogged the center of the pitch behind Tim Cahill, while Wilman Conde and Connor Lade flanked Hans' preferred central pairing of Heath Pearce and S. Markus Holgersson.
It didn't take long for the home side to break through. In the 4th minute, Teal Bunbury pressured Holgersson as a lobbed pass from Wiz creator Graham Zusi headed toward the penalty box; at the same time, Bill Gaudette came well off his line to challenge the ball at the edge of the box. Just before the Wiz forward and Metro keeper collided, Bunbury chipped ball toward Kamara, who easily outjumped the diminutive Lade and looped an easy header into the net.
Luckily for Metro, Kamara proved equally adept at scoring into his own goal. In the 28th minute, Le Toux sent a free kick from the left sideline toward the far post, where a diving Cahill was well-positioned to power the ball into the net. Abandoned by goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen in the six-yard box, Kamara did the only thing he could do as he was falling backward to block Cahill's attempt at goal: he deflected the ball off his noggin into his own net.
From that point forward, both sides seemed unable to break through in the final third. With Kansas City controlling most of the possession, Gaudette was the more active of the two keepers. Unlike last week against Portland, he was mostly left to deal with shots from range. Metro mustered a mere three shots total (not on goal, mind you) up through the 90th minute; one was a soft header from Cahill, the other two were woeful high misses from Le Toux and Solli.
What was perhaps the best chance of the game for Metro came deep into injury time. A long clearance off a Wiz corner kick ended up in the path of a streaking Le Toux, whose tired legs carried him toward the edge of the penalty box. Sensing that he could not threaten the goal alone, the Frenchman looked up and picked out McCarty, delivering a pass into the Metro destroyer's path. Sadly, McCarty made a mess of the play with a heavy first touch and lost control of the ball without ever taking a shot.
Week in, week out the Metro mantra seems to be "start strong", and yet again a flat first five minutes doomed the team to working back from a deficit. If that trend continues, it is unlikely that they will find themselves atop the Eastern Conference at the end of the season; rather, they will most likely be in the familiar position of fighting for one of the final playoff spots.
Lineup: Gaudette, Conde, Holgersson, Pearce, Lade, Tainio, McCarty, Solli, Cahill, Le Toux, Cooper. Subs: Lindpere, Miller.