Metro snuffed out by San Jose, 2:0
April 14, 2016
Stop us if you've heard this one before -- an energetic Metro side controls the balance of play for nearly an entire half before conceding on a defensive miscue. Shaken, the fragile defense makes a mental error shortly after, putting the game all but beyond reach with any semblance of offense nowhere to be found. It was very much the same old, same old for Metro in the first game of their Western Conference road trip, as the defending regular season champions fell to the Earthquakes 2:0.
Before the season, head coach Jesse Marsch promised to rotate his squad more frequently than during last year's title-winning run, and tonight he delivered. 17-year-old(!) academy product Tyler Adams made his MLS debut in Dax McCarty's spot next to Felipe, while Sacha Kljestan sat in favor of Sean Davis. One of the Wright-Phillips brothers started, but it's not the one you're thinking of: Shaun Wright-Phillips was given the nod on the left wing, while Bradley Wright-Phillips made way for Anatole Abang. The defense remained the same with the exception of Kemar Lawrence, who displaced the miscast Chris Duvall at center back.
Particularly in midfield, the changes appeared effective from the opening whistle. Despite losing decades of experience through Kljestan and McCarty, Metro moved the ball swiftly through the middle of the park and denied possession to the home side. However in the final third, as has been the case all year, sharpness was lacking. Abang, often cited by a certain sect of fans as a possible answer to Metro's goalscoring woes, was ineffective settling the ball at his feet or picking it out of the air. Not that he was given much support; neither of the English elder statesmen on either side of the young Cameroon international offered much of a threat.
So the game went, deadlocked at nil-nil, with the hosts all too happy to sit back and absorb pressure. The first real chance of the game came in the 33rd minute, when Lawrence then Felipe in immediate succession slipped and fell with the ball at their feet. The opportunistic Chris Wondolowski scooped up the loose ball and drove hard toward the Metro goal, firing fractions of an inch wide of the far post.
Metro wouldn't emerge unscathed from their next mistake. After Lawrence and Adams were unable to clear the ball from their penalty area, San Jose's Fatai Alashe attempted a low shot from outside the box. The ball took a deflection off the recovering Lawrence, altering its trajectory just enough to skip past the diving Luis Robles.
Down a goal at the half, Marsch went to the bench, bringing on Kljestan for Adams and swapping one Wright-Phillips brother for the other. Ten minutes into the half, the Earthquakes made both changes moot. Shea Salinas (remember when Rafa Marquez broke his collarbone for no reason? What a douche) crossed into the box where Wondolowski had inexplicably slipped past Lawrence, surely one of the easiest goals the San Jose striker has ever scored. It's necessary here to point out that the Jamaican international is a fullback being played out of position by a desperate and foolhardy administration that had a perfectly serviceable replacement on trial for the past two weeks. Don't worry though, Ronald "Whiffed Clearance" Zubar will be healthy soon!
After six games, Metro's record stands at one win and five losses; they haven't scored a single goal in any game other than the win against Houston. When will the bleeding stop?
Lineup: Robles, Lade, Lawrence, Ouimette, Zizzo, Adams, Martins, Davis, Wright-Phillips, Sam, Abang. Subs: Kljestan, Wright-Phillips, Grella.