Metro undone late in Utah, 2:1
June 23, 2016
Whether due to incompetence or through incomprehensible penalty decisions, since Salt Lake entered the league in 2005, Metro has yet to win a regular season game in Utah. The trend continued tonight as a heavily reworked Metro side started off strong but faded in the second half, losing 2:1. The result stopped Metro's winning streak at five games in all competitions.
After spitting fire at the league over his club's congested schedule this week, Jesse Marsch opted for significant rotation of his squad tonight. Aurelien Collin and Gideon Baah started in central defense while rookie Justin Bilyeu made his first league start at left back. Sean Davis partnered with Felipe underneath Lloyd Sam, as Alex Muyl took Sam's place on the right wing across from Gonzalo Veron. Leading scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips sat in favor of understudy Anatole Abang.
The match started with real promise as Metro took only seven minutes to get on the scoreboard. Taking Sacha Kljestan's place on corner kicks, Davis lofted the ball to the far post where Baah was tussling with his marker. The Ghanaian defender managed to rise and loop a header into Nick Rimando's net, despite Yura Movsisyan having a fistful of Baah's jersey.
Metro was mostly content to allow the hosts the balance of possession through the rest of the first half, but the second was more fiercely contested until Marsch made a tactical error inserting Chris Duvall for Veron in the 63rd minute. The decision to shift to an even more defensive stance was punished almost immediately by Movsisyan, as two minutes later the Salt Lake striker simply strode away from the distracted Duvall, finishing a John Stertzer feed to bring the game level.
Marsch attempted to rectify his faux pas by bringing Wright-Phillips on for Abang after Movsisyan's goal and Kljestan for Muyl shortly after, but the damage had been done. The hosts remained in control, and got the winner through a deflected Jordan Allen shot in the 88th minute.
As Marsch pointed out after Sunday's game, there's no rest for the weary, as the brutal schedule continues for the foreseeable future.
Lineup: Robles, Bilyeu, Baah, Collin, Zizzo, Davis, Martins, Sam, Veron, Muyl, Abang. Subs: Duvall, Wright-Phillips, Kljestan.