Battered Metro caught by LA, robbed by ref, 2:2
August 7, 2016
Wow. What else can you say after a game like that? Three injuries -- two in the first thirty minutes alone -- two unforgivable botched penalty decisions, and a Jesse Marsch ejection later, Metro leaves Los Angeles with a 2:2 draw. A scoreless first half gave way to pandemonium in the second stanza as Metro took a two-goal lead through Gonzalo Veron and Sean Davis, only to see it slip away as stoppage time approached.
Marsch once again rotated the squad after the midweek Champions League game, restoring much of his preferred eleven to starting roles. Kemar Lawrence remained at left back, shifting Connor Lade to the right side. Ronald Zubar paired with Damien Perrinelle in central defense behind the midfield trio of Sacha Kljestan, Felipe, and Davis. Mike Grella and Alex Muyl flanked Bradley Wright-Phillips up top.
In a week that saw Metro lose their captain to a vicious challenge against Chicago, injuries were again the talking point in the first half. Perrinelle and Lade were lost in quick succession on opposite sides of the field by the 32nd minute. The latter's injury appeared to be season-ending, which would be cruel for the homegrown hero who finally locked down a starting role. The error-prone Sal Zizzo entered for Lade, while Aurelien Collin, black bandage on his head matching the color of his left eye, replaced Perrinelle.
Marsch would have to use his last substitution of the match only two minutes into the second half. Wright-Phillips went down with an injury that he carried through the break, giving way to Veron. The Argentine designated player, maligned by fans for much of the year, appeared to sense the opportunity in front of him and played his best match of the campaign. For the 13th time this year, Kljestan registered an assist for his through ball to Veron in the 68th minute. Veron's classy finish past the overmatched Brian Rowe showed why the Metro staff is reluctant to give up on him just yet.
Davis scored the first league goal of his career in the 74th on a nifty far post curler, seemingly putting the match out of reach, but then calamity struck. Metro reject Mike Magee scored a trademark garbage goal to cut the deficit to one in the 80th minute, then five minutes later incompetent referee Hilario Grajeda refused to call an obvious foul on Rowe, who took down Muyl in the box. This happened not once, but twice in a five-minute span; Veron was also taken down illegally by Rowe in the 90th minute. Sandwiched between the two was Ashley Cole's equalizer in the 88th, the Englishman set up neatly by Zizzo, whose attempted clearance of a Steven Gerrard cross dropped right to Cole's feet at the far post.
The draw means Metro maintains the largest differential in the league between home and road performance. Even though the match was clearly influenced by poor officiating, at some point this year Metro needs to demonstrate the ability to get a result on the road or dreams of playing in MLS Cup will be swiftly dashed come October.
Lineup: Robles, Lawrence, Perrinelle, Zubar, Lade, Davis, Martins, Kljestan, Grella, Muyl, Wright-Phillips. Subs: Collin, Zizzo, Veron.