Makeshift backline wins Open Cup quarters, 1:0
July 13, 2017
At left back, a wing midfielder who was recently converted to right back. At center back, a central midfielder who was recently converted to center back. At center back, an outside back and wing midfielder who had never played center back professionally. At right back, a defensive midfielder who had never played right back professionally. Oh, and did we mention that the center back is 5'5" and the right back is 18 years old?
Somehow, it worked. Somehow, the makeshift defense of Sal Zizzo, Aaron Long, Connor Lade, and Tyler Adams collected a shutout. Somehow, Metro won a road Open Cup game at New England, of all places (it wasn't Foxboro, but who cares), advancing to the semifinals for the first time since 2003. Somehow...
And it wasn't some fluke. The Rev attack, which often ran straight through the (mostly first-team) Metro defense just a week ago was absolutely feeble. It was as futile an offensive performance as we've seen from an opponent in years. Heck, Lade won head balls. Connor Lade! 5'5"! Look at the picture!
Of course, a shutout is not enough to win a game; a goal is needed. And Metro's offense didn't exactly look up to par for the first half of the game. However, things started to look better in the second, and the turning point came in the 75th, when the Revs' Benjamin Angoua got a straight red for a tackle.
Sacha Kljestan hid the crossbar off a free kick, Metro had a couple of other close chances, and then... who else, but Bradley Wright-Phillips. In the 87th, Felipe fed him in the box, as a Rev defender was dragging the Englishman down. The magnificent BWP redirected it into the net for the gamewinner. He became only the third player in team history to score in league, Open Cup, playoff, and international play (Adolfo Valencia, John Wolyniec).
So, Metro moves on, to play in the semifinals against a minor league team: either Miami of the NASL or Cincinnati of the USL. Let's just hope that game doesn't require another miracle performance from a makeshift backline...
Lineup: Meara, Zizzo, Long, Lade, Adams, Martins, Davis, Kljestan, Muyl, Royer, Wright-Phillips. Subs: Veron.