Chaos, away goals end Metro season
November 5, 2017
Something was lacking this year. Maybe it's the lack of groundbreaking talent, or not being able to learn from mistakes, or not becoming more than the sum of the parts... it's hard to tell. It never really came together, not in the regular season, not even in the Open Cup run, and not in the playoffs. Well, let's take that back -- it came together in the playoff opener, when Metro romped 4:0 at Chicago. There would be no such romp today.
Coming off a disappointing 2:1 home defeat, Metro knew that they needed two goals in Toronto to have a chance to advance. They scored one, winning the game, but failed short on the despised away goals tiebreaker. (Where were you in 2013?) But the way this victory/defeat happened will forever go down in team lore.
Jesse Marsch switched to a 4-4-2, rearranging the deck chairs all over the field, but making only one personnel change: Gonzalo Veron for Sean Davis. Toronto seemed content on sitting back and absorbing the pressure, and Metro got exactly zero shots on goal in the first half.
And yet, in that first half, despite the lack of goals, something important happened. A foul by Sebastian Giovinco on Tyler Adams resulted in a confrontation between Sacha Kljestan and Jozy Altidore. The Metro captain tapped the Toronto forward, who fell down like a ton of bricks. We always loved Jozy, going back to his Metro beginnings. (We even tried to look past his failure with the US this year.) But that was an absolutely punk move... a punk move that hurt his team.
At the point of this writing, it's not clear what happened at halftime. Apparently, the confrontation continued into the tunnel, and Kljestan and Altidore were both sent off. That changed the game; all of the sudden, the field opened up. Metro started to control the ball, but with Toronto closing the middle of the field, it was still impossible to get through. And then, in the 53rd minute, Daniel Royer took a shot from midfield that redirected off Bradley Wright-Phillips and tucked into the right bottom corner of the net.
The English striker's 100th goal in all competitions would go for naught. Soon after, a Felipe ball sent BWP through, but, instead of chipping it, he hit it straight at the Toronto keeper. That was Metro's second and last shot on goal.
There were theatrics later, with Giovinco flopping and complaining, and a Toronto goal called back because of a foul. Alas, that late Metro push just never came. This year and today, something was lacking.
Let's call it heart.
Lineup: Robles, Lawrence, Perrinelle, Long, Murillo, Adams, Martins, Kljestan, Royer, Veron, Wright-Phillips. Subs: Davis, Etienne.