When Chivas chickened out
April 7, 2018
Even though you might have heard that the matchup between Metro and Chivas is their first meeting in official competition, that is not exactly true. In fact, Metro was 2-0 against the Goats prior to this week's meeting. Both of those games ended with 2:0 scorelines, yet there were no goals scored. Confused yet?
Let's go back 17 years to Copa Merconorte. If you are not aware of that competition, that is forgivable: 2001 was the fourth and last time the tournament was held. Originally a CONMEBOL-only tournament, it was expanded to CONCACAF in 2000, opening its entry to MLS a year later. Metro and KC were selected to participate.
The MetroStars were drawn into a group with Venezuela's Deportivo Italchacao, Colombia's Millonarios, and, yes, Chivas. The tournament opened with an incredibly easy 2:0 win (Adolfo Valencia and Mike Petke scored) over Italchacao on August 8th, letting us believe that they can actually compete on the greater American stage.
A couple of weeks later, we were sent down to earth as Metro went to Colombia and lost to Millonarios 2:1 (Valencia again for Metro). And then September 11th happened.
And then, Chivas refused to travel to play Metro. You see, Guadalajara had a very important league match against rival Club America the same week, so the Goats decided to use September 11th as an excuse, citing safety concerns as their reason for pulling out of the match; never mind the fact that the game was scheduled for October 17th, more than a month after the attacks. The match was on, then off, then on, then finally off again...
"This is an incredibly unfortunate decision by Chivas," Nick Sakiewicz said at the time. "Not only do we find their fears unfounded, but we also find them a bit dubious, in light of their key Mexican league game coming up this weekend (against Mexican club America). It's even more unfortunate that Chivas has now disappointed the sizable Mexican fan base in our area."
Chivas' departure came with a price: the Goats expelled from the competition and banned from South American tournaments for two years. Metro was awarded two 2:0 wins and now needed a win in their last two games to win the group and advance to the semifinals. Alas, they blew it, first losing to Italchacao in Venezuela, then allowing a last-minute goal in a drab October 31st match to the Colombians, who ended up winning the competition over Ecuador's Emelec. Metro did not return to international competition until the ill-fated 2009 season.
So now, that "sizable Mexican fan base" that Sakiewicz mentioned will finally be satisfied, as Chivas gets to come to New Jersey for a game that counts. Another 2:0 win for Metro will suffice, won't it? Hopefully with goals being scored this time...