The Shield is ours!
October 28, 2018
There was a default scenario at play here that would render it all meaningless. Metro's fate was not in their own hands. All the wins, all the shutouts, all the records they achieved during the regular season would be rendered mostly meaningless if Atlanta won their game in Toronto. Thanks, Toronto!
Of course, Metro had to do their part, and they did so by the closest of margins, beating Orlando 1:0 on a goal by Derrick Etienne. Of course, the goal was just half the story.
Etienne might go on to do great things in his soccer career... or he can fizzle out. Every time we watch him play, we have no idea which way it will go. Today was the perfect example of such dichotomy... for the 2018 Shield clincher will forever go down as "The Derrick Etienne Game".
In the 15th minute, Bradley Wright-Phillips got knocked down in the penalty box, and the referee pointed to the spot. With Daniel Royer not at 100% and therefore not starting, everyone in the building expected Alejandro Romero Gamarra to take the kick. And yet, somehow Etienne stepped up, did a long-winded stutter-step, and had his shot easily saved by the Orlando keeper.
The good news is that by then Toronto was up one, and got their second soon after. At the half, Metro was top of the standings by the slimmest of margins: on goal difference of one. A goal from Atlanta, a goal from Orlando...
What we got was a goal from New York. In the 53rd, Etienne beat one defender to take the ball into the box, fooled another defender, and took a shot that bounced past the keeper's outstretched hand and into the net. And that was all Metro needed, because Atlanta utterly failed, getting a goal back and then allowing two more to walk off 4:1 losers.
To win THIS Shield is an incredible accomplishment. Remember, Atlanta's season would have won silverware in any other year, and Metro had to win their last five games, including topping their southern rivals. At the end, Metro set the league records for (non-shootout) wins (22) and points (71), while extending the team record for shutouts (15).
Of course, as much as we love the Shield, we want the Cup so much more. This team has done incredible things this year, but the job is not done. We said it in 2013, we said it in 2015, and we will say it 2018, hoping that the result is different:
Enjoy the Shield. Now take the Cup.
Lineup: Robles, Lawrence, Long, Parker, Murillo, Adams, Davis, Muyl, Etienne, Romero Gamarra, Wright-Phillips. Subs: Escobar, Royer, White.