10-man Metro demoralizes Atlanta, 1:0
May 19, 2019
Down a man with more than a half left. Facing a formidable opponent that hadn't allowed a goal in five games. Not having your best defender and forward on the field. This had loss written all over it... but a loss it wasn't. 10-man Metro used an improbable second-half goal from substitute Tom Barlow and a fantastic defensive performance to upend Atlanta, 1:0.
Last week's triumphant squad rotation took a backseat, as Luis Robles returned, as did many of the regulars. Metro was crisp out of the game, with Marc Rzatkowski hitting the crossbar after some good combo play early on.
In the 29th minute, Atlanta's rush upfield left with a supposed breakaway for Josef Martinez, only for Amro Tarek, lying on the ground, to miraculously recover and poke the ball away. Alas, the fate was not as wonderful six minutes later, when Tim Parker tugged on Martinez as the forward was making a run for goal. Somehow, the Metro defender got a straight red for "denial of obvious goal scoring opportunity", which seems rather absurd, since Martinez ended up with a shot on goal... which Robles did a fantastic job saving.
Down ten, Metro regrouped, inserting Sean Nealis for Andreas Ivan. The rookie defender helped them win the game, starting with a run out of the back in the 65th. The ball ended with Daniel Royer, who swung a cross to the left, where it was met by Barlow. The rookie's header doinked in front of the net, where it fooled Brad Guzan and bounced into the right corner.
Metro had the lead and kept it. Despite Atlanta's man advantage, they could do little to penetrate, with not one high quality chance the rest of the way. Kemar Lawrence was huge, breaking up play after play, once again proving that when he is on the field, the team's defense rises to a different level. Atlanta's frustrations were clear after the final whistle, when Hector Villalba (who, for some reason, was wearing short shorts), decided to attack Lawrence. That seemed rather pathetic, considering what help Atlanta have been receiving from referees, in this game and beyond.
So, with four wins in five games, are this season's early jitters out of the way? With a two-game week coming up, we'll see. Back to squad rotation?
Lineup: Robles, Lawrence, Tarek, Parker, Murillo, Davis, Rzatkowski, Ivan, Royer, Romero Gamarra, White. Subs: Nealis, Barlow, Muyl.