Metro holds off Atlanta in Florida opener, 1:0
July 11, 2020
Tonight, we're doing something we've taken for granted the last 19 years. We're writing a game summary. We've done it about 700 times, give or take. It's old hat, really; you start with a brief summary, go over lineup changes, key moments of the game, all the goals obviously, and end with a brief statement of frustration, exhaustion, or excitement. Quite often the first one, alas.
Oh, how we are relishing writing this summary! There was no frustration tonight! A win? Oh, sure, Metro won, holding on by the skin of their teeth against heavily favored Atlanta. But the result seemed largely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. After four months in virus-forced emptiness, we had soccer. We had Metro soccer. Let's get to the game summary!
Jason Pendant, signed two days before the shutdown, made his debut at left back. Aaron Long, who missed the first two games of the season, started as well, alongside Amro Tarek, who was preferred to Tim Parker. Tom Barlow got the nod up front, as Brian White suffered a knock in training. The rest of the lineup stayed the same from four months ago.
Metro started like we wanted them to: pressing the hell out of Atlanta. Just four minutes in, they did something every other MLS team had failed to do so far during the Florida tournament: score a first-half goal. Alejandro Romero Gamarra sent a fantastic one-touch through ball from his own half onto Florian Valot. The Frenchman, which nothing but empty space in front of him, took a few steps, drew out Brad Guzan, and slotted his first goal of the season.
Metro played its preferred game through the first half, letting Atlanta keep the ball and trying to maximize on turnovers. They had two excellent chances to score, first off a corner kick when Daniel Royer had his backpost run saved by Guzan. Late in the period, Cristian Casseres was through on goal, but failed to chip Guzan from short range.
On the other end, Metro kept it compact, and Atlanta rarely threatened, despite a couple of shaky moments from David Jensen, one of which ended with a hit crossbar. The second half saw few chances on either side, with Metro's best comping when Valot skied an Alex Muyl cross from close range. With the lead at one, Chris Armas elected to absorb the pressure late. Metro hanged on through seven minutes of injury time, punctuated with a terrific Jensen stretch save on a point-blank header as time was running out.
Wow, was that cathartic! For Metro and for us...
Lineup: Jensen, Pendant, Tarek, Long, Duncan, Casseres, Davis, Valot, Romero Gamarra, Royer, Barlow. Subs: Muyl, Fernandez, Stroud, Parker, Rzatkowski.