Metro avoids play-in with 2:1 win over Toronto
November 8, 2020
Coming into the last game of the 2020 regular season, Metro had only one thing to play for: avoiding the play-in round. Only one combination results would allow for that: a win over Toronto, as well as a New England loss to Philadelphia. This is exactly what happened, as Metro scored two early, held on for dear life, and got some help from the Worms to enter the playoffs avoiding the extra game.
Bradley Carnell made small changes to the lineup, as Sean Davis and Florian Valot came in for Cristian Casseres and Alejandro Romero Gamarra, who will miss the playoff opener with post-international duty quarantine. Tom Barlow started for Samuel Tetteh.
While the White-Barlow tandem had been abysmal this year, that was not the case today. In the 24th minute, off a corner kick, White back-heeled the ball high in front of the net. Barlow, who usually misses, headed in at the far post. Just two minutes later, Davis swung the ball across the field to the right, and Kyle Duncan headed it across the box. White ran onto the ball at the left post and easily pushed it in.
Metro dominated the first half on both sides of the ball, but Toronto was better early in the second. Five minutes in, Ryan Meara made a big save, but the ball dropped to an unmarked Tsubasa Endoh, who halved the lead. And then...
Then Carnell decided to hold to the lead, switching to a five-man defense and hoping Toronto will not be able to get through. He bet correctly, Metro held on, and Philly won as well. This meant that after a season of turbulence, Metro improbably rose to 6th in the East. (And we're happy about that! Think how absurd that would have seemed just two short years ago.)
So, the shortest, and the same time, the longest regular season in MLS history ends. We're not expecting much from these playoffs, which Metro enters as a decisive underdog. Their opening opponent will be Columbus, who completely outplayed them back in the MLS is Back tournament.
It seems to be a tall order for this team, but crazier things have happened in 2020...
Lineup: Meara, Pendant, Long, Parker, Duncan, Yearwood, Davis, Stroud, Valot, Barlow, White. Subs: Royer, Casseres, Tarek, Egbo, Clark.