Forwardless Metro pushed backwards, 1:0
July 17, 2022
There was a fairly even game played at Red Bull Arena tonight. In fact, one can say that Metro dominated for long stretches, controlling the game for at least the entire first half. But at the end there was one difference between the two teams: The blue poseurs have a quality MLS striker, and he scored the one chance he got to give his team a 1:0. Metro does not, and could not even place any dangerous shots on goal.
How bad is the striker conundrum? For the second time this year, Gerhard Struber elected to start Omir Fernandez as the lone forward, the so-called "false 9". And while Fernandez has many excellent qualities, a clinical finisher he is not.
And boy, did Metro need a clinical finisher today! The first half was a complete domination of the cross-river neighbors, with Metro jumping on every loose ball and letting very little through. Attack after attack, corner kick after corner kick... all wasted, because there was no one up top to finish.
Struber tried to change it up in the second half, but "Big, Strong, Fast" Tom Barlow made no difference. By the time ineffectual Patryk Klimala made it off the bench, Metro was down a goal. It happened in the 69th minute, when Valentin Castellanos ran past Sean Nealis, got at the end of a through ball, and one-timed it in.
But that's more 20 minutes left, surely Metro could conjure up something? Nope. In fact, the best chance the rest of the way came to the blue side, with Carlos Coronel making an incredible save on a free kick that looked distance for the top right corner. On the other end? Nothing, nothing, nothing.
It's simply amazing that Metro has been able to do well this year despite very little contribution from its supposed strikers. And now, with useless Ashley Fletcher sent home, Klimala invisible (when he is allowed to play), and Barlow being Barlow, where does it leave us...
It leaves us with the lowest payroll in the league. It leaves us with an obvious, glaring hole that needs to be filled if the team is to do any damage this year. There is a lot of quality on this team, starting at Coronel and going up the field. That quality stops at the forward line.
Your move, Herr Schneider. Your move, Red Bull overlords.
Lineup: Coronel, Tolkin, Long, Nealis, Edwards, Nealis, Amaya, Casseres, Morgan, Luquinhas, Fernandez. Subs: Barlow, Ngoma, Harper, Edelman, Klimala.