Metro holds off Dallas in the slop, 2:1
March 9, 2024

New York Dallas
03.09.24 · League

In the not-too-distant past in New Jersey, it was possible that an evening in early March might be marked by snowfall; these days, that manner of precipitation is increasingly rare (thanks, climate change!) and has been replaced by long stretches of rain. Such was the case in tonight's match, which took place in a consistent, driving rain that bordered on downpour periodically. Metro was not hampered by the conditions however, putting together a strong offensive showing in a 2:1 defeat of visiting Dallas.

Fresh off his rousing substitute effort against Houston, Lewis Morgan was given his first start of the season. Head coach Sandro Schwarz shifted the formation from the company standard 4-2-2-2, dropping Emil Forsberg into a central attacking midfielder role flanked by Morgan and Peter Stroud, with Elias Manoel alone up top. The reconfigured attacking unit started off with promise, but the first major scare came from the visiting side just before the 20th minute. Under pressure while in full retreat on the left side, Daniel Edelman hit an errant back pass that split the center backs and ended up on the foot of Dallas striker Bernard Kamungo. Carlos Coronel, in typical fashion, had fully committed to an attempted clearance miles outside the box. Luckily, Kamungo attempted an early strike past Coronel and missed the goal completely.

After another ten minutes of tussling between both sides, it was Metro who struck first. A scintillating lobbed pass from John Tolkin landed almost exactly on Morgan's foot on the left side of the box. The Scotsman controlled the ball expertly on the bounce, and in doing so was pulled down from the shoulder by Emmanuel Twumasi. Even the scab referee couldn't miss such an obvious offense, and the penalty call was issued immediately. Morgan handed the ball to Forsberg in a gentlemanly manner, and the Swede repaid the favor by burying the kick to the bottom left of the goal, tallying his first goal as a Metro.

Twumasi in particular looked like he'd rather be anywhere other than the waterlogged pitch at Red Bull Arena, and spent the rest of the night desperately holding on for dear life as his flank was battered by wave after wave of Metro attacks. The Ghanaian survived the remainder of the first half, but had a front row seat as Metro doubled its lead early in the second. After Frankie Amaya cleverly intercepted a pass from Jesus Ferreira, he pivoted and played the ball to Manoel in the center of the field, who chipped a splendid one-touch through ball to Forsberg. The Metro captain drove hard toward goal, passing to Morgan from the edge of the box. Twumasi, beaten for pace by Morgan from the moment the ball left Manoel's foot, chased him in vain as Morgan coolly slotted the ball to the keeper's right.

The celebration would be short lived however, as Dallas clawed one back a few minutes later. A ridiculous Kyle Duncan foul (charitably described in the broadcast as "a rather robust challenge") at the edge of the box set up Ferreira with a free kick. A disorganized, half-assed five-man wall left a gap, and Ferreira didn't miss, placing his shot past the diving Coronel.

Metro should have had three in the 70th minute. Tolkin, who terrorized Dallas from the left all night, knifed in a glorious low cross that skidded across the wet grass to find Cameron Harper's foot all alone in the center of the box. The young winger, introduced to the game only moments earlier, badly mishit the ball and watched it veer away from the goal.

The narrow margin meant there was tension until the final whistle, and a key Coronel intervention late helped secure the full three points. As the match entered the 89th minute, Paul Arriola served in a cross that found Petar Musa alone in the box. The striker rose to head the ball on goal, but Coronel made a controlled diving save and punched it clear.

Two Morgan goals in two games, a goal and an assist from Forsberg tonight, two wins from three matches -- is it too soon to say Metro is back? Probably, but we're enjoying the best start this team has had in a half-decade. There's more work to be done, and the right back position has been problematic, but this is a team that underperformed its xG by 0.6 tonight and has consistently looked capable of scoring more than two goals in a game. When was the last time you could say that?

Lineup: Coronel, Tolkin, Nealis, Eile, Duncan, Edelman, Amaya, Stroud, Morgan, Forsberg, Manoel. Subs: Harper, Burke, Carmona, Nealis, Reyes.

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