Oct. 2, 2004
LET'S NOT GET PHYSICAL
United's rugged play stymies Metros, 1-0
By Michael Lewis
|Metros coach Bob Bradley said his team endured a "frustrating night. At the end of the day I donít think we were good enough on some of the plays that would have put us back in the game."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
East Rutherford, N.J. -- Don't hold your breath about the MetroStars taking home the Eastern Conference crown this season.
The Metros are longshots of making that fantasy into a reality after they lost to D.C. United, 1-0, on Saturday night. In fact, they would be better off worrying about securing second place.
Teenage phenom Freddy Adu made sure the Metros have virtually no chance of catching the Columbus Crew as he scored the lone goal of the MLS match and fifth of his rookie season before 32,161 fans at Giants Stadium.
Coupled with the Crewís 3-3 draw with the Chicago Fire, the Metros (11-11-6, 39 points) fell five points behind the conference leaders (12-5-10, 46) and a three-point advantage over third-place United (9-10-9, 36).
The Metros are longshots to catch the Crew. They would have to win both their remaining matches and have the Crew gain only one point in its last three. The Metros host the Crew Saturday and visit United on Oct. 17.
"It's difficult," goalkeeper Jonny Walker said of the team's chances of catching Columbus. "The important thing now is concentrate on getting some momentum heading into the playoffs. . . . D.C. is shaping up as the team we would be playing in the playoffs."
Judging last night's performance, that might not necessarily be a good thing. United played without three key starters -- Ryan Nelsen (one-game suspension) and forwards Jaime Moreno (strained hamstring) and Alecko Eskandarian (one-game suspension).
Yet, D.C. was good enough to take home three points.
"Frustrating night," Metros coach Bob Bradley said. "At the end of the day I donít think we were good enough on some of the plays that would have put us back in the game. It was a tough loss. I thought the effort was good. When you fall behind it has to be more than just that. That is where I think we let ourselves down.Ē
Like a number of teams earlier this season, United used physical play to keep the Metros off balance. D.C. finished with 26 fouls to the Metros' 12.
"Any time we got an advantage, they fouled us," Bradley said.
Regardless what transpires for him the rest of the season, 15-year-old Adu certainly will have some pleasant memories of Giants Stadium. He scored his first pro goal there in the Metrosí 3-2 victory on April 17 and he wound up with the game-winner in the 16th minute on Saturday night.
"I'm liking this stadium," said a smiling Adu, whose right-footed shot from the top of the penalty area deflected off defender Jeff Parke and past Walker.
"He must practice it," Walker jokingly said.
Well, sort of.
"Whenever you have the ball in front of the goal and there is chaos in front of the goal this is what they teach you at practice -- hit the ball hard," Adu said. "It deflects off somebody, keeper's out of position and in the net. It went in and I'll take it.Ē
Three minutes after his goal, Adu was involved in a skirmish. Adu fouled Chris Leitch at midfield, precipitating a pushing match (Leitch played an extremely physical game in Aduís first MLS pre-season game in Bradenton, Fla. in February). Forward Mike Magee pushed Adu and the teenager pushed Magee back. Both were given yellow cards.
"The ref called a foul on me and I complained a little bit," Adu said. "I was walking away and Michael Magee comes out of nowhere and pushes me. What are you doing?
"Before they did that trying to intimidate me. I'm not going to stand for that anymore. I don't care how young I am. I'm going to protect myself and my teammates."
After Adu's goal, United went into a defensive shell.
"We cut off the lanes that they wanted to play through," said former Metros defender Mike Petke. "Good organization and communication were key."
Added Metros midfielder Eddie Gaven: "It was just a little tough after they scored that goal. They brought their whole team back, which made it tough for us to break through."
Magee, who left the game in the 27th minute with a concussion after he was fouled by defender Bryan Namoff, has been listed as doubtful for next week.