The Cooligans Podcast put me on to give a quick review of the 2015 Metro season. Give the pod a listen. Alexis Guerreros and Christian Polanco are good dudes, despite being NYCFC fans.
Two years ago, NY played Chicago Fire in their final game of the regular season. After 90 minutes and 5 goals, Metro got their hands on their very first trophy – the MLS Supporters’ Shield.
This year, it was a similar story: last regular season game against Chicago; a win guaranteed the Shield. But some details were different. This year there were no big names to score wondergoals or scrappy winners. Metro talisman Mike Petke wasn’t there to lead the team. And the game was at Toyota Park, a house of horrors we could never seem to win at. Metro wasn’t going to run away with a win.
The 2015 Shield had to be earned. And boy, was it earned.
2-1. Sacha Kljestan’s corner kick glanced off Sal Zizzo’s head and into the feet of Bradley Wright-Phillips –the ultimate scoring machine– right on Chicago’s doorstep for a tap-in. Mike Grella later won a penalty, which was expertly converted by Kljestan. Chicago came alive in the second half and scored. For some reason, NY felt the need to bunker down against the WORST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE.It got nervy. Dallas was winning their game against San Jose, and a Metro draw would’ve pissed it all away. But again – this was about earning a victory in Chi-town.
Who expected the year Metro is having? Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill left behind BWP as our only DP. Mike Petke was (unceremoniously and tactlessly) fired. Suddenly, 2015 was written to be a rebuilding year, but Jesse Marsch & Co. didn’t get the memo. This is a great team – skilled and well-drilled. Gone are the “Give the Ball to X and Hope for the Best” tactics. This current team isn’t run on star power, because the current team is the star. But if I may point some guys out for quick recognition:
- Dax McCarty has now worn the armband both times NY won the Shield. Another terrific season from the Ginger Ninja / Sex God. He’s quietly slipped into Metro Legend status.
- Bradley Wright-Phillips, sans Thierry Henry, is still as lethal as ever. 17 goals this season is nothing to look down on. He’s now 3rd all-time record goal scorer.
- Sacha Kljestan was our unconventional midfield maestro. A #8 playing as a #10. Rarely put a wrong foot in the entire season. Tied the single season assist record.
- Lloyd Sam scored a new personal best of 10 league goals this season – our second best scorer in 2015. I’m surprised he stays so fit with all the left backs he eats up on the reg.
- Luis Robles, the Based Shutout God, again made the case that he’s one of the best goalkeepers in MLS, and one of the greatest GK in Metro history.
- “Young Matt” Miazga has emerged as a phenomenal center back. Kid’s bound for Europe and the USMNT back line.
- Felipe is a stud. He grinds it out at DM every single game, and chipped in with an occasional goal. He’s an endearing weirdo. He reads all the tweets you tag him in.
- Mike Grella, AKA “Grellinho” AKA “Magic Mike” AKA “Mike-lemore” AKA”Grella Artois” AKA “Long Island Jesus,” exceeded all expectations. He broke records and ankles.
Metro’s work isn’t finished. Playoffs start soon, and we want MLS Cup. But I’ll celebrate a little now. The Supporters’ Shield is back in New York. Twist and motherfucking Shout!
C’MON YOU GUNNERS!
I LOVE THIS LEAGUE. Would the EPL pull this kind of stuff? Hell no.
That’s all could really do when the final whistle blew in the Belgium game. We were beaten by a good team – a team that could’ve locked the game away earlier had Super Timmy Howard went into God Mode. But there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed about. 31 teams will be eliminated when this is all over. And if you’re one of them, what matter is the impression you make.
Unlike 2010, I watched just about every qualifier the USA played leading up to this World Cup. I saw what this team went through to get to play just 4 more games in Brazil. Every lineup. Every debut. Every audition. Every last chance. So to see them go home after losing against Belgium is a bummer, but there’s so much more to be happy about. The USMNT played every game with blood and thunder, never-say-die football. Always playing for each other. No diving. No shitty “gamesmanship.” Sometimes the USMNT isn’t studded with individuals talents, but it’s a team. And that’s something they do better better than just about any other team in the world.
After we were placed in the “Group of Death,” nobody gave us a chance of advancing to the knockout round. But we did. We exorcised the Ghana demons. We were seconds away from knocking Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo’s sculpted bronze ass out of the World Cup. And somehow, we made a loss feel like a win against Germany. 4 points. 4 glorious points to escape Death and do what nobody thought we could.
So I’d just like to take a second and address a few people off the top of my head:
- To Jürgen Klinsmann: Jürgen, you flawless tropical sunfish. I love you. Don’t ever change. I disagreed with many of your decisions, and I was wrong almost 100% of the time. I trusted you coming into this World Cup; I trust you even more now. You made football better as a player. Keep doing it as our manager.
- To the American Outlaws: Keep doing what you do. You rock. I’m not an AO member, but I can never watch a USA game without you.
- To Jermaine Jones: I’m sorry I ever doubted you. I’m sorry for all the times I dropped you from the lineup whenever I played with the USA in FIFA. You were heroic in this World Cup. A picture of you needs to be next to the definition of the phrase “busting your ass” (or whatever the German equivalent is). Your goal against Portugal? *mwah* Thank you for leaving it all on the field.
- To DaMarcus Beasley: 4 Worlds Cups! 4 World Cups in a USA shirt! You’re the man, Run-DMB. Thank you for all your service in the name of US Soccer.
- To Julian Green: Did you like your first World Cup? Good. Because now we need you to get better. Much better. You’re not getting a free ride anymore. You need to deliver. Thanks for the goal against Belgium – it helped us all believe again. Remember that feeling. Crave it. You saw what Jermaine did? That’s the benchmark of effort. We’ll see you in 2018.
- To everyone so sure the US would crash out of the group stage: