Freddy Adu may be a teenage phenom and he may have scored his historic first MLS goal. However, MetroStars (2-0-0) rookie Fabian Taylor proved in a 13-minute span of the second half why he could have more of an impact on the league’s landscape this season, scoring twice in a 3-2, come-from-behind victory Saturday over DC United (1-1-1).
Adu, while becoming the youngest player–at 14 years, 320 days–to score an MLS goal, was not the match’s impact player. Taylor was.
“I think my job was just to go [out] there and score, Freddy Adu or not,” Taylor said. “My job was to just go there and do a job for my team and score, so that’s what I did.”
United controlled the last 30 minutes of the first half with relentless pressure, and got a Ben Olsen goal in the 26th minute. The complexion of the match changed almost instantly upon Taylor’s insertion to start the second half, taking just four minutes to make his mark–which began a 13-minute stretch of domination by the MetroStars.
“We just stopped playing,” said DC United coach Peter Nowak of United’s second half performance. “For 45 minutes, we just stopped moving the ball. We just stopped moving forward. . . . We stopped playing soccer.”
In the 50th minute, former DC United midfielder Mark Lisi crossed the ball into the box for Taylor. United goalkeeper Doug Warren went airborne to make a diving stop on the header, but he could not clean up the rebound and an unmarked Taylor roofed home his first MLS goal to tie the match.
Controversy met the MetroStars’ second goal in the 57th minute. United defender Bryan Namoff, trying to clear the ball out of the back, was taken down by forward Eddie Gaven. With no call forthcoming by referee Alex Prus, MetroStars midfielder Amado Guevara swung the ball into the box for forward John Wolyniec. His diving header beat Warren inside the right post to give the MetroStars a 2-1 lead. Wolyniec was injured on the play, but returned to the match five minutes later.
“I’m not one to dive,” Namoff said. “I got the ball, and the guy was coming on me, and I was starting to run with it just to get out of traffic, and I kind of got clipped on both legs and the call wasn’t made. We’re not at home, and I don’t think it was a very good call.”
Nowak said “there was no question” it was a foul.
Taylor then put the MetroStars up 3-1 with his second goal in the 63rd minute, taking a pass from Gaven at the top of the 18-yard box–freezing Namoff–and slipped his left-footed shot past Warren’s left hand and into the right corner.
“He’s shown since he’s arrived that he has the ability to score goals,” said MetroStars coach Bob Bradley of Taylor. “He’s getting sharper everyday, he’s getting fitter. The thing that always impresses me is his ability to score in different ways. He’s able to score–to shoot equally well left-footed and right-footed. He still does well in terms of timing and getting up for headers. So . . . we saw a little of all those things. It’s a great sign.”
By the time the MetroStars had taken a two-goal lead, United had inserted both Adu and midfielder Josh Gros into the lineup–Adu received a loud ovation from the 31,419 at Giants Stadium. While the combination did not pay immediate dividends, they did get United back into the match in the 75th minute.
On a low cross from the left corner, Gros had his pass go through the legs of defender Tenywa Bonseu and past defender Jeff Parke and forward Ronald Cerritos. That left it for Adu to finish, as he cut in front of defender Chris Leitch and slid a six-yard shot past MetroStars’ goalkeeper Jonny Walker to cut the MetroStars lead to 3-2.
“It takes a lot of pressure off me,” Adu said of his first goal. “Every player wants to get their first goal, and once you get that first goal, you just want to go out there and start scoring more goals.”
Is Adu ready to play 90 minutes? He thinks so.
“I’m ready to start,” Adu said. “I feel I’ve been doing pretty well in training, so it’s up to the coach to decide whether to start the game or not. It’s real tough (not to start), but you know what? The coach makes the final decision, and he does what he feels is best for the team. As tough as it is, you’ve got to accept it, and just go with it.”
Adu had no time for a proper celebration, as United tried in vain to get the equalizer, and were left to rue missed opportunities in the first half, and wonder how they wilted in the second half on the Field Turf.
That turf played a factor in a 31st minute first half chance, one that saw midfielder Earnie Stewart break free on the right side. Instead of a shot, Stewart passed left to midfielder Dema Kovalenko, who could not catch up to the ball in time and pushed his shot wide of the left post.
Stewart and Kovalenko were instrumental on United’s first goal, as Stewart pushed the ball forward to Kovalenko near the endline on the right side. His cross escaped an outstretched Walker, and Olsen slammed home with his left foot for the early lead. Bobby Convey started the sequence, taking off with the ball from his own half following a MetroStars corner and from midfield sending a pass to Stewart on the right.
While United can take heart that they continue to receive solid production from their forwards–Alecko Eskandarian, Moreno, Cerritos and Adu–and applied sustained pressure for the last half-hour of the first half, they received an average performance otherwise for the rest of the match.
“I think we came out flat,” Olsen said of United’s start to the second half. “We came out complacent. And we thought, you know, we’ll get this one, we’ll get the 1-0 for awhile and then we’ll hold them off at the end. They get one, and then get two, and before you know it, we’re down 3-1 and at that point it’s a pretty big battle to get back on a team like that [with] a home crowd on this shitty turf.”
Warren, too, did nothing to solidify what had been considered a United strength going into the season. Veteran goalkeeper Nick Rimando, said to be “inconsistent” by Nowak, will likely take back his place in the lineup.
“That’s a tough one to take,” Olsen said of the loss. “I’ll be honest with you, that’s a tough loss for us. And I hope we learn from it as a team, and I hope we sort out the things that need sorting out. It’s not brain surgery. We’re coming out flat after we start getting the lead and we’re not finishing off our chances. And until we do that we’re gonna have a lot more games like this.”
Clearly disappointed in his team’s play, Nowak will seek answers to the loss of leads in the team’s last two matches.
“This is a good cold shower for all of us,” Nowak said.
Notes: United will play another nationally televised match Saturday at home against Chicago (ESPN2, 5 p.m. ET), then travel to San Jose for a rematch of the opener. Following that will be three straight at home against Columbus, Kansas City and the LA Galaxy. . . . With Adu’s historic goal, he breaks Santino Quaranta’s record for the youngest player to score in MLS. Quaranta had held the record at 16 years, 217 days. Also, Adu’s goal means that every United forward has scored a goal this season. . . . Moreno and Gros both picked up their second assists on the season . . . Taylor became the first player in MLS this season to score twice in a match. . . . Eddie Pope, playing his first match of the season, left the match in the 66th minute with leg cramps.
Adu Unofficial Stat Tracker
Minutes: 36+ (4 min. stoppage)
Tackled off ball: 4
Fouls Committed: 0
Fouls Suffered: 1
DC United 1–1—–2
DC — Ben Olsen 1 (Dema Kovalenko 1, Jaime Moreno 2) 26
MET — Fabian Taylor 1 (unassisted) 50
MET — John Wolyniec 2 (Amado Guevara 1) 57
MET — Fabian Taylor 2 (Eddie Gaven 2) 63
DC — Freddy Adu 1 (Joshua Gros 2) 75
DC United — Doug Warren, Mike Petke, Ryan Nelsen, Bryan Namoff, Earnie Stewart, Dema Kovalenko (Josh Gros), Brian Carroll, Ben Olsen, Bobby Convey, Alecko Eskandarian (Freddy Adu ), Jaime Moreno (Ronald Cerritos 67). Substitutes Not Used: Brandon Prideaux, Nick Rimando.
TOTAL SHOTS: 17 (Alecko Eskandarian 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Freddy Adu 2, Dema Kovalenko 2); FOULS: 11 (Brian Carroll 2, Ben Olsen 2); OFFSIDE: 3 (3 tied with 1); CORNERS: 4 (Bobby Convey 2, Earnie Stewart 2); SAVES: 7 (Doug Warren 6)
MetroStars — Jonny Walker, Craig Ziadie, Tenywa Bonseu, Eddie Pope (Jeff Parke 66), Chris Leitch, Joselito Vaca, Amado Guevara, Mark Lisi (Ricardo Clark 73), Eddie Gaven, John Wolyniec, Mike Magee (Fabian Taylor 46). Substitutes Not Used: Michael Bradley, Joey DiGiamarino, Sergio Galvan Rey, Tim Regan, Zach Wells, Cornell Glen.
TOTAL SHOTS: 21 (John Wolyniec 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 10 (Fabian Taylor 3); FOULS: 9 (John Wolyniec 3); OFFSIDE: 1 (John Wolyniec 1); CORNERS: 3 (Amado Guevara 2); SAVES: 5 (Jonny Walker 5)
DC — Bobby Convey (caution; Tackle from Behind) 10
DC — Ben Olsen (caution; Professional Foul) 88
Referee: Alex Prus
Referee’s Assistants: -Thomas Supple; Bill Dittmar
4th Official: Mark Geiger
Time of Game: 1:53