Greenville holds key to Metros' Hunt Cup hopes

Tuesday, May 29, 2001 at 1:00am

The Nashville Metros now know how those besieged Federals at Fort Sumter felt after Paul Conway and his Charleston (S.C.) Battery comrades bombed them for a 5-2 win Saturday.

As with any loss in an ongoing campaign, however, there's no time to mourn the dead. The D-3 Pro League's Greenville Lions are coming, and a win over that team at Ezell Park Friday would give Nashville a berth in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup national soccer championship tournament for the second-straight year.

There will be no rest for the troops after that contest either, as they march on Ohio to take on their fellow A-League side the Cincinnati Riverhawks Saturday evening.

"There is a long season still ahead of us. All's not lost with one game," Metros coach Brett Mosen said following the Charleston loss. "We've got to be prepared. It's a great opportunity for us this weekend to get back on track. We want to win Friday to get into the Cup (tournament) and then go and get the four points (at Cincinnati)."

Nashville can qualify for the Cup spot because the Richmond Kickers defeated the Atlanta Silverbacks 2-0 Friday. Atlanta had led the group, but that loss - coupled with the two defeats the Metros handed them the week before - knocked Atlanta out of the top spot in the qualifying group with Nashville and Greenville should the Metros prevail Friday.

The Metros were known as the Tennessee Rhythm when they lost at the Cotton Bowl last June 14 to the Major League Soccer (MLS) Dallas Burn 3-0 in a lightning-interrupted game. The Rhythm kept Dallas from scoring while at even strength, but an injury to midfielder Danny DeVall and the ejection of former franchise-defender Adam Cohen opened the door for Burn scores that knocked them out of the competition.

Mosen and his side definitely want another shot at the 32-team intra-league tourney, in which the franchise also participated during 1998. They beat the MLS Kansas City Wizards in Nashville before losing to the Burn in Dallas - in addition to 1995 and1996 appearances.

In the present, midfielder Brian Hinkey and his mates remember the 0-0 draw they played at Greenville May 13, and they certainly are looking forward to the chance to make that previous result a faint memory. "We definitely feel like we're a better team than them, and we didn't play up to our potential up there, so we're looking forward to proving that this week," he said.

"Basically we're just looking for a good week of practice, to shake it off from Charleston and move on. There's nothing else to do," forward Jakob Fenger said.

Charleston's Blackbaud Stadium held the league's best-record teams and 2,827 fans last Saturday. Fenger scored off an assist from fellow striker Jeff Houser in the game's fifth minute to put Nashville ahead 1-0.

Conway, a forward who was the league's leading scorer last year and is in the same spot so far this season, had an answer for that goal six minutes later. He took the rebound off a miss from midfielder Jon Akin and put it home to equalize the tally. The talented striker then scored again in the 27th minute off an assist from midfielder Brian Piesner to give the home-standing Battery a lead they would not relinquish.

Piesner made it 3-1 with a 40th minute goal off an assist from Akin.Conway earned a hat trick as the half came to a close off an assist from Piesner to make it 4-1 Charleston at the interval.

"Conway is a quality player. All week we'd spoken about him, that any time there was an opportunity he'd try to take advantage, and that's exactly what he did," Mosen said. "I think our midfield made errors that opened it up for him and other Charleston players, but he did what he needed to do with the chances he got."

"They definitely put away their chances when they had them. They scored three goals off head balls so essentially they won the game in the air," Hinkey said.

It was Hinkey who gave the Metros hopes of mounting a comeback when he scored the team's second goal off an assist from defender Steve Kraemer in the 58th minute. Batter forward Velko Iotov answered that netter in the 62nd minute, however, with Akin providing his third assist of the night as the Battery improved their A-League record to 4-2 with 19 points.

Nashville is now 4-3 with 18 points on the year. The single-point difference between the two Central Conference opponents occurred because the league awards a point for a team scoring three or more goals in a game regardless of the result. Four points go to the winner of a contest, and teams that end tied get a point each as well.

"You play against possibly the favorite to win the title and it was the first time that many of our players had played against a side like that," Mosen said. "It could be a kick up the backside that we need to improve. Charleston's an excellent side, so we know where we stand and what we need to work on.

"And we're still just one point down with a bunch of games left to go this season. We're in a good position if we can just find the consistency we're been working toward so far. There's a lot of teams that play good one week and bad the next. We just need to have more up and less down."

The Greenville match begins at 7 p.m. Gates at Ezell will open at 5:30, however, to allow fans to meet and get autographs from some Tennessee Titans players who'll be on hand for the contest, according to team officials.

The names of those players were undisclosed at press time.

The Cincinnati contest at Galbreath Field just north of Kings Island, Ohio, starts at 6:30 p.m. CDT. Metros matches are textcast live at their Web site ( Ticket information is available at the Web site or by calling 832-5678.

Filed under: City News