In sports it's often been said that playing to a tie is like kissing your sister.
The Nashville Metros may want to dispute that after a 1-1 double-overtime draw Saturday on the road against the Richmond Kickers. After playing a man down for the last 35 minutes and weathering 30 shots on goal, a tie in this case might be like kissing a girl who's so distantly related that it's legal to marry her.
"Obviously we were going in looking for four points, but being down to nine men for the last 35 minutes, we feel getting the one point was a good result," said Metros coach Brett Mosen as his squad went to 4-4-2 with 20 points on the season so far. "At least we didn't get further away (in the standings from the conference leaders)."
The Central Conference-leading Charleston Battery (6-4-1, 28 points) were upset 3-2 at home Saturday by the Indiana Blast (3-4, 15 points), leaving them just four points ahead of Richmond (5-2-2, 24 points). Atlanta beat the Cincinnati Riverhawks 3-0 Saturday to improve to 5-4 with 22 points and move into third place just ahead of Nashville.
A-League teams get four points for a win, one point for a draw and one point if they score three or more goals in a match.
The game was scoreless until the 58th minute. Kickers forward Josh Henderson took the ball to the top of the Metros' box and passed to midfielder Tony Williams. Nashville goalkeeper Cole Burgman came out to cut off the angle for Williams' possible shot, so he passed back to the middle where a wide-open Kevin Jeffrey tapped it into the open net behind Burgman for a 1-0 lead.
Nashville equalized in the 73rd minute when midfielder Brian Hinkey crossed a ball from the right side to the front of the goal. Richmond keeper Mike McGinty came out to break up the play, but the ball went over his head to forward and Metros scoring leader Jakob Fenger, who then headed it in at the far post for a 1-1 deadlock.
The ensuing kickoff proved costly to Nashville's chances of winning the game, however. Officials said Fenger and Kickers midfielder Michael Burke engaged with Burke apparently using his hands in the struggle for control of the ball. Fenger then allegedly grabbed Burke and threw him to the turf. Officials said Burke got up and hit Fenger in the head. Both weresummarily ejected. As players from both teams joined the confrontation, Nashville captain Steve Kraemer allegedly bumped referee Mike Stutt while arguing about Fenger's ejection and was also shown the red card.
"It was one of those unfortunate things. The referee felt he saw Jakob hit (Burke) ... and then when Steve and the other players came in, he felt that Steve bumped him in retaliation," Mosen said. "There were eight to ten players involved, but the referee gave out three red cards and no yellows. That's at the referee's discretion of course."
The two Metros ejections meant the side had to play with nine in the field instead of ten for the rest of the game. Stats for the contest were understandably one-sided because of Richmond's numerical advantage - the Metros were outshot 14-5 in the second half and 6-2 in the two 10-minute overtime periods.
"They had a few opportunities, but they hit the goalposts and crossbar quite a bit and you don't get any scores for doing that," Mosen said. "I think the character of our team showed when we went a man down, because the lads settled down, worked hard and kept Richmond from taking the win.
"Our last two games have been against the top two teams we play in the league, and we've come away with draws. While you want to win, those results are good. If someone had told me beforehand that I'd have to settle for that, I probably would have."
Midfielder Jaymi Bailey agreed. "I think we're pretty fortunate to come out of there with a draw given the situation. I think it was pretty evenly matched until we went a man down," he said. "They may have had a few more opportunities than us, but we handled it and kept them from beating us."
The team will host Indiana on Sunday in a Ezell Park match that kicks off at 5 p.m. It is likely that Fenger and Kraemer will have to sit out the game under suspension because of the red cards they received at Richmond. Three nights later, Nashville will be at Cal State-Fullerton's Titan Field for a second-round Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match against Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy that begins at 9 p.m. CDT.
"We've got a tough game against Indiana with them coming off the win against Charleston. They'll be coming into Nashville on a high with a lot of confidence," Mosen said. "We'll have to see how the suspensions and some injuries we have affect us. We'll just need to buckle down and work to get our four points.
"We look forward to the opportunity in the cup match. We've got nothing to lose. The pressure's on Los Angeles because we're not expected to win. When an A-League team plays an MLS side, it's always a nice opportunity for players to prove they can play at that level."
Metros-Galaxy on TV
The Nashville Metros will be the sole featured second-round U.S. Open Cup match on Fox Sports World when they travel to Cal State Fullerton's Titan Stadium on June 27 at 9 p.m. CDT to play Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy.
The U.S. Soccer Federation, governing body of the national soccer
championship tournament, announced that the Metros-Galaxy match will be broadcast live for the first time in U.S. Open Cup second-round history.
Local availability in Nashville will be via satellite.
Fox Sports World, which broadcast the semis and championship final last year, will add several more U.S. Open Cup matches to its television schedule in 2001, which includes the Metros-Galaxy second-round game, two quarterfinal matchups, the semifinals and finals.
The Metros game will be among 16 second-round matches being played across the nation on June 26 and 27 as the 32-team field is winnowed to 16. If the Metros can beat the Galaxy, they would play a third-round match against the winner of the game pitting MLS Dallas Burn against the Seattle Sounders Select squad from United Soccer Leagues' Premier Development League on July 11.
The Galaxy normally play MLS home matches in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, but will play the Metros in the 9,500-seat Titan Stadium