Friday, May 4, 2012

4 May 1996 - Tampa Bay Was Generous To A Fault

On 4 May 1996, the New York/New Jersey MetroStars got their first win, beating the Tampa Bay Mutiny in a shootout.

Playing in the inaugural MLS season, the MetroStars lost their first three matches before hosting Tampa Bay at Giants Stadium, where a crowd of 38,621 turned out to see the debut of new MetroStars midfielder Roberto Donadoni, who had just moved from AC Milan the previous week. They were missing first-choice keeper Tony Meola, however, who was replaced in goal by Zach Thornton.

After a scoreless first half, Tampa Bay started the second in blistering form, taking a 3-goal lead with a brace from striker Diego Viera (51', 58') and a penalty kick from midfielder Carlos Valderrama (55'). But they extended a lifeline to the MetroStars by scoring two own goals in just over one minute as Evans Wise found his own net in the 72nd minute, then Martin Vasquez did the same just 59 seconds later. MetroStars striker Giovanni Savarese completed the comeback in the 75th minute with his team's first goal of the day.

With the match level at the end of regulation, MLS rules required a shootout. Each team got five attempts, with the shooters starting 35 yards out, then having five seconds to take their shot. Ruben Hernandez and Tab Ramos scored for the MetroStars, while only Valderrama found the net for Tampa Bay, giving the hosts the victory.

Tampa Bay went on to have the league's best record at the end of the regular season, but lost to DC United in the MLS Playoffs, to end the year without an official trophy (though they did claim the fan-created Supporters' Shield).


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