Saturday, April 20, 2013

20 April 1996 - The MetroStars Fall

On 20 April 1996, the NY/NJ MetroStars lost their MLS home opener when they conceded an own goal with just thirteen seconds left.

Based in Giants Stadium, the MetroStars were the informal successor to the Cosmos and, as such, carried high expectations. With stars such as midfielder Tab Ramos and goalkeeper Tony Meola, most observers tipped the MetroStars to challenge for the league title in that first season. But an opening-day away loss at Los Angeles dampened some of that enthusiasm.

They returned to Giants stadium for their home opener, with a crowd of almost 47,000 turning out to see them take on the New England Revolution. The teams battled to a scoreless standstill for most of the match, which, under the rules at the time, would have sent them into a shootout. But just moments from the end of regulation, New England's Darren Sawatzky sent in a shot that Meola parried into the path of MetroStars defender Nicola Caricola. Caricola tried to clear it, but succeeded only in floating it over Meola's head and into the goal, gifting New England the 0-1 win.

The MetroStars went on to finish the season with a record of fifteen wins (three of which were shootout wins, worth only a single point) and seventeen losses. That was still enough to qualify them for the MLS Cup, but they lost in the first round to eventual champions DC United.

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