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MetroStars Win Copa Merconorte Opener

East Rutherford, NJ  August-8- 2001 -  In their opening match in the 2001 Copa Merconorte, the MetroStars defeated Deportivo Italchacao of Venezuela, 2-0, Wednesday night at Giants Stadium on the strength of two first-half goals from Adolfo Valencia and defender Mike Petke.

The Group B match of the 16-team tournament marked the MetroStars' debut in an international competition.

"This is an honor to be playing in the Copa Merconorte," said MetroStars Head Coach Octavio Zambrano. "Soccer teams all over the world play in league and international competitions at the same time. I was happy with the win, but I really thought we could play better tonight. We had some better chances that we did not finish."

The MetroStars dominated the opening half and penetrated the Italchacao defense on many occasions, especially through midfielder Mark Chung on the left flank. It was Chung who hit the left post in the eighth minute and took the shot that led to Colombian forward Valencia's goal in the 23rd minute. Chung's left-footed shot from inside the box was parried away by goalkeeper Jose Fasciana but the ball fell to an onrushing Valencia, who poked the ball into the back of the net from 10 yards out.

The MetroStars continued pushing forward, and Chung hit the right post on a diagonal shot from the left side of the box in the 31st minute. The MetroStars defense would also prove to be solid as Deportivo would only get one shot on goal in the first half, on a 38th minute long distance shot from Rafael Castellin.

In first half injury time, the MetroStars would get the insurance goal they needed to seal the match when Martin Klinger earned a free kick from 25 yards away on the left flank. Captain Daniel Hernandez sent a right-footed cross which Petke, left unmarked in the center of the box, nailed into the back of the net with a powerful header.

Deportivo would make a valiant attempt to push forward in the second half, but the MetroStars were compact and absorbed every attack. The closest the Venezuelan side came to scoring was an 83rd minute shot from Andre Luis Gomes which clanked off the left post.

"To be honest tonight felt like any other game for me," said Petke. "It's nice to win the first game and get off to a good start in this competition. We now need to turn our attention to Dallas as the (Major League Soccer) playoff race begins to heat up."

The next MLS match for the MetroStars is set for Saturday, Aug. 11 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, when the defending Eastern Division champions take on the Dallas Burn (8:30 p.m. ET). The MetroStars' second match in the Copa Merconorte comes on Wednesday, August 29, when the team travels to Bogota, Colombia to take on powerhouse Millonarios.

1 2 F



Scoring Summary:

MET--Valencia (Chung, Klinger M.) 23

MET--Petke (Hernandez) 47+

DEPORTIVO ITALCHACAO--Jose Fasciana, Luis Vallenilla Pacheco, Gregory Luzardo, Daniel Diez, Cesar Modesto Gonzalez, Arsenio Santeugini (Giovanny Perez 46),

Claudio Silva, Leopoldo Jimenez (Hector Bidoglio 65), Andre Luis Gomes, Edgardo Dario Parisi (Felix Hernandez 46), Rafael Casstellin, TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Gomes 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Gomes 1, Casstellin 1); FOULS: 15 (Silva 5); OFFSIDE: 3; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: Fasciana 5; CAUTIONS: Silva 14; EJECTIONS: none; POSSESSION PERCENTAGE: 0%

METROSTARS--Tim Howard, Mike Petke (Tab Ramos 73), Steve Jolley, Orlando Perez, Pedro Alvarez, Billy Walsh (Richie Williams 54), Petter Villegas, Daniel

Hernandez, Mark Chung, Adolfo Valencia (Alex Dixon 87), Martin Klinger. TOTAL SHOTS: 21 (Chung 7); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Hernandez 2); FOULS: 23 (Alvarez


Referee: Fernando Paneso; Assistant Referees: Wilmer Barahona, Daniel Wilson; Attendance: 7,426; Weather: Humid, 91F/33c.