Fusion Down MetroStars 3-2 on the Road to Advance to Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (Tuesday, September 12, 2000) - The Miami Fusion advanced to their first U.S. Open Cup Final with a thrilling 3-2 victory over the NY/NJ MetroStars at Mitchel Stadium in Uniondale, N.Y. on Tuesday evening. Second-half substitute Welton sparked the Fusion, who just missed out on the MLS Cup playoffs over the weekend, but are now poised to take home their first U.S. championship when they battle the Chicago Fire in the 2000 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final on Oct. 21 at Soldier Field in Chicago.
After coming on as a substitute 10 minutes into the second half, Welton's first touch of the match put the Fusion ahead to stay with a right-footed side volley that beat Metros' goalkeeper Paul Grafer to the lower left corner of the goal. High-scoring Fusion forward Diego Serna, who had an MLS-high three hat tricks during the 2000 season, assisted Welton on the goal with a soft chip across the top of the penalty area.
Just a minute later, the two forwards combined again, this time Welton carrying the defense with him on a dribbling run down the right wing, and then sliding a perfect pass to an unmarked Serna at the top of the penalty area who easily beat a sprawling Grafer in the 63rd minute. The goal put the Fusion up 3-1 and the game out of reach.
A late goal by the Metros' Adolfo Valencia in the 84th minute set up some tense moments for Miami as the game wound down, but the white-clad Fusion were able to protect the lead and advance to the final in front of a nationwide audience on Fox Sports World and Fox Sports World Espanol.
The two sides traded goals in the first half, with Andy Williams hitting a brilliant strike from 28 yards that beat Grafer to the lower left corner in the 11th minute. The goal came after Williams brilliantly dribbled through no less than four MetroStars to unleash his looping, but direct, shot past Grafer.
The Metros tied the match in the 39th minute on some nice combination play that began with Valencia winning a ball in midfield and playing it wide to the left wing for Alexander Comas, who sailed a cross back to the center of the field and Tab Ramos about 30 yards from goal. With expert skill, Ramos controlled the ball and then quickly pushed it forward through the heart of the Fusion defense to Billy Walsh entering the right side of the penalty area. With one touch, Walsh cracked a shot home from 15 yards into the upper right corner of the goal past Nick Rimando.