Two months after he returned from extended leave with his Madagascar national team where they reached the quarter-final stage of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt , Minnesota United’s starting right back is back.
Romain Metanire was Sunday, in an important 3-1 victory over Real Salt Lake at Allianz Field.
He didn’t play for United from June 2 until July 20 while he led Madagascar to the African Cup of Nations quarterfinals. Even upon his return, he wasn’t the same force he had been. That is until Sunday, when he made the hustle play that saved the ball along the sideline and created Darwin Quintero’s eventual winning goal early in the second half. Then he sent the crossing pass that Ethan Finlay converted for an insurance goal in the 83rd minute.
United coach Adrian Heath said Metanire returned in July “extremely tired, not only physically but mentally.”
“It was an incredible run for the country,” Heath said. “I’m sure it took its toll. When he’s back to his best, like he was today, he’s something to play against.”
Teammate and fellow defender Ike Opara said “it has been awhile” since Metanire played a game like that.
“Romain really changed the game, just with pure willingness and hustle and desire,” Opara said. “You can’t teach that. It won’t show up in the boxscore. But that was unbelievable.”