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Monday, March 23, 2002 Soccer News, Reports, Interviews href="">
 UNITED STATES SOCCER - MLS, National Teams, College, World Cup, Plus! Americans Abroad
NY/NJ MetroStars

by Ken Press

With wind gusts of 25 MPH making the temperature fell like 34 degrees, it took the NY/NJ MetroStars 53 minutes to warm up in their home opener against the New England Revolution.

Former Fusion player Diego Serna - one of 10 players to make his debut with a new club - brought some heat from Miami as he assisted on goals by Brazilian Rodrigo Faria and US National Team midfielder Clint Mathis in the home sides 3-1 win in front of 13,234 cold fans at Giants Stadium.

"This group," Metros coach Octavio Zambrano said about his front 3, "will get a better understanding together and do great."

Zambrano enjoyed the first outing, and said he expects even more of his three attackers this season. "Itís our first match. Itís difficult to put it all together," he said. "Itís a good test to face a worthy opponent like New England.  We were more concentrated in what we had to do to win."

"The first win is always important," Zambrano added. "It makes you think of bigger and better things right away, but weíre not there yet. We wonít be into our form until 3 or 4 games."

That form may take even longer, as Mathis is leaving Sunday for a World Cup friendly in Germany, and is expected to win an all-expenses-paid trip to South Korea with the national team in May and June.

Zambrano will look to Tab Ramos and Marcel Balboa to fill the Mathis gap. The pair of former national team players stayed warm warming the bench against the Revs, but Coach Zambrano indicated they may get some quality pitch-time soon.

"Tab more likely will get back into the flow," Zambrano said. "With Clint leaving [for Germany tomorrow], it creates a good spot to fill. Itís really a luxury to have Tab on the bench."

Regarding Balboa, Zambrano hopes the attacking defender will play later in the season. "We will have Marcello for matches down the line. I need to talk to his doctor (for an update)."

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