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Massive Predictions: Tampa Bay Rowdies at Columbus Crew SC - U.S. Open Cup Edition

The Open Cup is unpredictable, but we will do our best.

On Wednesday night, Columbus Crew SC enters the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in the fourth round. The Black & Gold will take on NASL side the Tampa Bay Rowdies. It will be the first match in two weeks for Columbus, as the players have enjoyed an international break during the group stage of the Copa America. The Rowdies meanwhile just played last Saturday, a 1-1 draw with Jacksonville Armada FC.

As Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter said this week, this is a major opportunity for the lower division team to get one over on its Major League Soccer opponent. There will be plenty of motivation for the Rowdies, who feature several former MLS players, to come to Columbus and get a victory.

Despite playing a perceived inferior opponent, there is still quite a bit to play for for Crew SC. With depleted options and a league game coming up on Saturday against the Montreal Impact, several players who haven't seen many competitive minutes this year will get a shot. This is those players’ chance to show the staff and the fans what they can do in matches that matter.

So what does our staff think of this game? Will Berhalter’s lineup be enough to overcome Tampa Bay or will it be another early exit from the Open Cup for the Black & Gold?

Sam Fahmi

Columbus Crew SC will either come out SUPER hot or SUPER cold. They will either scores A LOT of goal or maybe just one. They will either win or lose this game. What I'm trying to say is, that there will be no happy medium.
Columbus Crew SC 3  Tampa Bay Rowdies 1

Kris Landis

This is a Crew SC team with lots of questions and few answers. Who will play? We don't know. But it's not unreasonable to expect the Black & Gold to come out on top against the visiting NASL side, regardless of lineup. While the Rowdies have some familiar names (Feddy Adu, Joe Cole), the Crew SHOULD have enough to take the win. The only doubt I have is motivation. Will the coaches and players truly be taking the USOC seriously? If not there could be an upset. We will see for ourselves Wednesday, but I'm hoping not.
Columbus Crew SC 2  Tampa Bay Rowdies 1

Josh Mlot

From the admittedly very little I've seen of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, it looks like Joe Cole has been able to make an impact on the team, and Tampa Bay likes to push the ball wide and attack that way. It seems like a solid NASL side. The Rowdies have a nice situation in that they'll have some game sharpness but have a full two weeks to rest before their next game. On the flip side, Columbus hasn't played in a couple of weeks and has to consider it has an MLS game on Saturday. I know the club has given lip service to "taking the Open Cup seriously," but Gregg Berhalter's recent statements showed he's loathe to commit to actually putting out as close to a full-strength squad as possible. I'd expect to see a noticeable injection of young guys and guys who aren't regularly playing (we can talk later about how serious that approach to the Open Cup is). The bottom line is that any sort of expected Crew SC lineup should be able to win this game, but it will have to perform well to be able to do it. There are so many question marks about Columbus both in performance this season and personnel options, but I'll give it the edge as the bigger club playing at home (kind of).
Columbus Crew SC 2  Tampa Bay Rowdies 1

Patrick Murphy

You don't have to believe that Gregg Berhalter and the Crew SC staff take this tournament seriously if you choose not to, but you should know what a lot of these players think. For many of the guys who aren’t in the typical starting 11, this is not only a chance to get game minutes on Wednesday, but also help to open possible more playing time by advancing.

Tampa Bay isn't a bad side, finishing just two points back of the winners of the NASL spring season. There will be some names fan recognize, but there’s a reason these players are not in MLS. It will be a makeshift lineup for Columbus with only 16 players available, but it will be enough to get it done.
Columbus Crew SC 3   Tampa Bay Rowdies 2

Patrick Guldan

Crew SC are short handed and looking past this game to the league match against Montreal on Saturday. Tampa will be focused on making a statement. A perfect recipe for a cupset.

Despite being shorthanded, Crew SC has plenty of talent to win. Ethan Finlay has struggled in 2016, but is a game-changing player. Ola Kamara has four goals in a month. Some players will be looking to make a statement, Emil Larsen is scrapping for minutes, this is his chance. On defense, it will be a makeshift lineup with the possibility of a deputized center back beside Michael Parkhurst, but the prospect of Tony Tchani returning gives the midfield more bite.

Either way, it will be a close game, but Crew SC has the benefit of rest and home field advantage. They'll scrape by with a close win and with the team's luck of late in extra time just to exacerbate the problems with the short roster.
Columbus Crew SC 2  Tampa Bay Rowdies 1

Matt Weisgarber

I'll start caring about the Open Cup when Gregg does. Actually that's not true. I care about it. It's a trophy, we may as well go out and win it. A strong Cup run could ease some tension amongst the fans, so it could be a strategic move to put out a team that can win tonight. I don't think we'll see a competitive team, but Tampa Bay aren't a competitive team either. So I imagine this will be close with the more experienced team winning out.
Columbus Crew SC 1  Tampa Bay Rowdies 0