Columbus Crew SC hosts the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday evening. It will be the first match of the tournament for the Black & Gold, while Tampa Bay defeated FC Cincinnati 1-0 on June 1 to reach this stage.
For Columbus, it will be the first game in two weeks after the international break due to the Copa America tournament. The players were given a week off to get away from soccer, but returned last week in preparation for this match. Despite the break, the MLS side has only 16 available players and with a league match with the Montreal Impact on Saturday, the lineup could get tricky.
Tampa Bay however concluded the spring portion of the 2016 schedule last Saturday. Although the Rowdies finished fifth in the NASL standings, the club was only two points back of the table winners. With no match for a week and a half, the side should be able to put out their best players.
As is typical of some of the lower division American teams, there are some names Crew SC fans should recognize. The most notable is midfielder Joe Cole, who played seven seasons with Chelsea FC of the English Premier League. The 34-year old had one goal and three assists in five matches for Tampa Bay.
Other names of note, are Tommy Heinemann, who played 29 games for Crew SC from 2011-12. The 6-foot-4 forward finished the spring with two goals in nine appearances for the Rowdies. Georgi Hristov is another striker to keep in eye on in the match. He led Tampa Bay with three goals scored on the year. Former 14-year old D.C. United wonderkid Freddy Adu is also on the Rowdies roster, but is yet to make an appearance this season.
Here is what you need to know heading into a new tournament-style of play. Feel free to return here during the match to chat with Massive Report writers and other fans.
Keys to the Match
- Establish dominance: Crew SC are the better team on paper, but that has to show on the field. Gregg Berhalter's men need to show that from the early portions of the match.
- Find chemistry: With a mixed group of players on the field for this one, it will be important to see that chemistry that the players claim is there on the practice pitch.
- Strong defense: Brad Stuver has done well in the net when given the opportunity. It will be his job to keep things organized on the defensive side of the park, no matter who is in front of him.
How to Watch
Date/Time: June 15, 2016/7:00 p.m. EST
Venue: Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, Columbus, OH
Online: Find below