By Jonathan Lewis | twenty fifth Could 2023
The Columbus Crew have certainly one of their greatest matches of the season arising quickly, as they’re set to play within the US Open Cup’s Spherical of 16 on Wednesday, Could 24.
The Crew drew the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, certainly one of two USL Championship groups remaining. As such, they need to have a better time than many of the different groups as they attempt to advance… a minimum of on paper.
With an opponent from the second tier of American skilled soccer, the Crew must maintain enterprise of their match with the Hounds to keep away from turning into a punchline: because the American soccer leagues started to take their present type within the mid Nineteen Nineties, just one workforce from a degree beneath MLS managed to win the US Open Cup and enter the CONCACAF Champions League for an opportunity at one other title in doing so: the now defunct Rochester Rhinos in 1999.
The excellent news is that even supposing they’ll should go on the street to face off in opposition to the Riverhounds, in line with DraftKings Ohio, Columbus Crew has odds at -170 of advancing to the quarterfinals.
Right here’s a take a look at the matchup between the Crew and the Hounds, together with storylines to observe as Columbus tries to advance.
Columbus is firing on near all cylinders proper now, coming off a decent loss that might actually spur them to step up their degree of play: over the weekend they suffered a 3-2 loss by the hands of Cincinnati FC throughout MLS play (which has no affect on the US Open Cup proper now), who’ve run rampant via MLS this season on the way in which to a league-best 9-3-1 margin. Cincinnati leapt out to an early 2-0 lead in Columbus in that match because of a pair of targets by midfielder Luciano Acosta, however the Crew scraped their means again with two targets proper round halftime, displaying the kind of battle you need from a workforce in the course of a championship run.
Sadly for Columbus, one other Cincy objective at 67’ sank them, despite the fact that they dominated possession for 2 thirds of the sport. Over within the US Open Cup bracket, Crew cleaned up properly to advance to the Spherical of 16, obliterating Loudoun United FC of USL Championship in a dominant 5-1 displaying. Whereas they at the moment sit in the course of the pack within the Japanese Convention in MLS with a 5-5-3 document, they’ve had no bother placing groups away within the US Open Cup: their potential to flip the swap with a title hanging within the stability may do them wonders, particularly in the event that they’re in a position to take action throughout the MLS season as nicely.
The Riverhounds, like Columbus, are a plucky bunch, they usually’re getting into this matchup on a excessive notice. Whereas they struggled to place groups away earlier within the USL Championship season, they’re getting scorching on the proper time (a minimum of because it pertains to the US Open Cup), discovering their killer intuition at a time when one mistake may imply they’re going dwelling.
The Hounds knocked off New England Revolution of MLS to get thus far, occurring the street to Gillette Stadium and eking out a 1-0 win in opposition to the No. 3 workforce in MLS’ Japanese Convention as their protection restricted New England to only one shot on the right track regardless of the Revolution holding possession for greater than two thirds of the sport in a heroic efficiency.
Columbus has their work lower out for them, they usually’ll should watch out to not overlook Pittsburgh as one more chapter begins within the heated rivalry between Ohio and Metal Metropolis sports activities groups. Ought to they handle to remain on the right track, although, they’ve acquired a great opportunity of incomes a quarterfinals berth.
Jonathan Lewis is an MFF sports activities author