Richmond Kickers defeated the Dutch Lions 4-1 in the U.S. Open Cup first round (above) and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds by a 4-1 scoreline, as well, in the second round to get to tonight's third round showdown (picture by Jacq Roos).
The Richmond Kickers had a rather pedestrian route to the 3rd round of tonight's U.S. Open Cup matchup against the Columbus Crew. The Kickers destroyed both the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (in the 2nd round) and the Dayton Dutch Lions (in the first round) by 4-1 scores to set themselves up with another U.S. Open Cup matchup against the Columbus Crew tonight.
The Kickers overall 8-2 route should give them momentum coming into this third round, but both results were against USL-Pro bottom feeders; as the Kickers have 24 points on the USL campaign compared to the Riverhounds 12 and the Dutch Lions 5 points. Further, the Dutch Lions (which could go with the nickname "USL-Pro Whipping Boys") have just one win in twelve games on the season. In contrast, the Kickers will find it much harder to duplicate a similiar result against another Ohio foe, as the Crew are on a good run of form in a superior league.
Richmond hasn't had much success against the Columbus Crew in U.S. Open Cup history either. The Crew started out their championship winning Open Cup campaign in 2002 by defeating Richmond 3-nil. Also, in the Crew's U.S. Open Cup run last season to the final against Seattle, the Crew dispatched two USL opponents (similiar to Richmond's ability) with ease, with a team full of reserves.
In similiarity, tonight is expected to be a team full of reserves. As the Crew are expected to trot out a lineup of:
Veeder, Gehrig, Burns, O'Rourke
Rogers, Grossman, Rusmir, Meram
The lineup should be capable enough as O'Rourke is a starter when he is healthy; Rogers was a starter until he fell out of favor as of late; Cunningham is still capable; and Rusmir, Meram, and Grossman have seen starting time.
This makeshift lineup will compete with one of the more talented teams in the USL. To be successful, the Crew will have to shutdown Richmond's player to watch out for, Matthew Delicate, who has 7 goals and 3 assists for the Kickers in 12 games this season.
Another name looking to make an impact is a familiar one in Stanley Nyazamba (2 goals and 2 assists in 2011 for the Kickers). Nyazamba was a member of the Crew in 2008 and 2009, but had problems off the field during his time in Columbus and never saw a minute of starting time at Crew Stadium. Nyazamba will finally see the field today and he will likely have a score to settle.
Expected scoreline: 2-nil Crew, goals by Meram and Cunningham