Win and advance to the quarterfinals. The one game finality is what makes tournaments like the US Open Cup exciting. The Fire will have a chance to continue onward in their quest for a 5th USOC title but first they'll need to dispatch rival Columbus in order to do so.
The Crew aren't in a good way at the moment. After a decent start to the season they've begun to tumble downward in the Eastern Conference and they're missing several key players. They managed to advance to this point in the tournament but that wasn't easy either. Columbus defeated the Dayton Dutch Lions 2-1 on an 84th minute goal by Justin Meram in order to move on but Dayton played a man down for 76 minutes. They'll be without Eddie Gaven, who is out for the season with an ACL tear, Chad Marshall, Agustin Viana (both with hamstring injuries), and Jairo Arrieta due to international duty. They've also recently missed right back Josh Williams and midfielder Danny O'Rourke due to injury.
It seems Robert Warzycha plans to use a combination of veterans and youngsters in this match. Against Dayton he fielded the same patchwork back line that also got hammered in Philadelphia 3-0 and he wasn't happy with the central midfield pairing of Tony Tchani and Matias Sanchez either. He may not have much choice but to stay with them in this game due to the absence of Marshall and Viana. If Danny O'Rourke can return from an ankle injury they'll get some help in midfield. Warzycha also has a league match to contend with this weekend while the Fire are idle.
The Fire are looking to keep the momentum of four consecutive matches without a loss including the USOC win over Charlotte two weeks ago. I'd expect Frank Klopas to field another strong eleven considering the club's next match is not until June 19 at home against Colorado.
Projected Line Ups
Lampson; Barson, Gehrig, Glauber, Wahl; Meram, Tchani, Warzycha, Speas; Higuain, Oduro
Johnson; Segares, Soumare, Berry, Anibaba; Nyarko, Larentowicz, Alex, Duka; Rolfe, Magee
Columbus is having trouble offensively with Arrieta out and their midfield in some disarray. Federico Higuain doesn't have many options with only Dominic Oduro playing ahead of him and we all know that teams are capable of shutting down Oduro if he's utilized as a lone forward.
The Fire should win this one and advance to the Quarterfinals against the winner of the Sporting KC/Orlando City game.