D.C. United takes on the Philadelphia Union tonight in the US Open Cup, and so to preview the game we talked to Eugene Rupinski of the Brother Game to preview this matchup. For my answers to Eugene's questions, head over to Brotherly Game!
B&RU: Despite being currently out of the playoffs, the Union have been using their first choice lineup in many recent games; would you prefer the concentrate more on the Open Cup or are you fine with this strategy?
BG: Personally I'd prefer to focus on the Open Cup, as the possibility of reaching the playoffs looks grim, and I can't see this team going very deep even if they make the playoffs. That being said, the Union's roster is thin thanks to injury (Fernando Aristeguieta, Steven Vitória, Conor Casey), poor play (Ethan White), and wasted space (Rais M'Bolhi). There isn't much choice but to play the first team as often as possible.
B&RU: Nick Sakiewicz got salty on Soccer Morning with the Union fans over their protest earlier this year; what's the feeling, overall, towards Nick Sak right now?
BG: He's as beloved as ever here. Just kidding - he's up there with Phillies GM Ruben Amaro for the most disliked person in Philadelphia sports right now.
What's funny to me about all of this is that this was over and done with as far as most fans were concerned, and in fact fans were starting to at least appreciate him for bringing some new sponsors on board. For whatever reason, he felt compelled to badmouth the fans - the same ones who stood in the pouring rain on Saturday to watch the Union draw Montreal - for something that happened in April.
The club did contact us and say that his comments were for those carrying the coffin (there was a coffin with his name on it and the words "Serial franchise killer" on it in the protest), but I still feel like well enough should have been left alone by Sak.
B&RU: Jim Curtin hot-seat status?
BG: Cold. For a team as bad as the Union have been, I haven't heard anyone suggest getting rid of Jim. I think a lot of that is the realization that the club is a mess right now and that even the best manager would have a hard time being successful with the cards Jim was dealt. He's done the best he could do with what he has.
The guy isn't afraid to answer tough questions either. He's a straight-shooter who tells it like it is, and that's gained the respect and trust of a lot of people here. It'll take time to fix this landfill fire.
B&RU: Lineup and prediction?
BG: McCarthy; Fabinho - Richie Marquez - Maurice Edu - Ray Gaddis; Brian Carroll - Vincent Nogueira; Andrew Wenger - Cristian Maidana - Eric Ayuk; CJ Sapong
This is going to be another slugfest in the rain. I see this one going to penalties, with the Union coming out on top.