D.C. United kicks off their next US Open Cup match in less than an hour, and we talked to Jake Catanese of The Bent Musket to preview the game.
How is Jay Heaps going to change his lineup for the Open Cup?
Jeez, where do we begin here. The Revs are going to be without at least three international players, Juan Agudelo and Kelyn Rowe with the United States and Gershon Koffie with Ghana. At some point Je-Vaughn Watson is leaving with Jamaica but since they don't have any pre-Gold Cup friendlies his exact departure date is unclear. On top of those absences, the Revs are still down midfielders Xavier Kouassi after he suffered a leg injury against NYC and Scott Caldwell who is in the concussion protocol last weekend. Defender Antonio Delamea left the game in Toronto with a suspected broken nose and his availability is uncertain.
All that being said, the Revs are probably throwing out the "B" team later on today but there will still be a few well-known guys in the lineup. Teal Bunbury will probably start at striker or wide midfielder and it wouldn't shock me to see Andrew Farrell at right back as he started against Rochester last round. Brian Wright and Femi Hollinger-Janzen will probably both get looks up top if Heaps decides to go with a two-striker formation.
Who needs to step up with Juan Agudelo at the Gold Cup?
Well for starters Kei Kamara since that's probably where the bulk of the minutes will end up. Kei has been starting the past few weeks anyway as Juan was working back to full fitness, so the Revs lineup won't change much. However, the production from the true attacking group has been lacking in recent weeks, with defenders and the holding mids picking up the slack.
Teal Bunbury also has a huge chance to grab some minutes, even if it's not at striker. Teal is a curious case, because he's still a solid player but his old target winger role doesn't exist in with the diamond midfield so he's had to adjust to being either a true striker or a shuttling midfielder who can drift wide. The two younger strikers, Wright and Femi, could also be in line for some sub minutes off the bench. But collectively, the Revs are a team that scores by committee so losing Juan for a few weeks up top won't be the end of the world, but Rowe is also a guy who creates a lot as well. We'll see how it goes.
How solid is the Cody Cropper goalkeeping situation?
I have always been a fan of Cropper going back to his U23 Olympic days with the USYNT. I think he's done a solid job for the Revs this year but you can still tell that Cropper and the backline are still building chemistry back there. One of the biggest differences between Cropper and previous starter Bobby Shuttleworth was decision-making. Cropper is very aggressive in coming off his line and occasionally this back fires, but you can respect Cropper for trying to do what he can. I think Cropper is a solid shot-stopper who has just needed regular minutes after seeing only minimal action in the English Championship with MK Dons.
It will probably be backup keeper Brad Knighton on cup duty tonight, possibly with third stringer and Richmond Kicker regular Matt Turner on the bench for New England. Knighton is the perfect backup and while a few people might've thought there was going to be a true keeper competition between Cropper, Knighton and Shuttleworth back in preseason, it's been Cropper's job from the start and I think that was the right decision.
Line-ups prediction etcetera
Formation: 4-4-2 Diamond
Lineup: Knighton; D. Smith, J. Smith, Woodberry, Farrell; Watson, Herivaux, Fagundez, Bunbury; Wright, Femi
Bench: Turner, Tierney, Angoua, Kobayashi, Koffie, Nguyen, Kamara
I'm going to borrow this from our lineup predictions post, Seth and Nick also posted theirs so you can check out all three. I think the formation will be far more important than the personnel. I think the Revs should stick with the diamond that's been reasonably successful but the injuries/absences could cause Heaps to do something slightly different.
I'm gonna make Brad Knighton the hero in this one, it's a short-handed Revs team that wins this one in PKs.