Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC travels west for the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup to take on MLS club Columbus Crew SC on Tuesday at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The match is set for 7 p.m. and can be streamed live on ESPN+. This marks the first official meeting between the two clubs in Open Cup play.
Bring on the MLS
While the first two matches of the U.S. Open Cup were against USL League Two and USL Championship teams, respectively, the fourth round brings a whole new element with MLS clubs now being included in the tournament mix.
The Crew have been on a spiral as of late in MLS league play, as their last win came against the LA Galaxy on May 8. In its last 10 games, Columbus has gone a combined 1-8-1 in this stretch.
Bit Off the Mark
This season, Columbus Crew SC ranks 23rd out of 24 teams in goals scored in MLS play. They currently are averaging 1.0 goals per game in league play this season. The Hounds will need to take advantage of Columbus’ struggling offense to have a solid chance this Tuesday.
When the Hounds have outshot their opponent this season, they have a combined record of 3-0-5. As the Hounds take the pitch on Tuesday night, it will be against a new face in net. Columbus’ former starting goalkeeper Zack Steffen played his final match for the Crew on June 1. He has since been sent to Fortuna Dusseldorf on loan from Manchester City. Getting shots to the net could benefit Pittsburgh this Tuesday.
Players to Watch:
The Hounds will need to be wary of Columbus midfielder Pedro Santos. Santos leads Columbus in the shot department, accumulating 36 total shots and 11 shots on goal. Santos also is tied for second in assists. Keeping these two players off the scoresheet is a must for the Riverhounds to be successful in Columbus.
Kevin Kerr is coming into his seventh season with the Riverhounds and has been through several U.S. Open Cup tournaments in the past. Although he hasn't yet played in an Open Cup match this year, Kerr could be a leader on the pitch for Hounds.
With Jordan Dover playing overseas in the Concacaf Gold Cup for the Guyana National Team, Dani Rovira or Noah Franke will be expected to start in Dover’s place for the Open Cup match.
By the Numbers: 3
The Riverhounds have never had three wins in U.S. Open Cup bracket play, losing in their third game in 2001, 2014 and 2015. The Hounds will look to finally buck this trend against the Crew.
Key to Victory: Score Early and Check the Box
When the Riverhounds have scored first, they have either won or tied eight of these nine games this season. If Pittsburgh can post an early tally, it would make it challenging for Columbus to come back from a deficit.
The Hounds have been extremely successful when their defense and goalkeeping has been on point. In games Pittsburgh has allowed one goal or less, its record is 4-0-2. If Pittsburgh can hold the Crew to their recent trend of scoring one goal per game, Tuesday could be a victorious night for the Black and Gold.