One of the chief questions preceding Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup matchup at TQL Stadium between FC Cincinnati and New York City FC is how each club will approach team selection.
Two weeks ago in the team’s third round 1-0 win over Louisville City SC, FCC Manager Pat Noonan made 10 changes to the team from its previous match, opting to give a number of younger and backup players important match action against USL opposition. Only defender Nick Hagglund retained his spot in the starting lineup from MLS play. A quartet of regular starters were substituted into the match during the second half which helped lead to the team’s winning goal from Arquimides Ordonez in the 85th minute. For that match, another MLS match was looming just three days later, so rotation checked all the boxes for logic and pragmatism.
But this Round of 32 encounter has a different dynamic for Noonan and the home side as FCC has a bye from league play this weekend, Could Noonan go with most or all of his first-choice XI from kickoff, or will he still opt to rotate heavily for the lower-priority competition, keeping in mind that the team is coming off a hard-fought win over DC United this past weekend?
NYCFC Manager Nick Cushing has a different paradigm as he approaches the match. The visitors will play this weekend against rival New York Red Bulls. On the surface, it might seem Cushing has more incentive to rotate his starting lineup. This is NYCFC’s opening match in the competition due to receiving a bye, so we don’t have a pattern to observe.
The visitors lost last weekend to Charlotte by a 3-2 margin following a 74th-minute own goal from new signing Richie Ledezma. Three players have started all NYCFC league games this season, including goalkeeper Luis Barraza, midfielder Keaton Parks and defender Thiago Martins. Starting 10 of the 11 games thus far for New York have been forward Talles Magno, defender Braian Cufre and defensive midfielder James Sands. All in all, 20 players have seen game time for NYCFC this season.
For FCC, starters in the third-round win included Ordonez, Dominque Badji, Malik Pinto, Marco Angulo, Joey Akpunonu, Ian Murphy, Isaiah Foster, Stiven Jimenez and goalkeeper Alec Kann. Wednesday night we find out whether Noonan goes this route again, or plays a more experienced lineup of players such as Lucho Acosta, Matt Miazga, Obi Nwobodo, Junior Moreno, Brandon Vazquez and Alvaro Barreal.
United States Open Cup, Round of 32 Match
FC Cincinnati vs. New York City FC
7 p.m. Wednesday, May 10, TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, OH.
National Video Stream: CBS Sports Golazo Network (available for Free).