Match Preview: Atlanta United at Columbus Crew

The Fifth Round of the U.S. Open Cup pits Atlanta United against Eastern Conference foes Columbus Crew. Both teams needed second-half surges to get past plucky second-division sides last week, but with silverware just a few wins away, both will be pushing for a victory to survive and advance to the quarterfinals in the oldest cup competition in the United States.

It all kicks off at 7:00 p.m. ET from MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Click here for more information on how to tune in.

Atlanta United (1-0-0)

With the Charleston Battery in the rearview mirror, it’s all eyes forward for the Five Stripes, who now find themselves in the final sixteen teams for a chance at their second piece of silverware in two years.

The team will be without Josef Martinez, who is off representing his home country of Venezuela against the cream of the crop in South America at this summer’s Copa America tournament. But the good news for United fans is Ezequiel Barco is back with the team after capturing the headlines as one of the most impressive players at this summer’s U-20 World Cup. Last week saw Frank de Boer shuffle his pack, with Romario Williams leading the line in front of Andrew Carleton, with the second half substitutions of Justin Meram and Brandon Vazquez proving to be game-changers and match-winners. Will head coach Frank de Boer line  up with the same starters, or will he give the players who came on as substitutes a chance to prove themselves in the starting lineup? And will Barco be brought straight into the starting lineup, or will he be brought in as another impact option off the bench?

Meanwhile, it’s a full compliment in the back line at De Boer’s disposal, outside of George Bello who is still on the comeback trail from his groin injury. Jeff Larentowicz and Darlington Nagbe protected the back line from the middle of the park last week, while Eric Remedi is fit for selection as well after coming off the bench against Charleston. And De Boer opted for Brek Shea and Franco Escobar lining up outside of Miles Robinson and Florentin Pogba in the middle last time out –– but Leandro González Pirez and Michael Parkhurst are fit and ready to step right into the lineup as well. Atlanta United has won four out of the five regular-season match against the Crew in their history so far –– but the 17s need no reminder how the match ended the last time these two met in knockout play. They’ll be hoping for a little revenge back on Columbus’ home pitch this week.

Columbus Crew (1-0-0)

The Crew needed a second-half goal from David Accam to get past USL side Pittsburgh Riverhounds last week, grinding out a 1-0 win at MAPFRE Stadium. The Crew are in a tough run of form with just one league win since the beginning of April, and they will be missing some key names due to international competition themselves with Gyasi Zardes and Wil Trapp both off representing the U.S. at the Gold Cup and center back Jonathan Mensah on international duty as well. But this is still a skillful side with an experienced MLS manager, and will certainly not go out without a fight.

Zardes’ absence last week meant a start for Patrick Mullins, an MLS veteran whose productive career shows he is ready to contribute at a first-team level. Last week he was joined by regular starters in Pedro Santos, Brazilian winger Robinho and David Accam –– who scored the game-winner and the first goal of his Crew career in the fourth round –– in a free-flowing, quick-footed attack. It’s a forward line that would fit right in starting any MLS game, so the Five Stripes will have to be at their best to keep them out for a crucial road clean sheet.

While Trapp’s leadership as the team captain will be difficult to replace, the man taking his spot in the lineup is another very capable MLS veteran in former Portland Timbers midfielder David Guzman. Last round, the Costa Rican international filled out a strong midfield partnership with Brazilian central midfielder Artur, one of the best two-way midfielders in Major League Soccer. Against Pittsburgh, the Crew opted for Pedro Santos in a more central attacking midfield role, but with the reigning champions in town, Crew coach Caleb Porter may push Santos forward and opt for a more compact midfield with the addition of another MLS veteran –– and Atlanta native –– in Ricardo Clark. However he lines up his team, Porter has plenty of dangerous options that will give the Five Stripes a challenge from the opening whistle.

It’s another chance for silverware and the excitement of knockout club soccer –– so it’s one you won’t want to miss. Tune at 7:00 p.m. ET Tuesday on ESPN+ to catch all the action.