Predicted XI: Indy Eleven

The Columbus Crew host the USL Championship side Indy Eleven in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night. This will be the first time head coach Wilfried Nancy has competed in the Open Cup after taking part in the Canadian Championship, the Canadian equivalent, with CF Montreal the last two seasons.

In past Canadian Championship matches, Nancy started heavily rotated lineups, featuring two to three regular starters. It is likely to expect a similar philosophy with the Crew for the earlier stages of the Open Cup, although Nancy did stress the importance of winning and treating the opponent with respect this week

If is fair to expect any Black & Gold player carrying or recovering from an injury will likely not appear in this match. Forward Cucho Hernandez and goalkeeper Eloy Room, who are both likely to return from injuries soon, shouldn’t be expected to play on Wednesday. A few key players such as playmaker Lucas Zelarayan and midfielder Darlington Nagbe may make the bench in case they are needed but are unlikely to start the game.

Let’s take a look at who we believe Nancy will start against Indy Eleven: 

In goal, the Black & Gold faithful continue to see Patrick Schulte. With Schulte playing well and Room potentially returning to the starting lineup, Schulte will get the U.S. Open Cup minutes. 

The defense will be buoyed by Philip Quinton as the middle center back with defenders Jake Morris on the left and Keegan Hughes on the right. Hughes has logged one minute of play for the senior team, coming in as a late substitution against Atlanta United. Morris has not yet played for the first team but contributed regularly as a wing back or center back for Columbus Crew 2 over the last two years.

Noah Fuson will be the lone Crew 2 starter in this match at right wing back. Fuson scored double-digit goals last season with the reserve team as a forward but has transitioned into a wing back role this season. Jimmy Medranda will start as the left wing back. Medranda has yet to play a full 90 minutes for either Crew side and new signing Malte Amundsen may see minutes in the second half. 

Isaiah Parente and Sean Zawadzki will pair together in central midfield with Parente likely wearing the captain’s armband. Parente and Zawadzki led the Crew 2 to the MLS NEXT Pro championship as the midfield pair and have developed a good partnership. Both players can get into the attack, but Parente will be the more advanced of the two midfielders.

The attacking three will be forward Jacen Russell-Rowe and Max Arfsten with Alexandru Matan as the underneath attacking midfielder. Matan’s best game this season came against Atlanta when he started in this role and had three assists. Both Arfsten and Russell-Rowe have seen first-team minutes and will be hungry for more. If Nancy decides to add a veteran presence, Christian Ramirez may start over Arfsten. Crew 2 captain Marco Micaletto will likely make the bench and a substitute appearance in the Open Cup game. 

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