Let’s lay a few ground rules before we get this underway…
-The real U-23 squads in the US Open Cup (Portland, Seattle, Orlando, New York) are NOT professionals who also happen to be on the senior roster of their respective teams. I’m breaking that rule for Columbus.
-Unfortunately, there aren’t enough players 23 or younger on the Crew to fill an 18 man gameday roster.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a look at what the Crew have to work with. This exercise was inspired by the lack of creativity and ingenuity shown by Robert Warzycha, even when faced with a growing injury list.
Goalkeepers (2): Matt Lampson (23), Daniel Withrow (22)
Defenders (4): Chad Barson (22), Drew Beckie (22) , Kyle Hyland (22), Kevan George (23)
Midfielders (4): Wil Trapp (20), Shawn Sloan (22), Ben Speas (22), Ethan Finlay (22)
Forwards (3): Aaron Horton (21), Aaron Schoenfeld (23), Ryan Finley (22)
I know, I know…it’s going to be tough just to fill out a lineup. But what kind of fake coach would I be if I couldn’t mold this short handed bunch into a US Open Cup contender.
So what’s my starting formation? Have a look…
Barson – Beckie – George – Hyland
Speas – Finlay
Schoenfeld - Finley
Matt Lampson is the easiest selection here and thankfully he has a decent backup in Marshall product Daniel Withrow. Homegrown signing Chad Barson is capable of playing on the right or in the middle, but Drew Beckie and Kevan George are more physically imposing and thus better suited for the center back pairing. Kyle Hyland already has a couple assists from the left side of the backline; the senior team’s most short handed position. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to trot him out there if Agustin Viana is out long term and Tyson Wahl doesn’t improve.
We know all about each wide midfielder, but Wil Trapp and Shawn Sloan haven’t been seen as much. Trapp is an excellent tactical fit as a holding midfielder. He’s calm, cool, and collected on the ball and is a good passer out of the back. Unfortunately, he may get run over with his diminutive stature. He’s only 20 though, so maybe he can squeeze in another inch or two in height. Shawn Sloan has played all over the midfield throughout his high school/college career, but he managed to scored 58 goals and serve 40 assists in high school. He also had seven assists as a junior in college and ten in his senior year so he’s more than capable of distributing.
And thankfully, he has two very stellar forwards to whom he can distribute. Ryan Finley is a clinical finisher with his head and both feet while Aaron Schoenfeld has already shown us (in limited first team action) that he can hang with MLS defenders.
So how will this side fair in the US Open Cup?
Here’s what the bracket looks like:
So the U-23 Crew will get the winner of Dayton Dutch Lions and Dearborn Stars SC. Even though Dearborn pulled off a shocker over the USL’s Michigan Bucks, I still like Dayton Dutch Lions to win and set up the revenge match. Several guys on this squad have been on the fringe with the first team and most of the others have impressed in the Reserve League.
Crew U-23 2-1 Dayton Dutch Lions
Crew U-23 goals: Finley & Speas
On to the next one! Assuming this is the real bracket (I don’t know if the pairings are 100% accurate) the Crew U-23 team gets a date with the winner of the LA Galaxy and Carolina Dynamo/Carolina Railhawks. Even if the Galaxy take this one off, I still like them to get past the winner of the Carolina duel.
Crew U-23 1-2 LA Galaxy
Crew U-23 goal: Finley
Unfortunately this would be the worst possible draw for the Crew if it held up; especially if the U-23 squad has to go on the road to California. Even the scrubs at LA Galaxy have enough to beat this Crew U-23 side, but it would be a very close match. With a better draw this team would be more than capable of advancing to the quarterfinals over a “senior” MLS side (depending on who takes it seriously).
So even though the lads in black and yellow couldn’t break through to the quarterfinals, they’ve still shown us that Robert Warzycha has plenty of options in his back pocket that he will no doubt waste. Ryan Finley is the best (aka most MLS ready) player on this squad with Ben Speas right behind him. I really want to see what Chad Barson and Drew Beckie can do in defense. Beckie’s college highlights were solid and he showed Josh Williams-type athleticism. When Wil Trapp finally gets back from his national team duties, he’ll be well seasoned and hungry to prove himself. He’s already told his travel days off between USMNT U-20 and Crew duties to eff-off so we know he’s a hard worker.
Thoughts? Agree or disagree?