The Full 90

It's a Game Day (again): The U.S. Open Cup edition

Can the second verse be the same as the first?

Just three days after an extremely physical and chippy affair, the Wizards and Rapids will suit up in a qualifier for the U.S. Open Cup tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the UMKC campus. It should be an extremely physical and chippy affair only, with less people watching.

There will be no TV or radio. Updates will most likely come via

Hillcrest Road
Twitter

. The Full 90 will be handcuffed to a desk this evening and, thus, not in attendance.

Ch-Ch-Changes

Open Cup rules allow for only 5 international players to dress. So, with an abundance of SI's on the roster, let's speculate on the international slots first. Sunil Chhetri will start (1), Jimmy Nielsen will probably be on the bench as the back-up (2), Craig Rocastle should be in the 18 (3), if healthy Santiago Hirsig starts for Auvray (4) and Korede Aiyegbusi probably gets a start too (5). That leaves Ryan Smith and Stèphane Auvray (who will likely sit to rest minor injuries), Igor Kostrov, Birahim Diop (injured I believe) and Pablo Escobar out. (If Hirsig is still knicked, that could obviously change things. Diop or Kostrov might get slotted in.)

Now some more speculation: In the Wizards media release Monday, they called this morning's session "reserves training." That can obviously mean a lot of things. I

think

it means Peter Vermes is going to eschew the reserve/cup team philosophy against Colorado tonight and try to continue this impressive start to the season with members of his regular 18. I expect a few regular starters (Davy Arnaud, Michael Harrington, Jack Jewsbury, Matt Besler) to be joined by some key bench players (Hirsig, Aaron Hohlbein, Chance Myers) and some young talent (Teal Bunbry, Korede Aiyegbusi) in this lineup.

Vermes talked all off-season about instilling a new culture and attitude on this team. So far, it's worked. Why mess with it at this stage of the season, especially when you have 4 players (Myers, Hirisg, Bunbury, Hohlbein) sitting on the bench who could/should start for many MLS teams right now and you pride yourself on team fitness?

My Best Guess at the Formation

4-3-3: The Morphing Attack

----Bunbury--------Chhetri----------Myers----









--------------------Kronberg-------------------

The Seven Subs:

Nielsen, Leathers, Conrad, Espinoza, Rocastle, Zusi, Kamara

Keep this in mind: I have no inside information. The Wizards are being rather secretive (understandably) about player selection ahead of this game.

Player to Watch ... You Know, If You Could In Fact Watch This Game

Sunil Chhetri.

He's a big deal in his native country. The Wizards official Facebook page has more than 10,000 fans right now. A whole lot of them became fans right after the Chhetri signing was announced. (Hey, send a little of that traffic my way!) His first professional game in the states will be a huge test for the slight striker. His pace and instincts have been lauded by the team the past few weeks, but his only American experience has been against college kids. Drew Moor (if he plays) is a much stronger and more physical back than he's probably ever seen in a game.

Having said that, I think he scores. With his head.

What's At Stake?

It's too early in the season to start pining for silverware... but the loser of this game is eliminated from the U.S. Open Cup. If you fail to quality in the Cup, it will be hard for anyone to take you seriously as a title contender for a while.

Prediction

I know almost nothing about the Rapids depth. ... Pablo Mastroeni, Colin Clark, Julien Baudet and Conor Casey returned to Denver Sunday. Replacing those four guys should be tough. ... Former Wizard Claudio Lopez will factor into the game somehow, and I wouldn't be surprised if he scored. ... The Wizards are a surprisingly deep team and this could be an excellent testament to that. ... I think the pressure and quality of the Wizards should win out, but this will be a close, tight and physical game.

Wizards 2 (Chhetri, Bunbury), Rapids 1 (Lopez).
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