Match: Penn FC at FC Motown
Date: Wednesday, May 16th
Time: 7 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Central, 4 p.m. Pacific, 11 p.m. UTC
Venue: Ranger Field (Drew University. Madison, NJ)
How to Watch: Stream not yet available (follow @usopencup on Twitter for updates)
How FC Motown will look: While they’re considered an amateur side, you can’t overlook the experience that FC Motown has. For starters, there’s Dilly Duka who spent ten years in MLS with teams like the Columbus Crew, Chicago Fire, Montreal Impact, and New York Red Bulls. He was responsible for both of FC Motown’s goals in their last Open Cup match against New York Red Bulls U-23s. He’s joined by his former Columbus Crew teammate Julius James who anchors the defense.
And be on the lookout for former City Islander Mike Olla. He moved to FC Motown in 2018 after making 12 appearances for Harrisburg in 2017.
How Penn FC will look: Penn FC finally got a little time off after they played three matches in six days last week. They’ve been off since last Wednesday, and they don’t have any matches scheduled for this weekend either. So they have a lot of flexibility with their roster for Wednesday’s match.
Expect them to go with most of their first choice defenders as a security measure. Dilly Duka proved last week that he can still score, even against a younger side. Although they may work in someone new on the right side as both Jake Bond and Haruna Shaibu have taken a few bumps recently.
There will probably be some changes in the midfield as several depth players like Saalih Muhammad and Jorge Rivera continue to push for more playing time. But some of the big offensive weapons like Tommy Heinemann might be kept on the bench in case the game is still close late.
What to expect: FC Motown was surprised at first by the speed of their last opponent, but it’s not likely that Penn FC will be able to match that. Certain players like Freddie Opoku have shown bursts of speed, but nothing like the team had with players like Cardel Benbow in recent seasons. Instead, they may have to focus on controlling possession and accurate passing to find opportunities to work the ball into the offensive third.
The problem with that is that if the game is still tied up into the second half, FC Motown will be able to load up the box and shut Penn FC down. After all, this is an offense that has only scored six times in nine matches. So much like during the Tampa Bay Rowdies match, Penn FC will want to fire off plenty of shots early on. An amateur side like FC Motown might concede a lot of fouls, and that could give a set piece specialist like Jerry Ortiz some dangerous free kick opportunities.
Since Penn FC will be making changes to their starting lineup again, pay attention to any new faces who make a big impact during the match. With the struggles that Penn FC has had early in the season, if someone were to come in and make some spectacular goals or assists, they’ll be in line for more USL playing time in the near future. There’s several areas of the field where they’re still waiting to see who will really step up in 2018.
For FC Motown to get the upset, they’ll want to follow North Carolina FC’s playbook from earlier in the season. Play fast and loose early and use some speed to try and score a quick goal. But don’t let up from there. Protecting a one goal lead is a weak move, especially in the US Open Cup. They’ll need to try and put in another while the defense is scratching their heads. They shouldn’t park the bus without a two or three goal advantage.
PREDICTION: I think the Penn FC defense will be able to hold out and keep a clean sheet against FC Motown. I think they’ll take this one by a 2-0 scoreline.