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Let’s make a lineup: U.S. Open Cup edition

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Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin has players away on international duty and is limited to only five internationals for Wednesday’s Open Cup fourth round match in Washington D.C.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Philadelphia Union Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

This Wednesday, the Philadelphia Union will travel down to Audi Field to take on DC United in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round (7 p.m. ET | ESPN+).

As many Union fans painfully know, the Union go pretty far in the Open Cup most seasons, having made and lost the final three times. Typically, the Union play a USL team in the fourth round like the Richmond Kickers (2018), the Harrisburg City Islanders (2017, 2016, 2014) or the Rochester Rhinos (2015).

In fact, the last time the Union played an MLS team in the fourth round it was in 2013 against D.C. United (they entered the tournament in the third round and beat Ocean City Nor’easters). Dwayne De Rosario scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 win in front of 3,000 fans against Jack Mac and the Union.

Due to the strength of D.C., and the low amount of players available for the Union, there is a real possibility the blue and gold could be eliminated this week.

Per U.S. Open Cup rules, teams may only have 5 “foreign players” on their 18-man roster for games. According to the USSF, a foreign player is considered someone who is not a citizen of the United States or does not have a green card. So players such as Ilsinho and Fabinho would still not be considered a foreign player. So who are considered “foreign players” for the Union this week? Let’s take a Look.

Not a Foreign Player:
Anthony Fontana CM (United States) - Citizen
Ray Gaddis RB (United States) - Citizen
Matt Real LB (United States) - Citizen
Mark McKenzie CB (United States) - Citizen
Fafa Picault ST (United States/Haiti) - Dual Citizen
Alejandro Bedoya CM (United States/Colombia) - Dual Citizen
Matt Freese GK (United States/Germany) - Dual Citizen
Ilsinho CAM (Brazil) - Green Card
Fabinho LB (Brazil) - Green Card
Aurelien Collin CB (France) - Green Card

Considered a Foreign Player:
Jack Elliott CB (England)
Haris Medunjanin CDM (Bosnia-Herzegovina/Netherlands)
Jamiro Monteiro CM (Cape Verde/Netherlands)
Kai Wagner LB (Germany)
Kacper Pryzbylko ST (Poland/Germany)
Sergio Santos ST (Brazil)
Carlos Miguel Coronel GK (Brazil)
Olivier Mbaizo RB (Cameroon)
Michee Ngalina ST (DR Congo)

Unavailable/Questionable Players:
Brenden Aaronson CAM (United States U23s)
Auston Trusty CB (United States U23s)
Warren Creavalle CDM (Guyana, Gold Cup)
Cory Burke ST (Visa)
Marco Fabian CAM (INJ)
Andre Blake GK* (Jamaica, Gold Cup)

Brenden Aaronson and Auston Trusty were called up to the U23 Olympic Camp this week in Utah and won’t be able to play, which is a huge blow. Of course Cory Burke won’t be available due to his visa issues, and Marco Fabian is apparently still injured. Even if he was healthy, he would count as a foreign player.

And then there is Andre Blake. After the Red Bulls game, Jim Curtin was asked if Blake would be available against D.C. Jamaica play their first game in the Concacaf Gold Cup five days after the open cup game on June 17 in Kingston, Jamaica. He said, “He (Blake) has obligations with Jamaica, We’ll talk with them and see.” If Blake was allowed to leave camp he would not count as a foreign player, which is a huge deal.

Even though the Union could possibly only have 16 eligible players, the Union can loan players from Bethlehem Steel FC for a game to fill out the bench.

So who should the Union pick as their five Foreign players? Here’s who I went with:

Jamiro Monteiro & Haris Medunjanin CM
With Aaronson and Fabian not available, and the two being very important to the Union’s success this season, I am going to guarantee these two will be in the squad.

Jack Elliott CB
With Trusty gone, and Jack will also very likely make the trip. It’s more of a question who will start next to him, McKenzie who just got back from Poland a few days ago or MLS veteran Aurélien Collin.

Kai Wagner LB
This is where it gets tough. Do you bring Kai, or do you bring a backup striker and start Fabinho?

Kacper Pryzbylko ST
It’s really a toss up between Kacper and Sergio, I picked Kacper just because I think he’d work better up top with Fafa, but i’d be fine with either.

Who I decided not to Bring:

Sergio Santos ST
Again, I couldn’t really decide between him and Kacper. But if you don’t bring Kai and start Fabinho you could put him on the bench?

Carlos Miguel Coronel GK
As much as it would stink to use a spot on a backup goalie, the Union might have to. If Blake can’t make it to the game, we’re going to need a backup goalie. Bethlehem doesn’t have any goalkeepers on their roster that they can loan us. Although, the Union could maybe bring academy goalkeeper Tomas Romero if it’s allowed. But i’m pretty sure it’s not.

Olivier Mbaizo RB & Michee Ngalina ST
We’re obviously not going to use a spot on either of them.

Here is how my lineup would look:

With Blake

Bench: Freese, Collin, Fabinho, Real, llsinho, Rayyan**, Zandi**

Without Blake

Bench: Freese, Collin, Real, Ilsinho, Rayyan**, Zach Zandi**, Shanyder Borgelin**

Basically, If Andre Blake can make the game on Wednesday, the Union will not only get his amazing goalkeeping skills, they will also be able to use a “foreign player” spot on someone like Kai Wagner instead of Coronel.

* Foreign player
** Bethlehem Steel contracted player. Would have to be loaned up on a short-term deal (permitted by MLS for friendlies and Open Cup matches) to the first team.

Thoughts? Who would you bring if you were Curtin?