The bitter taste of last season's 2-1 defeat against the Richmond Kickers to start and finish the Crew's 2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup campaign still lingers in the mouths of many Columbus players. The Black & Gold will work hard to avoid a similar fate on Tuesday night as the club welcomes the Dayton Dutch Lions to Crew Stadium for its first Open Cup match of 2012.
"We were all really disappointed last year to lose that game," reflected Crew midfielder Cole Grossman. "I think this year everyone is a lot more focused, a lot more determined from the top-down, staff and players."
Like 2011, the Crew begins Open Cup play against a USL-Pro side in the Dutch Lions. Columbus head coach Robert Warzycha is well aware that the third-division side will travel east on I-70 looking to make history in the Capital City Tuesday night.
"I always worry about lower division teams because they have the chance to win something," Warzycha said after Monday's training session in Obetz. "Obviously, that's going to be extra motivation for (Dayton) to play harder against us."
Crew forward Aaron Horton, who spent time with Dayton on loan earlier in the season, agreed with his head coach.
"(Dayton) is a very aggressive team. That's the one thing I came away with. I expect them to come out flying. I expect them to come out and tackle hard. They're going to want to win," Horton echoed. "They're all going to want to impress. They will all want to leave their mark playing against an upper tier team."
Though Dayton is winless in league play this season, Horton admits the Dutch Lions will present a challenge for the Black & Gold.
"Their center backs are very big guys. They will definitely have an aerial threat as they have a big target forward too," Horton said. "Corners and set pieces are things we will have to look out for and watch out for."
The Crew has always taken pride in playing in the US Open Cup. After all, the competition bears the name of the club's founder, Lamar Hunt.
"It's something that's been talked about a lot in the locker room this last week or so from the coaches, (the Open Cup) means a lot to our organization," Grossman said.
"Lamar's name is on the trophy and every year nothing changes. We want to win it every year," Warzycha agreed.
Tuesday's match kicks off at 7:30 EDT at Crew Stadium.