Going into Columbus Crew SC's 2019 U.S. Open Cup match against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, midfielder David Guzman spoke on the Crew's recent performances and areas of improvement, as well as the opportunity Tuesday's Fourth Round match presents for players to gain formative match and leadership experience.
"Now that I’ve been here a little bit, I’ve been able to incorporate more into the group and if you’re asking me what we need to improve, it’s winning," Guzman said on the team's need to finish matches. "We are doing things well during the week, we are doing things well in the match but we need to win so we need to continue with that mentality and be able to get that win."
Tuesday's Fourth Round match comes against the former United Soccer League affiliate of the Crew, and provides this evolving roster with its first test following the international call-ups of Jonathan Mensah, Zack Steffen, Wil Trapp, and Gyasi Zardes.
When asked about Trapp's absence, Guzman acknowledged the leadership qualities that will be missed in the short term, but also spotlighted the greater opportunity at hand for him and the rest of the roster.
"I think Wil is a great leader – he’s respected by everyone, he plays well, you mentioned he has those leadership qualities, and now it’s the time for everybody to step up and assist," Guzman said. "If you want to become leaders, now is the time and now is the chance for other people to step up and become starters in his absence."
Guzman, a native of Costa Rica, is not a stranger to the level of competition domestic cups bring, having won the Torneo de Copa de Costa Rica – Costa Rica’s domestic cup – in 2013-14 with Deportivo Saprissa while making one start in the 2018 Open Cup with the Portland Timbers.
The 29-year-old equated the level of intensity to an international match and noted the unique characteristics domestic cup matches tend to entail.
"The tournament, especially here, is at a very high level – a better level I would say," Guzman said. "The thing with the tournament type of matches is that they are different. They are in many ways similar to international matches with the intensity that comes with them and the MLS is playing at a high-level now and is very respected, so the quality of the tournament will continue to elevate."
Keys to the Crew advancing to the Round of 16? Continuing the defensive intensity from June 1's match against New York City FC, Guzman said.
"Caleb was talking to us about how we have to be more aggressive defensively and to do a better job in marking. We did a good job in that game. When it came to that, that’s something we need to maintain in the upcoming matches, just continue to be aggressive marking and defending."
Kickoff at MAPFRE Stadium is set for 7 p.m. ET. Supporters can exclusively stream the match on ESPN+.