The beauty of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup isn’t the culminating moment when the winning team is crowned the American soccer national champion. It’s the early rounds of the tournament, when lower-division teams get their storybook opportunity to host an MLS club – and maybe even win.

That’s what happened Tuesday night at Keyworth Stadium for Detroit City FC. Unfortunately for the Crew, it happened to be the club on the wrong side of a “cupset.”

Despite taking a 1-0 lead seven minutes into the match, the Crew conceded an equalizer – and then a penalty of its own – to fall, 2-1, to Detroit City in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup. With the loss, the Black & Gold were eliminated from the competition and will have to wait until next year to see if they can win their first U.S. Open Cup since 2002.

Looks of frustration and disbelief filled the faces of Crew players at the final whistle. While Le Rouge celebrated alongside the noisy Northern Guard and plumes of red and yellow smoke filled the air, Columbus players could only look on.  

“It’s going to be a long trip back (to Ohio),” captain and center back Josh Williams told The Columbus Dispatch. “This one’s going to sting a little while.” 

Tuesday night marked the first time that the Crew has lost to a lower-division team since 2017. Then, Williams played, but he was in a lineup that included multiple starters. At Keyworth Stadium, he was one of the 11 changes that head coach Caleb Porter made to his starting XI – a complete overhaul from Saturday’s defeat against Orlando City SC.

By losing to Detroit, yes, the Black & Gold are out of the cup. But for the players on the field, that means the loss of an opportunity to break into the starting lineup in MLS matches. Porter has deployed the same XI in six of the team’s first seven league games. That reality certainly played into the overall frustration.

“We didn’t do our job,” midfielder Aidan Morris said. “Everybody knows that in the locker room … There’s a lot of emotions right now. The one thing I can tell you is everyone realizes that they need to do better. Us as a whole, as a team, is going to change.”

With the upset, the Crew has lost four-straight matches across all competitions. The converted penalty from Gyasi Zardes in the seventh minute snapped a three-game stretch without scoring.

Up next for Columbus is a trip to Kansas to play Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night. SKC currently sits 12th in the Western Conference with six points from eight games. The Black & Gold have eight points from seven games.

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