Welcome to another special Open Cup edition of the Six Pointer Preview – Lite version. This week we talked to Dan Crooke of the Dallas Beer Guardians (@DallasGuardians) to get the scoop on our Texas rivals as we prepare to face FC Dallas for the first time ever in a match that counts. It’s a Texas showdown, so you know it will be big.
- 1 – (RB 90) FC Dallas hasn’t played in the Open Cup yet in 2018, but they are off to a great start in MLS, currently sitting first in MLS West. Catch us up on their season so far.
(DC) The team began to settle after a few wasteful ties. The fortunes of the team have really followed the individual storylines. Mauro Diaz hasn’t been himself since tearing his Achilles tendon in 2016, but he’s shown flashes of brilliance like his three-assist game against LA Galaxy. Kellyn Acosta is just coming back from surgery in preseason where the team has missed his link play. There have been a couple of breakthrough years from young players, Reggie Cannon at right back and Jacori Hayes in the midfield. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year, and it has been a favorable schedule so far. The team are still struggling to put games away but refusing to lose with five wins and five ties from 11 games so far.
- 2 – FC Dallas won this tournament as the Burn in 1997 and again as FCD two years ago. How advantageous is that 2016 win in particular as it pertains to maybe having an extra edge in Open Cup play, and do you foresee them playing a strong squad or a second tier group?
It should be a good mix of players. I’d expect to see a few senior players who are outside of the starting XI like Ryan Hollingshead and Maynor Figueroa alongside some younger talents with USL experience such as Jordan Cano (OKC) and Brandon Servania (Tulsa). It may be Paxton Pomykal’s first taste of senior soccer since having minor knee surgery recently. Oscar Pareja doesn’t typically take the cup lightly, particularly with the FCD-owners’ father, Lamar Hunt’s, name on it. You can expect to see some starting players who haven’t been playing 90 minutes every week, like Jacori Hayes, possibly Kellyn Acosta and Cristian Colman.
- 3 – As of this writing, this team has scored 13 goals at home but only 4 away so far this season. Is it safe to say this team is challenged on the road and is that a big positive for SAFC in this matchup?
The team sets up differently on the road. Typically they play a 4-2-3-1 with Mauro Diaz and a real attacking emphasis. On the road, we’ve seen a 4-4-2 and more recently a 4-3-3 that involves three defensive midfielders. They’ve only played four games on the road, and three weren’t places you’d expect to get anything out of, but they’ve made chances and scored in each game.
- 4 – This team is led offensively by Maxi Urruti, Roland Lamah, and Mauro Diaz so far this season. Give us some background on those players, their play, and who is most likely to see time in San Antonio, if any of them?
Mauro Diaz is a typical number 10, he’s not pacy but he’ll put a ball on a dime. Lamah is possibly the most frustrating player to watch for FC Dallas fans, but he seems to pop up in the right place for a tap-in. He just doesn’t defend at all, which can overload the left side at times. Urruti is becoming one of the best all-around attackers in MLS over the past couple of years. He plays more like a false 9 and will pressure opposition midfield. Maxi will run onto long passes, or simply hold up play in the final third. His shooting was poor to start the year as he adopted that deeper role that relegated him to shots from outside the box. He’s gradually getting a better handle on that and has scored a few from outside the box lately. Maxi may get some time in the game, and I’d expect to see more of Santiago Mosquera and 2017 assists-leader Michael Barrios as the other attacking options than Diaz or Lamah.
- 5 – In net it has been mainly Jimmy Maurer who has 29 saves in 10 matches this year. Tell us about the keepers overall and any chance we see Jesse Gonzalez or Kyle Zobeck in San Antonio or is this the Maurer show?
Maurer got the start after Jesse struggled to get over an offseason knee injury and played out of his skin. A couple of mistakes against Vancouver put Jesse back in the picture and a fantastic performance in Toronto, denying what could have easily been a Giovinco hat-trick, is going to see him starting until he’s injured or makes a bad mistake. Zobeck is really just a training piece, it should be Maurer getting the start.
- 6 – What’s your prediction for the match?
FC Dallas has struggled to see off USL teams the past couple of years. We’ll take anything that’s better than the last time the two teams met in the 2014 edition. That was one of the worst games of soccer I’ve ever endured.
How They Got Here
San Antonio FC defeated Midland-Odessa 4-0 on the road in Second Round play with a flurry of late second-half goals. Scoring for San Antonio in the match were King, Lopez, Rodriguez, and Gordon.
San Antonio FC defeated USL’s Colorado Switchbacks in penalty kicks in the Third Round after they were all tied up through 120 minutes, 1-1 (5-3).
FC Dallas enters the tournament in the Fourth Round.
SAFC in the Open Cup
San Antonio FC will be playing their 8th Open Cup match this Wednesday night. The team is 5-2 all-time in Open Cup matches and will be playing their second home match in a row, after going 5 straight on the road in this tournament over the course of three seasons. San Antonio FC is 0-1 against MLS teams in the Open Cup, losing to Houston Dynamo 4-0 in 2016. This will be the first-ever meeting between San Antonio FC and FC Dallas in the Open Cup.
The Fifth Round of the US Open Cup will take place June 20th, 2018.
5/18/2016 vs San Antonio Corinthians W 3-1
6/1/2016 @ Des Moines Menace W 2-1
6/15/2016 @ Houston Dynamo L 4-0
5/17/2017 @ Houston Dutch Lions W 2-1
5/31/2017 @ Tulsa Roughnecks L 0-0 (7-6)
5/16/2018 @Midland-Odessa W 4-0
5/23/2018 vs Colorado Switchbacks W 1-1 (5-3)
The Matchup – US Open Cup Third Round
FC Dallas (MLS) @ San Antonio FC (USL)
Toyota Field, Wednesday, June 6th
Kickoff 7:30 pm Central Time
Where to Watch: ussoccer.com
Key to victory
San Antonio will no doubt enter this match feeling great about themselves. If you were at Toyota Field over the weekend, you know what we’re talking about. In front of what was easily the most energetic crowd of the season, San Antonio tallied twice in the final minutes to erase a 1-0 deficit and turned what appeared to be a sure loss into a win against Portland Timbers 2, to the delight of the raucous crowd. More of all of that would be welcome this Wednesday night as the focus shifts back to the Open Cup.
While the end result was fantastic, it did mask a lot of the same issues we’ve seen for SAFC recently. For 80 minutes the offense was stagnant and uninventive. Another performance like that will surely get this team bounced from the tournament. They will do well to focus on what went right in those final minutes and figure out how they can perform to that level for an entire match.
They will no doubt look to keep riding the recent success of Omar Gordon, who has now scored in three straight USL matches. He also has a goal and an assist in Open Cup play this season. Raise your hand if you had Omar Gordon as the team’s leading scorer at this stage of the season? His success has been a most welcome surprise. And Alex Bruce’s winner against T2 was his second goal in five league starts. Not a bad beginning to a professional career for the young 19-year-old. SAFC will surely hope he continues to deliver. Along with Lopez, who also has an Open Cup goal this year, those are definitely the key offensive players to build around at the moment.
Dallas also comes into the match riding high. They’ll be facing their 4th straight road match, going coast to coast and back, and they have not been road weary at all. They’ve won all three matches so far, most recently defeating both LA teams in successive fashion last week, downing the Galaxy 3-2 and LAFC 2-1. Those two matches alone were a markedly improved road performance for a team that had some struggles away from Toyota Stadium in the early going. Reto Ziegler and Roland Lamah scored for FC Dallas over the weekend.
Overall, Dallas looks like one of the best in MLS. With the win, they moved into the top spot in MLS West, and are third in points overall in the league. Needless to say, this will be a very tough opponent for SAFC. And as mentioned in our interview above, they are no strangers to Open Cup success, having won the tournament in 2016.
San Antonio has a bye week this weekend in USL play, so we’ll be pretty surprised (and disappointed) if we don’t see a strong SAFC team on the field Wednesday night. There’s no reason not to go all-in with their best players now that SAFC has reached the MLS portion of the competition. And really, an opponent of this stature practically demands it.
This opportunity is too huge to squander and FC Dallas may not feel like they have to play their best squad at this stage in the tournament. Somehow, someway, we think SAFC rises to the occasion, capitalizes on the moment and eeks out a victory, extending their 2018 Open Cup run into the final 16. It doesn’t have to be pretty – it just needs to be a victory.
San Antonio FC – 2
FC Dallas – 1
Name the three SAFC players who have worn the number 11.
*Answer in the next edition of the Six Pointer Preview*