DALLAS — FC Dallas will begin its 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup journey Wednesday, as the team takes on San Antonio FC of the United Soccer League.
Dallas played the San Antonio Scorpions in the 2014 edition of the tournament, winning 2-0. That season, the Scorpions won the Soccer Bowl, defeating the Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2-1 at home.
That meeting is the only time FCD has played a San Antonio side. Dallas has won the Open Cup twice in its history, in 1997 and 2016. The team also finished runner-up twice, in 2005 and 2007.
Dallas has placed a major emphasis on the tournament, with coach Oscar Pareja looking to win the cup. In the early rounds, Dallas may trot out a team with a bit more youth, but not entirely, Pareja says.
“Everything starts from the responsibility we have as a club to go and perform well and try to get the result,” Pareja said. “But at the same time, we understand that it’s an opportunity to play some of the players, especially the youngsters, that are waiting for minutes and opportunities and games. We have included them much more this year because they are ready, at least more in training, but it’s a good opportunity, so we’ll mix stuff.”
While San Antonio sits in a lower league than MLS, Dallas isn’t taking the team lightly. SAFC sits just on the outside of the USL Western Conference, in ninth place with 17 points. The team has some former MLS faces, including Mikey Lopez, who is from the Dallas area and played for NYCFC last season, starting in five matches.
“San Antonio is a good team,” midfielder Jacori Hayes said. “I don’t think I played them when I was with Tulsa last year, but I remembered them being top of the USL, so we have to go in there strong. There’s a lot of guys who don’t get minutes in the MLS, so it’s a chance for us to prove to Oscar that we should be in the equation for the A teams and starting 11’s in the coming weeks.”
The mentality for a road game switches when it’s a cup match. In MLS matches, many teams strive for draws on the road. It’s considered a quality result in a league where travel has a massive toll on the players. In cup play, however, it’s do or die.
“You’re just fighting for three points,” Hayes said. “I won’t look at it any differently. Every game you try to go out there to win. You don’t play for a tie on the road for a cup match but we’re just going out there and try to get the job done.”
Hayes is expected to get some playing time in the match. He is one of the younger players on the squad, but the team could have many players with less experience than him on the pitch. Players like Brandon Servania, Paxton Pomykal, and Jesus Ferreira all could play and have a combined four MLS matches of experience between them.
“I wouldn’t call myself a veteran,” Hayes said when asked if his experience makes him a veteran on the younger squad. “There’s a couple of guys that have more MLS experience than I do in the side. I’ll try to do my best and carry my weight. If there’s a younger guy, try to talk him through things but everyone on this team is a quality player. I don’t expect any nerves or anything from anyone but I think we’ll have a strong side.”
Where: Toyota Field (San Antonio, Texas)
When: June 6, 7:30 p.m. CST
Stream: FCDallas.com/Live, USSoccer.com
Some Facts: San Antonio FC had to win two games to get to this point, defeating Midland-Odessa 4-0 and the Colorado Springs Switchbacks 1-1 (5-3 on PKs)… SAFC won its last match 2-1 over Portland Timbers 2, scoring two goals in the 86th and 90+3rd minute of stoppage time… In 2012, FC Dallas lost to Charlotte Eagles of the then USL Pro 2-0 in the third round of the cup. Toronto FC goalkeeper Clint Irwin was the keeper for the Eagles in that match.