The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup adventure gets started for FC Dallas tonight at Toyota Stadium against the NASL's San Antonio Scorpions and it's going to be a bit of an old school affair.
Tonight, we will not be streaming our LHUSOC match on FCDallas.com or even having the Toyota Stadium video boards active inside the stadium and here's why:
Substantial upgrades to the audio/visual setup were approved here at Toyota Stadium recently bringing in new HD cameras as well as upgrades to various other systems that will improve the gameday experience on our jumbotron as well as allowing the capability for future live streams in HD. However, these improvements take nearly a month to install.
When the 2014 schedule came out, there was a perfect gap of home games between June 7 and July 4 due to the World Cup, allowing for these upgrades to be installed right before our big Fourth of July home game against Philadelphia. When tonight's LHUSOC game was allocated to Toyota Stadium, that obviously presented a dilemma to either stall the upgrades until the end of the season, or go ahead and install them now and bite the bullet for this game against San Antonio.
While we apologize to those in DFW & San Antonio who will not be able to watch tonight's match, with eight MLS home games, our upcoming Aston Villa friendly, and hopefully additional LHUSOC/MLS Cup playoff games coming up in the second half of the season at Toyota Stadium, the decision was made to go ahead with these upgrades which render the video board and any live stream impossible for this evening's game.
We hope to see everyone out at Toyota Stadium tonight for the beginning of what will hopefully be an extended run in this year's edition of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup begins for FCD today as they take on the NASL's San Antonio Scorpions in the fourth round of the historic tournament kicking off at 8:00PM at Toyota Stadium in Frisco.
The Scorpions come into this match off a 2-2 draw against the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers in their final spring season match on June 7th. Josue Soto was a standout player from the match having only played in the second half but managing to score a goal and make a save at the post on a free kick. Their record this spring season was a very solid 5-2-2 which was good for third in the overall standings. Former FC Dallas man Eric Hassli has been solid for the Scorpions with the most goals(3) and asissts(3) on the team.
The Scorpions arrive in Frisco having overcome an early deficit in the third round of the Open Cup to beat the North Texas Rayados of the United States Amateur Soccer Association 4-2. Alberto Rodriguez scored their first goal in the 20th minute. In the 49th minute striker Walter Restrepo scored the second goal for the Scorpions. The next two goals came from forward Sainey Touray five minutes apart in the 64th and 69th minute.
This will actually be the second time FC Dallas and San Antonio have met this year with FCD and the Scorpions playing to a 1-1 draw in the final pre-season match of 2014.
Some guys you might recognize from the Scorpions besides Hassli include Richard Menjivar who was here just two weeks ago with the El Salvador national team against Ivory Coast, Danny Barrera who was a part of the Cal FC Open Cup heroics of 2011, and former SMU standout Josue Soto formerly of Chivas USA and Houston.
Here's your match highlights from Wednesday's 2-2 draw at Portland:
2014 World Cup Group F
How they got here: Finished first in CONMEBOL qualifying
2010 World Cup: Beat 4-0 by Germany in the quarterfinals.
Best case: Argentina is one of the few teams that can say they have a real chance to win this tournament. Their trio of Messi, Di Maria and Aguero is better than any in the world and if the defense can hold up, they're going to cruise to at least the quarterfinals. They can't possibly meet Spain or Brazil until at least the semifinals, so the stage is set for Argentina...
Worst case: It would be shocking to see Argentina not at least advance to the quarterfinals. Perhaps the worst case is falling to a team like Germany or Belgium in the quarterfinals which, while possible, would be a huge disappointment for a team with championship aspirations.
Player to watch: Who else but Lionel Messi? He's the best player in the world and he's been in decent form with Argentina heading into this tournament. As unfair as it is, the 2014 World Cup will go a long way to determining whether we see Messi as the best of all-time.
X Factor: We know about Messi and Aguero, but if Angel Di Maria can play as well as he has been recently with Real Madrid, Argentina becomes almost unbeatable. Di Maria, now 26 years old and in his absolute prime, will be a huge piece of the Argentina offense.
BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA
How they got here: Won their UEFA qualfiying group, beating Greece on goal differential.
2010 World Cup: DNP
Best case: Playing in their first World Cup, B&H leans on their stars, Edin Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic, and those two star forwards score the goals that get B&H through a relatively easy group. The USA must be wondering why they couldn't have been drawn here.
Worst case: With a no-name defense and a first-time World Cup squad, the stage is just a little bit too big and Nigeria is able to beat the Europeans, sending them out at the group stage.
Player to watch: We've seen him do the business with Manchester City winning two EPL titles and Dzeko can solidify his name among the best forwards in the world if he can lead Bosnia out of the group stage.
X Factor: Miralem Pjanic is the creative, attacking engine of this team and he will need to pull the strings to create the goals Bosnia needs.
How they got here: Finished first in AFC qualifying, ahead of South Korea
2010 World Cup: DNP
Best case: This Iran team is pretty much unknown with a squad that plays almost exclusively in Iran so it's incredibly tough to call. If they win a game, they'll be very pleased with themselves.
Worst case: Iran is simply overmatched against three solid teams with very different styles and they go out without a point from the group stage.
Player to watch: One of the few that plays in Europe, Ashkan Dejagah had an up and down season for Fulham, but is capable of scoring great goals and would be the one who likely scores if Iran could nip a 1-0 win.
X Factor: I'd be lying if I said there was a player other than Dejagah that I've ever seen play. The X Factor for Iran isn't simply one player, it's staying compact defensively against Nigeria and Bosnia.
How they got here: Defeated Ethiopia in their qualifying playoff.
2010 World Cup: Did not win a match, going 0-1-2. They haven't won a World Cup match since 2002.
Best case: Playing in a manageable group, the Super Eagles return to their former success advancing from the group stage for the first time since 1998.
Worst case: Nigeria is unable to cope with the European talent on Bosnia and they fall in that group-deciding match failing to advance from the group.
Player to watch: Ogenyi Onazi is the central midfield engine of both Nigeria and Lazio. At just 21 years old, Onazi is primed to move to a big European club with a solid World Cup.
X Factor: Peter Odemwingie has been a decent forward in the EPL since 2010 and while he's had an up and down career for Nigeria, he's likely their best forward option and will need to score some goals for the Super Eagles to advance.
Argentina 1st, Nigeria 2nd, Bosnia & Herzegovina 3rd, Iran 4th
This one is pretty straight forward for first place, but second is a toss-up between Nigeria and Bosnia & Herzegovina. They play second in the schedule and I think Nigeria playing Argentina 3rd could play into the Super Eagles' hands.
I like Nigeria to earn 5 points out of the group which will be enough to advance second.
What do you think about this group?
Here's your Toyota Keys to the Match for FCD's final game before the World Cup break in Portland on Wednesday:
We spanned the metroplex to find our McDonald's World Cup Junior Reporter, Olivia Rueckert, who will be reporting throughout the 2014 World Cup. We've been filming segments over the last couple weeks and here's the first introduction to Olivia:
FCD was back to winning ways on Saturday night thanks to Fabian Castillo's game-winner in the 3-2 victory over Colorado. The goal was Castillo's fourth of the season, twice as many as the 21-year-old scored last season, and his wonderstrike has been nominated for AT&T MLS Goal of the Week.
WATCH: GOTW Week 12
Check out the best photos from Saturday's win against Colorado
2014 World Cup Group B
How they got here: Finished second in CONMEBOL qualifying just two points behind Argentina
2010 World Cup: DNP
Best case: Colombia should advance from this managable group despite the loss of Falcao but a Round of 16 matchup against either England, Italy or Uruguay will pose problems. Playing in the tougher half of the bracket, a quarterfinal apperance is as much as Los Cafeteros can hope for.
Worst case: The stage is just a little too big for a Colombian team appearing in their first Mundial in 16 years. The loss to Falcao and a draw against Greece in their first match dooms Colombia to a first round exit.
Player to watch: With Falcao now definitely out of the tournament, Colombia will need someone to step up at forward and Jackson Martinez could be the man for the job. The big, strong forward has been an absolute goal machine at all three stops in his career including 46 goals in the last two seasons at Porto. A big World Cup could see him make the move to one of the top clubs in the world.
X Factor: The biggest questions for Colombia are in the back and whether they can hold teams off the board. In his prime, Mario Yepes was one of the best defenders in the world and now 38 years old, Colombia will be hoping to get one last hurrah out of the center back.
How they got here: Finished second in their UEFA qualifying group defeating Romania in a two-legged playoff.
2010 World Cup: Fell in the group stage winning once and losing twice.
Best case: Greece has never advanced out of the group stage at the World Cup and the only way they will this time is if they can repeat their defensive efforts of 10 years ago in the 2004 European Championships. Sneaking through with four points and a neutral goal difference is about the best they can hope for.
Worst case: A mis-firing Kostas Mitroglu is unable to find the back of the net and Greece exits the tournament with only a point.
Player to watch: Giorgious Karagounis is the Greece captain and an absolute soccer legend. A pitbull of a midfielder, Karagounis has been the heart and soul of the Greece National Team and now 37 years old, this will be his final spotlight on the world stage.
X Factor: The previously mentioned Mitroglu has a prolific scoring record in the Champions League over the last year and for an aging Greece attack, they'll need Mitroglu to pull out some heroics to have any chance.
How they got here: Defeated Senegal in two-leg playoff after winning their CAF qualifying group
2010 World Cup: Barely missed out on advancing out of their group with Brazil and Portugal.
Best case: Ivory Coast could be the real surprise team of this tournament and advance a long ways. I back them to advance from this group and a round of 16 match against either England, Italy or Uruguay would be fascinating. Much like Colombia, the quarterfinals isn't out of reach for the Elephants.
Worst case: Didier Drogba can't quite reach his world class level again and the rough-and-tumble style of Ivory Coast picks up a crucial red card early in one of their games to doom them to another group stage exit.
Player to watch: Gervinho had arguably his best season as a professional finishing tied at the top of Serie A assist leaders and we saw it first hand with his goal and assist vs El Salvador at Toyota Stadium. He's quite simply one of the best wingers in the world right now.
X Factor: How healthy is Yaya Toure? He didn't play in either of Ivory Coast's American tour games and his status will go a long way to determining how the Elephants will do. Arguably the best two-way midfielder in the world, Toure has the ability to carry this team on his back...if his legs can support them.
How they got here: Easily qualified from their AFC qualifying group.
2010 World Cup: Defeated Cameroon & Denmark en route to the round of 16 where they fell to Paraguay on penalty kicks.
Best case: Japan has been working towards a quarterfinal appearance for the last decade and they have the talent and experience to get there. Could be another dark horse like Ivory Coast and Colombia.
Worst case: The Japanese have done poorly in the World Cup following their round of 16 appearances and their disastrous 2013 Confederations Cup throws up a huge red flag that perhaps Brazil won't go too well for them. In a group where anyone could advance, Japan might be the ones who suffer.
Player to watch: Keisuke Honda has been the Japanese attacking engine for what seems like years. He was spectacular scoring two goals in the 2010 World Cup and has finally settled his club situation after moving to AC Milan in the winter.
X Factor: Shinji Kagawa struggled to break into the Manchester United first team, but his attacking talent is unquestioned. If he can prove to be a successful foil to Honda and take some defensive pressure off him, Japan should find the goals to advance through the group stage.
Ivory Coast 1st, Colombia 2nd, Japan 3rd, Greece 4th
For me this is by far the toughest group to predict with probably the most diverse four teams in the tournament.
Perhaps I'm biased because we saw them up close right here in Frisco, but Ivory Coast is such a formidable team and with two prior World Cups under their belt, they now have the experience to know exactly what it takes to succeed on soccer's biggest stage.
It's tough for me to go against Colombia at least advancing from the group in South America which leaves Japan as the odd man out. Their 2013 Confederations Cup disaster really scares me and even though on paper they might be the most talented team in the group, I think they'll crash out with a Greece team that simply can't score enough goals.
Hear from Oscar Pareja, Fabian Castillo and Zach Loyd after FC Dallas' 3-2 win over the Colorado Rapids.