Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal Preview: FC Dallas vs Portland Timbers
For a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup record 13th time, FC Dallas will play in a quarterfinal match of the prestigious tournament tonight hosting Western Conference rival Portland Timbers at FC Dallas Stadium. This is the third time this year that Portland and Dallas have met in a competitive match with the Timbers holding a slight advantage this season with one win and one draw. Here's what you could see tonight in the crucial quarterfinal matchup:
FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers FC
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal
FC Dallas Stadium - Frisco, Texas
What is the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup?
The oldest national soccer competition in the United States, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is celebrating its 100th edition of the competition in 2013. Open to any USSF affiliated team from the amateur level all the way to MLS, the LHUSOC is the United States' version of England's FA Cup.
There are seven official rounds of the U.S. Open Cup, with all non-MLS professional teams entering in the second round while MLS teams enter in the third round. Currently, we’re in the quarterfinal of the tournament with eight teams left including six MLS teams(FC Dallas, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, New England Revolution, DC United & Chicago Fire).
How did they get here?
FC Dallas has excelled in the 2013 LHUSOC traveling to Fort Lauderdale in the third round to defeat the Strikers 2-0 behind goals from Blas Perez and Matt Hedges. Chris Seitz was immense in the shutout win that saw FCD advance to the fourth round. In that fourth round, FC Dallas rolled to a 3-0 win at home over Texas Derby rival Houston Dynamo with Kenny Cooper scoring twice in the big win. FCD is the only team left in the tournament yet to allow a goal.
Tonight marks the first time the Portland Timbers have ever advanced as far as the quarterfinal stage of the cup and they got here in relatively straightforward fashion. Portland easily dispatched of the USL PRO's Wilmington Hammerheads in the third round with Frederic Piquionne scoring four times in the 5-1 victory. In the fourth round, Portland found goals in either half from Michael Nanchoff and Jack Jewsbury to book their trip to Frisco.
Last time they met
FC Dallas fought perhaps as hard as any game this season, but a second half wondergoal from Darlington Nagbe sealed a 1-0 win for Portland. In that match, Dallas was forced to play without Blas Perez who was away on international duty, Kenny Cooper who left three hours before the match due to a family emergency, and Eric Hassli who was forced out of the match after nine minutes with a back injury. In their other meeting of the season, a second half penalty kick from Kenny Cooper earned FCD a point in a 1-1 draw with the hard-working Timbers.
Looking at the Timbers
Portland comes into tonight's match as the hottest team in Major League Soccer. They boast an incredible 17-game unbeaten streak in all competitions that dates back to early March and they're tied for the lead in the Western Conference with Real Salt Lake on 30 points from 17 matches, one point ahead of FC Dallas. Right now they're led by the red-hot Darlington Nagbe who has a goal or an assist in five of his last ten games. Will Johnson is the leader in the middle of the pitch for Portland and he had a goal and an assist in their 3-0 win over Colorado on Sunday.
What role will the heat play?
One of the biggest questions heading into tonight's match is what role the near-100 degree heat will play. Portland is sure to bring a strong lineup into tonight's game, but at the end of a six games in 19 days stretch, they will have to dig deep to beat a Dallas team that is undefeated at home in 2013. The positive for Portland is they don't play another competitive match until July 7 while Dallas must quickly turn around and fly to Philadelphia for a game against the Union on Saturday.
What to expect from FC Dallas?
It will be very interesting to see what Schellas Hyndman does with tonight's lineup. The Dallas head coach has not been shy in throwing out MLS-caliber starting lineups in the first two LHUSOC games and tonight should be no different. With Blas Perez back from international duty and rested after a cameo appearance on Saturday against Kansas City, expect the Panamanian to start up front while you have to wonder if we could see Ramon Nunez make his first FC Dallas start after an impressive 20 minutes on Saturday against Sporting. Rookie Walker Zimmerman could make another start in the back after his dramatic last-minute goal on Saturday while it will be interesting to see if Hyndman chooses to start Raul Fernandez in goal or Chris Seitz who has started both LHUSOC games without allowing a goal.
The winner of tonight's match will advance to the semifinals where they'll play at the winner of Real Salt Lake/Carolina Railhawks. A semifinal trip for FC Dallas would be their eighth which would tie them with DC United and Chicago as the most in tournament history. For Portland, this is uncharted waters and there's nothing Caleb Porter would like most in his first season at the helm than to bring home the 100th Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. As mentioned earlier, Portland is off after tonight in MLS play until July 7th while for Dallas things only ramp up as they'll travel to Philadelphia for a game against the Union on Saturday before returning home for a July 4th match next Thursday against Chivas USA in Frisco.