FC Dallas begins their Lamar Hunt US Open Cup journey tonight as they travel to Florida for a third-round matchup against the NASL's Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Here's a look at what you could see from the Strikers, a primer on the USOC for those not familiar and a look at some connections between the two sides.
FC Dallas(MLS) at Fort Lauderdale Strikers(NASL)
Lockhart Stadium - Fort Lauderdale, Florida
What is the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup?
The oldest national soccer competition in the United States, the Lamar Hunt US 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's seven official rounds of the US Open Cup with all non-MLS professional teams entering in the second round while MLS teams enter in the third round. Tonight, all 17 American MLS clubs will face off against PDL, USL and NASL teams in some tricky matchups all over the country.
It's a straight knockout competition as the remaining 32 clubs will be whittled all the way down to two who will face off in the LUSOC Final on either October 1 or 2.
Who are the Fort Lauderdale Strikers?
Founded in 2006, the FTL Strikers were originally known as Miami FC. Owned by sports agency giants Traffic Sports, Miami FC boasted a lineup with Brazilian legends like Zinho and Romario. Miami FC renamed themselves the Fort Lauderdale Strikers before the 2011 season moving to Lockhart Stadium, the former home of the now-defunt Miami Fusion.
Fort Lauderdale was the 2011 NASL runner-up and fell to RSL last season in the third round of the USOC.
Looking at the 2013 Fort Lauderdale Strikers
2013 has been a bit of a struggle for the Strikers. Daryl Shore's men sit in sixth out of the seven-team NASL with a 2-4-1 record through seven games, though the Strikers did score a 1-0 win on Sunday playing at FC Edmonton. Despite leading the league with 91 shots, the Strikers have scored seven goals in seven games, tied for second-fewest in the league.
Englishman David Foley leads the Strikers in scoring with two goals in the young season. Foley moved to FTL after an NASL Best XI season with Puerto Rico in 2012. Incidentally, Foley won the Dallas Cup in 2004 with Hartlepool FC.
Who to watch on Fort Lauderdale?
The real dangerman for the Strikers is another Englishman, Mark Anderson. After a prolific career at the Division II level at Barry University, Anderson joined the Strikers in 2012, leading the Strikers with 11 goals including some truly special ones. You clearly don't want this guy shooting from distance.
FC Dallas connections
There are a surprisingly large number of connections between Fort Lauderdale and FC Dallas, the biggest of which coming from the front office. Technical Director Fernando Clavijo and Assistant Technical Director Luiz Muzzi were closely affiliated with the club during their respective stints working for Traffic Sports and Muzzi was the general manager of the team through its first five seasons. The former affiliation certainly can't hurt Schellas Hyndman as he prepares the club for what is a bit of an unknown Strikers side.
There are two other connections to FC Dallas on the Strikers roster, the first of which is defender Scott Gordon. Originally drafted by FC Dallas in 2011, Gordon was one of the last players cut from both the 2011 and 2012 FC Dallas pre-seasons. An big and athletic defender, Gordon is in his third season with his hometown Fort Lauderdale side.
If you go back deep in franchise history, you'll find Strikers defender Shavar Thomas who was drafted in the first round of the 2003 SuperDraft by the Dallas Burn. Thomas was traded to Kansas City after one season with the franchise.
What to expect from FC Dallas?
How Schellas Hyndman will pick his squad for tonight's game is certainly a bit of an unknown coming just 72 hours after defeating San Jose and with another MLS game on Saturday in Colorado. Don't be surprised to see Panamanian Blas Perez starting the match as he was suspended for Saturday's game vs. San Jose while other players like Stephen Keel, Bobby Warshaw and London Woodberry could certainly be seen as well. There's also a high likelyhood that Dallas-native Ramon Nunez will see his first minutes with FC Dallas as he returns from a torn ACL.
Should FC Dallas slide by the tricky Strikers, a fourth-round home match at FC Dallas Stadium on Wednesday, June 12 awaits Hyndman's men against the winner of Houston Dynamo(MLS) vs FC Tuscon(PDL).