FC Dallas enters into Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play on Tuesday evening with a fourth-round matchup against Oklahoma City Energy FC (USL) in Fort Worth. Last season, Dallas was eliminated from the Open Cup in the semifinal round on penalty kicks against the Philadelphia Union at home. Energy FC beat the Midland/Odessa Sockers (PDL) and in-state rival Tulsa Roughnecks FC (USL) in the second and third round to write their ticket to the metroplex.
Off the Grid
The second-year USL franchise comes into Tuesday’s match having won seven straight games, including their two Open Cup wins earlier in the tournament. Under the direction of former Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, OKC has posted a 7-2-3 record in league play this season and leads USL’s Western Conference with 24 points. The team is led in scoring by forwards Danni Konig (8) and Kyle Grieg (7), with the tandem accounting for 16 of the team’s 24 goals across all competitions. Energy FC is the USL affiliate of Sporting KC, but currently have just one MLS-contracted player on loan – Mikey Lopez.
Last season, the Energy played one game against the FC Dallas Reserve team at Toyota Stadium – a game the FCD Reserves took 1-0. OKC has seen MLS opponents in 2015 having faced Toronto FC, New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew SC during preseason play in Florida and posting a 1-2-0 record against the three sides.
Key Player for Energy FC
Evan Newton – The team’s starting keeper has posted a clean sheet in his last five starts (both LHUSOC and USL play) and has not allowed a goal in a club-record 475 minutes of play. He has allowed 10 goals in 12 starts this season and was the starting keeper in OKC’s 1-0 win over Toronto FC in February. The 27-year-old was a 7th overall pick of the Houston Dynamo in the 2011 MLS Supplemental Draft.
Blas Perez vs. Jacob VanCompernolle – The Dallas-native has been a stand-out on the Energy FC back line in his rookie season, and a key to the defensive success of the team. VanCompernolle has started all but two games for OKC this year in his first season out of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.
Zach Loyd vs. Danni Konig – Head coach Jimmy Nielsen has brought over the high-pressure system from his days with Sporting KC, and the Danish striker has thrived on the attack for OKC – leading the team in goals this season with nine.
Goalkeeper: Evan Newton; Defenders: Christian Duke, Jacob VanCompernolle, Coady Andrews, Michael Thomas; Midfielders: Sebastian Dalgaard, Chuy Sanchez, Gareth Evans, Casey Townsend; Forwards: Danni Konig, Kyle Greig
Keys to three points
In the middle of a stretch of three games in seven days, FC Dallas will look for a fresh start against a non-MLS squad. Oklahoma City is not a team to be over-looked, but if FCD can build off of what head coach Oscar Pareja described as the team’s best first half of the season on Saturday in Seattle, the team should punch their ticket to the quarterfinal round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for the third straight year.