FC Dallas survived a hard challenge from the NASL’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers, coming away from Florida with a 2-0 win in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup third round.
Second-half goals from Blas Perez and Matt Hedges sealed the win for FC Dallas, their first Open Cup road victory since 2007. FCD will host the winner of tomorrow’s third round match between the Houston Dynamo (MLS) and FC Tuscon (PDL) on Wednesday, June 12 at FC Dallas Stadium in the fourth round of the historic tournament.
Fort Lauderdale nearly took the lead in the third minute as Walter Restrepo slid behind the FC Dallas defense. Goalkeeper Chris Seitz came out quick off his line, however, and smothered the opportunity.
Looking to score in his second straight game, Fabian Castillo almost put FC Dallas in front after finding some space down the left side before cutting onto his right foot, but his 10th minute shot was curled just outside the post.
The best chance of the half fell to Restrepo as the American beat the FC Dallas offside trap, but his right-footed attempt to chip Seitz pinged off the crossbar and away to safety in the 12th minute.
The game began to get a little chippy late in the half with both Michel and first-half substitute Matt Hedges, who came on for Walker Zimmerman, picking up yellow cards.
At halftime, Fort Lauderdale held a 4-3 advantage in shots on goal as well as the majority of the possession in the first half, but the teams went to the halftime interval scoreless.
FC Dallas finally broke through in the second half to take the lead.
Midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson found some space on the right side, curling in a ball that flashed across the box to Castillo at the far post. The Colombian tapped a ball to Blas Perez who was unmarked in front of goal and slid under Strikers goalkeeper Matt Glaeser to put Dallas on top in the 54th minute.
After having a goal called back for offside, Dallas doubled their advantage in the 66th minute through a familiar connection. Brazilian midfielder Michel served in one of his trademark free kicks, finding Hedges at the far post. The defender headed home easily to put FC Dallas up 2-0.
From there, Dallas cruised to victory, bringing on Ramon Nunez late in the match for his first minutes with FC Dallas upon returning from an ACL injury.
With the win, Dallas moves on to the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup for the first time since 2011 and will host the winner of Wednesday’s match between the Houston Dynamo and FC Tuscon at FC Dallas Stadium on Wednesday, June 12.
FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman on the match:
We talked about coming out here and how this is a great opportunity for the Strikers to show their measuring stick against MLS players and an MLS team. Right now we’re in the fortunate position to be first in MLS so it’s a great opportunity and it’s also an opportunity to be seen by an MLS coach.
If someone comes out here and stands out, killing us in the midfield, why wouldn’t I think about bringing him? So I think it puts people under pressure. This is a very important competition for us because Lamar Hunt’s name is on the trophy. This is very important to us and our owners.
They did take it to us in the first half and I think a lot of that was enthusiasm and trying to set the initiative and as the game was going on they were building confidence. I think we settled things down at halftime and talked about some of the things they were doing. They outnumbered us in the center of the field and we weren’t quick enough to put pressure on the ball. I thought when we started doing that better it made it easier and they weren’t able to serve the ball as well as they wanted to.
On the first goal:
It was one of the few crosses that we made. We don’t normally play in a 4-4-2…and you can kind of see where we are without David Ferreira because we ran out of ideas trying to find someone and it became predictable for the Strikers. Getting that first goal always puts the pressure off and then I thought we even started playing better.
FC Dallas defender George John on the match:
Fort Lauderdale is a strong side and any time in this tournament that you come into an opposing team’s field, it’s tough to get a victory. They came out with a lot of energy and had a couple of great opportunities, but luckily we were able to come into halftime with a clean sheet and regroup. We got two goals and were able to come away with the victory to move on to the next round.