Almost one year ago to the day, FC Dallas won a 4-1 game against Oklahoma City Energy FC in the Fourth Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. In the two friendlies since, Dallas has yet to lose to their counterpart north of the Red River – including a 2-1 preseason win and another 2-1 win as part of a season-opening double header – and they hope to extend that win streak tonight when the two teams face off at SMU's Westcott Field in Dallas.
The game is also the first for Dallas since a rainy 1-1 draw against the Houston Dynamo two weeks ago – as all of MLS took a mid-season break for Copa América Centenario. The team is eager to get back into the swing of things as they begin their Open Cup fight.
“It was a much needed break,” said midfielder Kellyn Acosta. “But after all that, we had a few days off and we’ve been training hard ever since. We’re finally putting our practice into play, so the guys are very excited.”
Defender Zach Loyd mentioned the advantage of knowing what to expect from their opponent in terms of formations and style of play, since they've faced Energy several times now and because several Dallas players have played for their OKC affiliate on loan.
"We know they have quality players and we know that for them, as individuals, it’s a big opportunity for them to show well and potentially make that jump to the MLS," Loyd said. "We know that they’re going to be coming out with a lot of energy, so we have to be able to match that.”
Dallas has made several strong appearances in the tournament named after their club patriarch, including reaching the semifinals eight times - their most recent run came in 2014 when they came up within moments of advancing on penalty kicks to the Philadelphia Union. They’ve reached the tournament final three times: once in 2007, when they fell 3-2 to the New England Revolution, in 2005, when they lost 1-0 to the LA Galaxy, and 19 years ago in 1997, when they earned their one and only Open Cup championship against D.C. United - back when they were still the Dallas Burn and in just their second season.
Forward Coy Craft, who has been played eight games on loan with Energy FC this season, said one of Dallas' goals on the year is to go far in the tournament.
“The name on the tournament obviously means a lot to this franchise, so it would be huge for us to win,” Craft said. “It’s one of those things where we have to take it game by game because it’s a knockout[-style tournament], so we have to focus on tomorrow, and then gradually work our way there.”
Tonight’s game will be Dallas’ first appearance in the 2016 Open Cup and a win would advance them to the Round of 16 in the competition for the second consecutive year. However, it's still important to take a lower level opponent seriously in every situation.
"We have to be respectful of them," Acosta said. "Even in preseason when we played them, they were a tough opponent. Coming in today, they’re going to be just as tough or maybe even tougher so we have to keep fighting, keep battling and hopefully the points come our way.”
FC Dallas and Oklahoma City Energy FC are slated to begin play at 7:30 p.m. at SMU’s Westcott Field and you can buy general admission tickets right here or at the gate for $15.