FC Dallas are on the hunt for their first Lamar Hunt US Open Cup win since 1997, but standing in their way is a side that's thrown a wrench in many MLS teams' USOC hopes over the course of the years – the Carolina RailHawks.
The North American Soccer League (NASL) side eliminated both Chivas USA and the LA Galaxy from the tournament this year, just as they did last year, and to the Galaxy in 2012. Dallas, though, have impressed in getting through their US Open Cup schedule despite a dip in MLS form, defeating two in-state opponents in the Houston Dynamo and San Antonio Scorpions to reach the quarterfinals.
FC Dallas Outlook
FRISCO, Texas – As with many lower division clubs, the Carolina RailHawks have something to prove when playing an MLS side, and the Carolina team already has two MLS scalps on the wall this year.
On the other hand, Dallas have their own reasons for taking the tournament seriously. A tradition that started with the club in 1996, Dallas have made the quarterfinals more than any club (14), and have made the semifinals seven times, been a finalist three times, and won the trophy in 1997. The Open Cup is all the more important to the team as it now bears the family name of the Hunt family, who currently own FC Dallas.
“It is important for me, this trophy, and for the club, the organization,” said head coach Oscar Pareja. “The importance of this game is high, so we’re going to take that approach.”
On Friday, FC Dallas continued to distance itself from an awful May with its first win of July, a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union. In addition to the win, Dallas celebrated the return of playmaker Mauro Diaz and defensive mid Hendry Thomas. Diaz, the MLS Player of the Month for March, is expected to be available for Wednesday’s game.
Additionally, young winger Fabian Castillo will be rested and available for this match even as he is serving a four-game suspension in MLS play for an incident at the end of the FC Dallas-Portland Timbers match on June 11.
As strong as Dallas may be, the NASL side has more than enough talent to challenge the team from Texas. Managed by a former FC Dallas coach in Colin Clarke, the RailHawks have already defeated two MLS teams, proving that they have what it takes to succeed in the middle rounds of the 101 year old competition. They also are unbeaten at home in 2014 across all competitions.
“They have done a good job in the tournament,” Pareja said. “They have some quality. It’s a team we treat with a lot of respect. It’s important to have a good game against them.”
“Colin normally has a team that plays with intensity and is very organized. I played for Colin, so I know he likes that intensity.”
– Kevin Lindstrom
Carolina RailHawks Outlook
The RailHawks, one of the new NASL's most recognizable franchises, fell short of the league's Spring Season title, finishing in fourth place with a 4-3-2 record, but will be riding high after defeating MLS teams in consecutive games for the second straight year in the US Open Cup.
Goalkeeper Scott Goodwin was named TheCup.us's Player of the Round for the fifth round thanks to his outstanding contributions in the team's most recent win – a 1-0 extra time effort against an LA Galaxy side featuring Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.
Goodwin, 23 and a graduate of nearby University of North Carolina, has backed up usual starter Akira Fitzgerland for most of the league season, but has started all three of Carolina's Open Cup contests to date after Fitzgerald broke his thumb and looks set to add to that total against a dangerous and dynamic FC Dallas attack.
“Scottie Goodwin pushes Akira every day in training, and it shows when he’s called upon,” Carolina head coach Colin Clarke told the Cary News. “He made some huge saves [against LA].”