Dax McCarty terms his health status at "80-85 percent" right now.
Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

Hoops look to maintain streak vs. Battery

In each of the last two years, FC Dallas has met the Charleston Battery of the United Soccer Leagues First Division in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. And in both matches, the Hoops have prevailed at Blackbaud Stadium.

The sides meet again on Tuesday in an Open Cup quarterfinal match at Pizza Hut Park and once again, it should be a hard-fought affair.

"I know what they have and what they will come in with," FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman said of the Battery. "They will come in with 100 percent energy and enthusiasm. They will be focused and work very hard. If we choose not to run with them, then we will be in trouble."

On Aug. 2, 2006, FCD won 4-3 on penalty kicks after getting the first career hat trick from forward Kenny Cooper in the match, which ended 3-3 at the end of 120 minutes. Then, one year ago, the Hoops prevailed 2-1 in overtime with Arturo Alvarez netting the game winner in the 95th minute.

The Battery advanced by beating the Houston Dynamo -- for the second year in a row -- in a penalty kick shootout last week after a 1-1 draw through 120 minutes.

"It was a tough game down there," said midfielder Dax McCarty. "They beat Houston two years in a row. That shows some of their character and talent. It's a big competition, so we obviously want to advance.

Last Tuesday, FCD eliminated Miami FC, also of USL-1 by a 2-1 score. Striker Abe Thompson scored both of the Hoops' goals with the second coming in stoppage time. That strike gave him five goals for the Hoops in Open Cup play, the club's all-time scoring leader in that storied event.

"It's different than a league game because these teams come in, see that target on our back and see it as a chance to impress," McCarty said. "It's going to be a tough game like it always is against any USL team. We definitely struggled against Miami but deserved to win. I think we can expect to see another game like that where they sit in a little bit more and wait to get us on the break. We just have to be patient and take it from there." Thompson delivered again on Friday with a stoppage time strike against Kansas City that allowed FCD to salvage a point in league play.

Another FCD player who had a great impact in each of the last two games is rookie midfielder Eric Avila. He came off the bench in the 39th minute against Miami FC and energized the attack. Against the Wizards, he entered at the break and delivered the game-tying assist to Thompson.

However, the talented 21-year-old sees Tuesday like any other match. "For me, it's just another game to prove myself and also to get the win," Avila said. "Hopefully, everything goes well."

Since FCD doesn't have another league match until July 19 against Colorado, and since the Hoops also aren't in SuperLiga 2008, Hyndman will have a full roster to choose from -- nearly.

Left back Adrian Serioux suffered a groin injury against Kansas City on Friday and is questionable. "He picked up a little bit of a groin injury and with us being limited to five internationals (in the Open Cup), it might be a situation where it might be best for him to sit out," Hyndman said.

But the news is better for McCarty, a contender to be on the U.S. Olympic team, who has struggled to reach full fitness since having sports hernia surgery in the middle of May.

"Dax (McCarty) is getting better," Hyndman said. "He's telling me that he's continuing to move up on his percentage. I think he's probably at 80-85 percent right now. Now what he needs to do is play without incurring any injuries."

Steve Hunt is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

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