FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas’ defense of its US Open Cup crown remained unblemished Tuesday night with a 3-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids, thanks to a goals from Mauro Diaz and Ryan Hollingshead, two mainstays who had recently returned from injury.
The Argentine playmaker Diaz put the hosts on the board first after drawing a foul in the box in the 44th minute by Colorado midfielder Bismark Boateng. The foul came after a series of four one-touch passes in quick secession. Diaz converted the penalty himself, scorching the ball to the right of an incorrectly guessing Zac MacMath.
Colorado boss Pablo Mastroeni decided to sub Boateng out at half, inserting Michael Azira in his place – a decision that paid off just one minute into the new frame. Azira, trailing to his right, fired a shot in stride on the right side of the box, caroming it off FCD defender and former Rapid Maynor Figueroa for the quick equalizer in the 46th minute.
Like he did the hosts’ previous USOC match against Tulsa two weeks ago, Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja inserted a couple of regulars into the match in the second half to generate more attacking power, this time adding Michael Barrios and Tesho Akindele for Roland Lamah and Paxton Pomykal in the 52nd minute. And like Mastroeni’s halftime move, Pareja’s paid off.
After a noticeable jolt in energy from the two regular contributors, Diaz found Reggie Cannon near the back line to the right of the box, who fired a cross in front of MacMath, which landed at the feet of a streaking Hollingshead. He easily tapped it home, giving the hosts the game winner in the 57th minute.
Veteran midfielder Javier Morales added an insurance goal in the 89th minute on a free kick, squeezing the ball by the Colorado wall and bouncing it off MacMath’s legs and into the net to make the score 3-1 Dallas. The goal came after Colorado began playing with nine men, losing Shkelzen Gashi to injury after using all of their subs and Kortne Ford to a red card. Axel Sjoberg was also injured and replaced early in the first half.
- DAL: Diaz, Hollingshead provide FC Dallas promise in USOC victory vs Rapids
- COL: Colorado Rapids can't overcome injury onslaught in USOC loss to FC Dallas
- 45' – DAL – Mauro Diaz (PK) Watch
- 46' – COL – Michael Azira Watch
- 57' – DAL – Ryan Hollingshead Watch
- 89' – DAL – Javier Morales Watch
- BACK AND READY FOR MAURO: The U.S. Open Cup continues to be a valuable tool for Diaz as he looks to regain his peak form after a prolonged injury absence with a torn Achilles. It was in the previous round against Tulsa where Diaz made his first 90-minute outing of 2017. This time he went only 73 minutes, but that was after he went 67 in his first league start of the season, contributing an assist in Friday's 1-1 draw against the Houston Dynamo.
- A LONG TIME COMING: Diaz’s goal was his first since September of last year, and yet he had scored more recently than two of the night’s goalscorers. Hollingshead’s last goal came in a 1-1 league draw against Houston on June 2 of 2016. Azira hadn’t scored since he hit the net seven times for the USL’s Charleston Battery in the 2013 season.
- PLAYING SHORT: Long before finishing with nine men, the Rapids had to change their tactics early when they lost Sjoberg after just 20 minutes and Dillon Powers after 34. For Sjoberg, it’s just the continuation of a difficult year, in which the 2016 Defender of the Year finalist has made only five league starts while battling a hamstring injury.