- Updated: September 12, 2016
The 103rd U.S. Open Cup will be decided Tuesday night in Frisco, Texas in a re-match of the 2007 U.S. Open Cup final. Although both teams are looking for their second U.S. Open Cup championships, the match means so much for very different reasons.
The visiting New England Revolution have seen little go right for them in the 2016 season and are hoping a late-season push could salvage a playoff birth. In the other corner, FC Dallas are favorites for the Supporters’ Shield, look like strong contenders for the MLS Cup, and have outside hopes to win the CONACAF Champions League.
For the Revolution, a team that doesn’t look built for a deep playoff run, a U.S. Open Cup would ease the pain of a long season. For FC Dallas, winning the U.S. Open Cup would be the first of many potential accomplishments for what could be one of the best MLS teams in the league’s history.
For the Revolution, their manager holds a sub-.500 managerial record in his fifth season, and is hoping to add a U.S. Open Cup to cool off a warming hot seat. For FC Dallas, their manager holds the best winning percentage in franchise history in his third season and is hoping to add a U.S. Open Cup to his already impressive resume.
The Revolution are clear underdogs in a matchup that feels like David vs. Goliath. Their path to the U.S. Open Cup has seemed rocky at times, as they needed overtime to beat the Carolina Railhawks of the USL, beat the New York Cosmos by a single goal, and needed penalty kicks to beat the Philadelphia Union at home. The Revolution’s path has led to a final test that won’t allow them to squeak by.
In addition to home-field advantage, FC Dallas has the advantage of a well-rested team, as starters Michael Barrios, Mauro Diaz, and Carlos Gruezo started on the Dallas bench, with Barrios and Diaz only playing in the second half of a 1-0 loss against Colorado. It’s no secret Oscar Pareja was planning ahead for the U.S. Open Cup final, even if it meant conceding points in the Supporters Shield race.
Recent history is also on FC Dallas’ side, as they have won each of the last five matchups against the Revolution, outscoring the Revolution 11-2 in those five games. That stretch includes a 4-2 victory over the Revolution at Gillette Stadium on May 21st.
There shouldn’t be many surprises in the FC Dallas game plan, as they likely will field a 4-2-3-1 formation, with attacking midfielders Michael Barrios and Mauro Diaz, who lead the team in goals and assists, respectively, leading the offensive charge. If there is a silver lining for the Revolution, it is that FC Dallas will be without Fabian Castillo, who had established himself as one of the best players in the MLS prior to a loan to Turkish-side Trabzonspor. Since Castillo’s last appearance, FC Dallas is 5-2-4 in all competitions, and 3-2-2 in MLS competition.
The Revolution have found recent form with two home wins over the Colorado Rapids and New York City FC, utilizing a 4-4-2 diamond after their long-used 4-2-3-1 proved to be ineffective. Juan Agudelo scored twice and registered an assist in the past two matches after failing to score or assist a goal since May.
“I feel this team is starting to gel, starting to click and starting to fire on all cylinders,” Revolution goalkeeper Brad Knighton told USsoccer.com. “We’ve had some issues at the back and we’ve sorted that out. We’ve found ourselves defensively and that ultimately led to us putting balls in the back of the net.”
However, all the Revolution starters played at least 80 minutes on Saturday and Kei Kamara may return to the team, but has not been a part of New England’s resurgence the past two weeks. While Heaps is expected to play the hot hand and send out the same lineup as the past two weeks, it will be a tough ask for the Revolution to go 90 (or 120) minutes on short rest with the best team in the MLS.
Regardless, the underdog Revolution hope the momentum built in recent weeks will lead to an upset victory over FC Dallas, who might be looking onward to bigger and better things that lie ahead.
Kick-off of the match is at 10 pm EST and will be broadcast on ESPN2 and Univision.