The Houston Dynamo will take on Sporting Kansas City in the fifth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Wednesday June, 28th at 5:30 PM at BBVA Compass Stadium. The game is part of a double header with the Houston Dash who will face the Boston Breakers following the US Open Cup match. Both the Dynamo and SKC have played games this past weekend and have MLS games this Saturday. The Dynamo have one days rest on SKC, but with such a congested schedule that day means little (thank you schedulers). The winner of the game will move on to face the winner of the FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids match at a date between July 7th and the 16th.
The Road to the Fifth Round Matchup
MLS clubs that qualify for the US Open Cup begin their journey in the fourth round of the competition and Sporting Kansas City blew passed their MLS opponent, Minnesota United FC, in their opening game. They bested MNUFC to the tune of 4-0 while trotting out a largely 1st team squad. Ike Opara opened up the scoring in Kansas City with a header following a corner kick with Gerso putting the home team up 2-0 before halftime after scoring on a rebounded shot off the woodwork. Dom Dwyer kept the momentum going after holding his run perfectly to remain onside prior to a through pass that he calmly put away. Daniel Salloi made it 4-0 late in the game to put the match completely out of reach for the MLS newcomers.
The Dynamo fielded a largely reserve team in their 3-2 win over North Carolina FC. The Dynamo made the trip to the East Coach to play NCFC with Andrew Wenger and Vicente Sanchez being the only players to see minutes with the first team outside of cameo minutes by Joseph Holland and Memo Rodriguez. The game seemed pretty open as neither side was too prepared to play much defense and yet the strikes on goal were often poor. Steven Miller opened the scoring for North Carolina after he collected a ball that was poorly cleared and he blasted it from distance into the top corner. Wenger would level the match about 20 minutes later following a low cross by Sanchez. Sanchez beat his defender showing the oldest player on the Dynamo still has some strength and Wenger was able to fall in front of the ball to put it in the net. Dylan Remick made it 2-1 for the Dynamo after pressing defenders high up the field (yes as a defender) and he took possession and slotted home his shot perfectly. NCFC would equalize with a beautiful free kick goal by Lance Laing. The game would be delayed due to lightning and then the match went into extra time with the game still tied. Memo Rodriguez would finish off the home team with a strike from distance through traffic to push the Dynamo through to the next round.
What to expect
It’s difficult to accurately predict what will happen because it depends on personnel used. SKC showed that they aren’t afraid to put out a first team in the early stages of this competition and the Dynamo showed that they’re willing to rest guys to give younger players minutes. I would think we see a mix of players for the Dynamo with Vicente Sanchez and Andrew Wenger likely to get another start up top. I would predict a similar lineup for SKC with Dom Dwyer and Graham Zusi playing big roles for their side. Against NCFC the Dynamo were very exposed at the back and had trouble putting their own chances away. They’ll need to be sharper on both sides of the ball against a great SKC side. SKC have had a great year and currently sit in 1st place in the Western Conference while the Dynamo have found their own luck at BBVA Compass Stadium which has helped them get to 2nd place in the West. The game is at BBVA where the Dynamo have been undefeated so far, but they’ll need to put together a near complete performance to go up against their former Eastern Conference rival.
Lack of emphasis on USOC by MLS
MLS clubs have often been accused of not giving the US Open Cup a fair look. After all the winner of the competition gets money and entry into the CONCACAF Champion’s League. Still, the congested schedule makes it reasonable to not play first team players and for the competition to take a back seat to league play. After the Dynamo’s game against the Rapids this Saturday the club will have played 5 games in 3 weeks due to Open Cup fixtures. That’s a lot of wear and tear and even more when you consider players that have been with their national teams. I think the Open Cup deserves more attention, but scheduling must be better for coaches to play their best players. Some clubs like SKC and the Sounders take it very seriously and I think it’s good that they do, but I think the other side isn’t unreasonable for resting players either.
Toughest Test of the Year
Last week’s match against FC Dallas was one of the most intense matches of the year at BBVA. The crowd was outstanding and the match showed a renewed physical and emotional rivalry between two Texas clubs. Well, SKC may up the ante with their play and will test our unbeaten run at home in 2017.
Kick off will be at 5:30 this Wednesday June 28th at BBVA Compass Stadium and be sure to catch the Dash game afterwards!