Welcome to this special LHUSOC edition of 3 Questions. We are lucky to have Kevin Eaton from The Grid, OKC Energy's supporter's group. Kevin holds the officer position of secretary for The Grid and can be found on Twitter @kevineaton1. Let's dive into the Q&A:
Kevin, The Grid: I know this sounds extremely cliché to say but I feel really confident going into tomorrow's match. I was talking to one of the players earlier today and he seemed really excited and loose and ready to go. The Energy faced Toronto FC in the IMG SunCoast tournament during the preseason and beat them 1-0 in the group stages. This is a team with Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley, both of whom played the majority of the game, guys who are on our National team and this team shut them down. I know that the supporters are buzzing with excitement right now too. Last season The Energy were knocked out in the third round by Arizona United. So for the team to still be in the US Open Cup we, as supporters, are just bouncing off the walls. The thing that concerns us the most isn't necessarily losing, its injuries just like it is for the FCD supporters too. The only difference is the Energy have one extra day of rest before our next game. If we lose it'll hurt sure, but we lost to an MLS first team. There's no shame in that, none at all. We are a USL team. The boys are damn good, don't get me wrong but there is no shame in losing to an MLS side at all. If we win then we will have taken down our second MLS team this season. That's the motivation right there.
BDS2. Which player(s) should FCD fans be paying special attention to watching who could create problems for FC Dallas on the field?
KTG: I'm to take my Grid officer/supporter hat off for a minute and put my writer hat on for this one. The players that FCD fans need to be watching because they WILL create problems are our two forwards Danni König and Kyle Greig (pronounced Greg), midfielders Sebastian Dalgaard and Chuy Sanchez and defender Michael Thomas those guys are the scoring threats. Chuy loves to pick out König, Greig and Dalgaard. and Thomas loves to come forward down that right side. We have a midfielder who comes in off the bench Peter Toth who can also create some problems too. Really anyone who is on the pitch has the potential to create problems for FC Dallas. The core of the backline is Dallas native Jacob VanCompernolle and Cody Andrews from Shawnee Kansas. These two have been solid most of the season, especially during this 7 game winning streak that the Energy are on. Every member is a threat either offensively of defensively.
BDS3. Jimmy Nielsen is well known and respected around Ameican soccer for his time in MLS. How is he doing in his first head coaching position at OKC Energy? What unique qualities does he bring from his time as goalkeeper, international ties, and experience in MLS?
KTG: Jimmy is doing a wonderful job. If you've ever had the chance to meet the man you'll see he's a great person, he really is. I think because he is so well respected as a player that it has helped him as a coach. One of the first things that I noticed is that Jimmy doesn't try to emulate one particular style of play when it comes to the Energy. Some coaches in their first coaching job, and you've probably seen this too, try to emulate what other successful coaches have done before. They try to run typeof systems the other clubs who have won championships thinking that it's a quick way to get them the success and the budget that they can then develop they system that they want to run. That was something that one of my friends, who is an assistant coach pointed out too, that Jimmy didn't do that at all. He ran his own system from the start. Jimmy calls it "Energy style." It's bits and pieces of different playing styles from all the different systems that he has played in throughout his career. It's obvious when you're watching him coach that he was thinking about a life beyond football, a life after he hung up his gloves and how he could make football a part of that life. I think some of the fans come out as much to see the boss as they do to see the boys play.
Another great quality of Jimmy's that makes him such a great head coach is that he has a built a great staff of assistants around him. He knows that he doesn't know everyone,especially here in the US. His assistants are just as responsible for the team's success as he is and I'm pretty sure he'd be the first one to tell you that too. They all three have a remarkable eye for talent. Jimmy and his assistants James Ritchie, from Glasgow Scotland, and former player now assistant coach Mark Howard, from Manchester England, spend hours training this team and I don't think that there isn't much any of them would do if they asked.
Jimmy also still has that commanding presence of a goalkeeper. Even from the sidelines you can tell that the man is use to barking out orders to his backline. He's still do the same thing but in a different capacity. He's no longer in control of what happens on the pitch.
Next up are my answers to Kevin's questions. I hope you read on and leave any feedback or additional questions down in the comments.
KTG1. How does this match affect FC Dallas as they prepare to take Colorado? How do you see the match three matches in seven days affecting the players stamina?
BDS: This is an opportunity for FC Dallas players to bounce back after 3 losses and 1 draw in their last four games which were all on the road. As the MLS team in a match against USL, the pressure will be on FCD to win, especially for the first performance in front of home fans who are frustrated. A victory tonight could give FCD the confidence bump they need to get a result this weekend in Colorado. Coversely, a loss and elimination from the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup will be completely debilitating. The club has had a rough run of form. The front office often markets USOC games as very important as an homage to the founding owner, Lamar Hunt. In case you weren't aware, the Hunt Sports Group still owns and operates FC Dallas.
The players are worn out. This will be perceived as the easiest of those 3 games in 7 days. Although the pressure to win is immense. This game will further deteriorate the players physically before Friday regardless, but a good result has the potential to lift the team's morale.
KTG2. What do you see as FC Dallas' greatest weakness going into this match?
BDS: Low confidence is the team's greatest weakness. FCD has scored 1 goal in the last 5 matches. Depth is also an issue with several players out of contention to play due to international call-ups or injury. What players remain eligible to hit the field will need to overcome exhaustion and low morale to find the creative spark. I think psychologically, this game is OKC's to lose. Energy FC come off of a 7 game winning streak compared to FC Dallas, who have not won a game since May 9th. I hope that Oscar Pareja throws some of his starters out into the game; the fanbase needs a win as much as the players do. Mauro Diaz, Fabian Castillo, and everyone in between have an opportunity to turn the tide.
KTG3. You're in Dallas and I'm in Oklahoma City and there in a huge, some would say massive, rivalry between not only our states but also our cities. Since I also have "inside" information about the team and our seven game winning streak in all competitions, I'm predicting an Energy FC victory in extra time 3-2. What is your prediction for tomorrow night's game?
BDS: This game will either be a comfortable victory or depressing failure from FC Dallas. This team doesn't do anything in the middle. Ultimately, I believe that FCD can earn the victory to progress to the 5th round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. I feel like my answers have all become pretty one dimensional, but that's because this MLS team has been playing one dimensional. The team needs a win. The tournament is named for the founder and owner of FC Dallas, so the pressure from supporters to win is as high as its ever been in 2015.
I'm going to go bold, and listen to my heart: FC Dallas wins 3-1 in a special appearance in Fort Worth this week.
Thanks again for reading, and thanks to Kevin for taking time out of his schedule to talk with us.