This could be one of the most important weeks for FC Dallas this week as they take on the Houston Dynamo in the US Open Cup quarterfinals and then hit the road for a 1 vs 2 matchup against the Colorado Rapids.
Given the recent lineup rotation, the question at hand is do you rotate the lineup for one game over the other, or do you go strong for both games? Our staff gives their response to what they want to see happen this week.
Cody Gamond - Colorado is bigger
Both games are very big, but in the grand scheme of things Colorado is a bigger game and for a more important piece of silverware.
Let a few depth options start in Houston, guys who have gotten Open Cup and MLS time. Tesho for Urruti, Ulloa for Gruezo, Jesse for Seitz, David on the back 4 for anybody, and Rosales for Diaz. Nobody wants to lose to Houston, but a loss in Colorado could be the end of our Supporters Shield race.
Edin Halilovic - League over Cup
I see both games being near equals in terms of their importance and seeing as the team will only play one game over the next two weeks after these two, playing the best eleven players for both of them makes sense as they’re both vital fixtures in the chase for U.S. Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield success.
However, I’ll still go with slightly prioritizing the Colorado game over the Houston one. That doesn’t mean that I’d like to see a lineup similar to the one we saw in Seattle last week, but I don’t think that we should see the best eleven in Houston either. Guys like Jesse, David, Ulloa, and Tesho should get their chances to play and some of the big guns they’d be in for could still be available on the bench and come on if necessary, but they deserve to get their opportunities to play these matches as much as others do.
Colorado not being in the USOC anymore does play a part in why I don’t think that Pareja should field the best possible team both games because, in the event that the Houston game turns out to be anything like the USOC meeting with them two years ago that went into a grueling extra time period, then FCD will be coming off 120 tough minutes and having to play on the road again just three days later against a fresh opponent, which isn’t an ideal situation to get a result in a game as big as that one.
I think it really just depends on what side of the spectrum you are on this one and I’m not totally against playing all the best players in both games myself, but for the reasons stated above, I would prefer to see a little rotation if possible tomorrow and save the best for Saturday. I’m more interested in the pursuit for trophies than anything else so both games should be taken with the utmost seriousness and I frankly can’t wait to see how things unfold and how these results change the direction of the team’s year.
Nathan Hill - Go defensive in Houston
A couple of weeks ago, I would have been very nervous about this team figuring out how to prioritize games against Houston and Colorado, but with a sudden boost of fresh legs, I think FC Dallas can approach both games as serious priorities in their quest to earn hardware this season. Here is how I would do it:
Since Houston is home, I’d be looking for a solid defensive lineup with Jesse Gonzalez in goal, Ryan Hollingshead, Maynor Figueroa, Walker Zimmerman, and Matt Hedges on the back line, Juan Ortiz and Victor Ulloa in the middle, Michael Barrios, Carlos Lizarazo, Mauro Rosales, and Tesho Akindele as the attack. This rests key guys, like Fabian Castillo and Mauro Diaz, but still features a potent enough offense to make things happen. Coy Craft and Kellyn Acosta are also options to start if you need to work within the foreign players limit of the cup. If Zach Loyd is ready, I’d give him the chance to start as well and let Matt Hedges get a little further rest. Aubrey David could slot in as well.
Against Colorado, I’m going with Chris Seitz in goal, Maynor Figueroa, Matt Hedges, Walker Zimmerman, and Aubrey David on the back line, Carlos Gruezo and Kellyn Acosta in the middle, Mauro Diaz, Fabian Castillo, Atiba Harris, and Maxi Urruti as our attack. I like the idea of putting Atiba on the wing in this one, since he is quite familiar with playing at Colorado and might offer some nice veteran savvy in a tough place. Again, Zach Loyd, Michael Barrios, Tesho Akindele, and Victor Ulloa could also figure in to the lineup depending on how Wednesday goes.
Both lineups are damn good enough to win.
Mohammad Bushnaq - Lean towards Colorado
I will answer this question with two hypothetical responses. If it was anybody but Colorado in the weekend game, it would be an easy response to focus on the USOC match with your bitter rivals.
At the same time, if this cup match was a semifinal instead of a quarterfinal, regardless of the opponent on the weekend, I would give the semifinal the nod in terms of importance. It is not every day that you have a chance to play for a final in an important competition.
Having stated those two hypothetical scenarios, I will keep it nice and simple. This weekend’s match against the Colorado Rapids is more important than Wednesday’s USOC match against the Houston Dynamo in my most humble of opinions.