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What we’re watching for as FC Dallas begins their US Open Cup journey

We know the Open Cup is important to the club but how will Nico Estevez handle the quick turnaround?

MLS: FC Dallas at New York Red Bulls Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas has a quick turnaround tomorrow night as they host FC Tulsa in the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.

Instead of doing a deeper dive into the draw in New York from over the weekend, I figured I would jump ahead to what is next on the calendar with the USOC. Here are some topics that I will be keeping a watch out for tomorrow as FCD welcomes in the USL-Championship side from Oklahoma.

To rotate or not to rotate

This is the first time in 2022 and under new manager Nico Estevez that we will see how the club responds to a quick turnaround between games. On Saturday, the club played to a pretty tough and physical scoreless draw in New York and this coming Saturday they’ll have to contend with their top rivals in the Texas Derby.

We haven’t seen too many injuries pop up so far this season, which is good for a heavy week like this. Part of me wants to see the same group we’ve had out the last couple of games go at it in this one to figure out the offense a bit more. But the other part of me would also like to see some key players rested to use them this weekend against Houston.

Paxton Pomykal mentioned in the post-game press conference in New York that the team will do what they can between that game and tomorrow’s to rest as much as possible but that whoever needs to step up on Tuesday will need to be ready.

So looking around the roster, you have to ask yourself if you save a guy like Matt Hedges or Jose Martinez for this game. Does Franco Jara get a run up top over Jesus Ferreria? Does Pomykal get some rest and come off the bench late in the game?

International limits

So there has to be some sort of rotation in this game, right? I would estimate there will be some key spots when you have to factor in the international player limit in this tournament (it is five internationals on the game-day roster). Once your figure out which five internationals to include in the roster, everything else should take shape pretty quickly here.

One obvious area to save an international would be in goal with Maarten Paes earning a well-deserved break in the favor of Jimmy Mauer. You could also bring up Antonio Carrera from North Texas to serve as his backup.

Nanu missed last weekend’s game in New York and I’d be tempted to just continue holding him out of this one if he is fit again. That allows more play from Ema Twumasi, which has been pretty solid this season. I wouldn’t mind seeing newcomer Joshué Quiñónez earn some minutes in this one either, as we did see him on the bench last weekend.

Possibly saving Alan Velasco for a game would be a smart move as well. This could give Kalil ElMedkhar a chance to start and earn more minutes than what we’ve seen him get off the bench so far. On the other hand, I know a lot of us would like to see Szabolcs Schön earn some minutes too.

Gaging the importance of the tournament

To say that this is still an important tournament for FC Dallas may be an understatement. It still brings some historic significance and extra eyes to the club anytime they make a deep run in it. Not to mention the automatic Champions League spot that gives you if you win it all too.

We haven’t really seen what Estevez is like in these situations though, so it will be interesting to see exactly how much he ‘goes for it’ or not. Talking about how important the Cup is to the club is one thing, but actively putting a good roster out and not disappointing is an entirely different thing.

My gut tells me he will put the right amount of effort in this one tournament run as those who have coached here before him. In a way, that is all we can really ask for here of him too.