FC Dallas claimed the 103rd Lamar Hunt US Open Cup title with an impressive 4-2 win in front of a rare sellout crowd Tuesday night in Frisco, Texas.
Playmaker Mauro Diaz’ footprints were all over this victory and indeed, all over the stat sheet in an incredible performance that saw the 25-year-old Argentine score one goal and assist on the other three as Dallas won its first silverware since 1997 when the club was still known as the Dallas Burn.
Tuesday night’s victory is the first tangible result for the Dallas club under the leadership of Technical Director Fernando Clavijo and coach Oscar Pareja and it has to be especially sweet for the club’s owners, the Hunt family, to finally win the U.S. Open Cup, which is of course named for family patriarch, and MLS architect/savior Lamar Hunt.
At a time when the survival of Major League Soccer was very much an open question the Hunt family owned three MLS clubs and Anschutz Entertainment owned six, so this must be an especially sweet reward for the family of Lamar Hunt.
Under Clavijo and Pareja FCD has often been held up as an example of how to build a team without going the big money/Designated Player route favored by big spenders such as the L.A. Galaxy and New York City FC.
Raising the Open Cup is vindication for the pair who have built this club by developing and playing Homegrown players like rising U.S. international Kellyn Acosta. And Clavijo and Pareja are hoping that winning the oldest competition in American sports is just the first step in what would be a triple for FCD, with the Supporters Shield and the MLS Cup still there to play for.
Pareja was seen holding up three fingers during Tuesday’s celebrations but the first leg of that triple looked somewhat unlikely when New England jumped out to a sixth minute lead at Toyota Stadium on a gem of a goal from striker Juan Agudelo.
The resurgent attacker displayed the combination of skill, strength and finishing ability that marked the Colombia-born, New Jersey raised Agudelo down as U.S. Soccer’s Next Big Thing all the way back in 2010 when the then 17-year-old scored his first goal for the U.S. MNT versus South Africa.
Agudelo scored the second Revs goal in the 73rd minute but as with Agudelo’s career between 2010 and 2016, a lot had happened in the interim. We won’t rehash Agudelo’s subsequent career tribulations here but turning back to last night, injuries to fullback Je-Vaughan Watson and in particular midfielder Gershon Koffie, played a part in scuttling New England’s challenge in between Agudelo’s two strikes.
With an injured Koffie struggling and unable to plug the gaps before taking his leave in the 42nd minute Diaz was rampant, picking apart the Revs defense and setting up Matt Hedges and Maximiliano Urruti for a pair of Dallas goals before converting a penalty kick deep into injury time after center back Hedges was held in the box.
Therefore by the time Agudelo struck for a second Revs goal in the 73rd minute, Urruti had linked up with Diaz for a second goal, meaning that the second of Agudelo’s brace only halved the New England deficit at 4-2.
That late goal sparked comeback hopes among the Revs faithful and the visitors raised their play as they pushed for more, but Dallas held firm to reverse the outcome of the 2007 U.S. Open Cup Final when New England took home the Cup with a 3-2 win at last night’s venue.
This being MLS Dallas will have little time to savor this result, in fact, the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Champions travel to New York City to face NYCFC Saturday evening with the U.S. Soccer triple very much in play.