FRISCO, TX - AUGUST 20: Brek Shea #20 of the FC Dallas watches as Kasey Keller #18 of the Seattle Sounders FC blocks a shot on goal during the second half of a soccer game at Pizza Hut Park on August 20, 2011 in Frisco, Texas. Seattle won 1-0. (Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images)
Are you familiar enough with FC Dallas yet? If not, here's some more info about who they are and how they will play as they enter Fortress Starfire and attempt to make history. These two sides have met in the US Open Cup before with the USL Seattle Sounders being the team that came up short, but that match was at then Qwest Field. At practice today Sigi Schmid noted that both sides will treat this as an opportunity to show that they are the dominant team after two close matches in league play. He also said that the recent game does make editing film easier.
To make it easier for you here are three questions with Big D Soccer to help you get ready for Tuesday night's 7PM start.
SaH: How serious would you expect FC Dallas to take this chance to make a Cup Final?
BDS: Given the fact that FC Dallas doesn’t have a meaningful game for another week and a half after this, you’re getting Dallas absolute best shot tomorrow. It’s been a long, long road for FC Dallas who will be playing their 6th game in the last 18 days, but after tomorrow things finally settle down. Given the fact that Dallas hasn’t won a trophy in 15 years and given the caliber of opponent waiting in the final, I’d think they’ll leave it all out on the field.
SaH: Will the defense immediately be better because George John is not going to Blackburn, or has he missed too much training to start?
BDS: Yes, the defense will be exponentially better. They’ve let in 3 horribly sloppy goals in the 3 games John missed and he will surely slot back into the starting lineup next to Ugo Ihemelu tomorrow night. With those two, it’s not really a problem to miss a week of training as they have such an understand of each other. It will be very interesting to see how John plays tomorrow night and if he comes out with a fire lit or if he is lethargic.
SaH: How does Dallas play on a smaller pitch?
BDS: It’s tough to say for sure, but Dallas is a team that likes to clog the middle of the field and attack down the wings. It could be a disadvantage for Dallas if players like Brek Shea and Marvin Chavez are more easily marked, but I think it will help Dallas defensively as the back four has a tendency to struggle when they’re stretched across a wide field. Set pieces will be absolutely essential to the success of either team on the smaller field
Incidentally both Shea and Loyd will join up with the USMNT in California after the game.
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BDS: For the fans that don’t know, tell them a little bit about how Seattle has ruled the open cup the last few years.
SaH: Seattle's love affair with the US Open Cup probably goes back to 2007. Now, slow down a bit, we know that the USL Sounders and MLS Seattle Sounders are different, but not quite. The GM and ownership groups are certainly related. The star players from the 07/08 run were the same that made that run for Seattle in 2009. Once it was clear that the winner of the Open Cup would qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League, and Seattle could make a deep run on a regular basis the whole squad bought into the tournament. Five straight years in the semis has helped it develop even bigger, and Tuesday night will have one of the two local radio stations broadcasting their afternoon drive show during pre-game.
BDS: What kind of lineup will we see from the Sounders tomorrow, is this going to be a top priority match?
SaH: Seattle is so deep right now that calling any lineup a "First" team is a little crazy. Just at left mid the choice is between Lamar Neagle (6 goals, 2 assists in all competitions) and Alvaro Fernandez (8 goals, 4 assists) both with more than 20 appearances. Brad Evans and Patrick Ianni are both healthy and able to start (as of Tuesday's practice) which makes the spine even deeper. Like FC Dallas, the Sounders have a long break after this match so they may push a player a little harder than they would if it was another week of two matches.
BDS: How have the Sounders played at Starfire and what are the differences between this field and CenturyLink(Qwest)?
SaH: Starfire plays smaller, particularly narrower. The actualy measurements are greatly different, but the proximity of signage and the crowd make it play like that. In the three seasons with the MLS Sounders playing Open Cup and Reserve Games at Starfire they are now
17-0-0 (5 against non-MLS teams) with 44 goals for and 12 against14-0-0 with a +24 GD. They know this pitch, and their success on it has lead to the past two seasons Player of the Open Cup being from the Sounders. They plan for success on that field, and the team loves playing there in the tight space with passion of the crowd directly on top of them.