For the second season running, FC Dallas fell at the first hurdle in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup away to a fellow MLS club.
Both Dallas and Nashville SC rotated for this round-of-32 game, albeit the hosts more so.
Nashville made ten changes from their 3-0 win over Chicago at the weekend as only defender Lukas McNaughton kept his place. Among the players drafted in were former FCD winger Fafa Picault and Randall Leal returning from a hamstring injury that kept the Costa Rican international out since late February.
Coach Estevez only made four changes from the abandoned game against St. Louis as the Hoops also took up a 3-4-2-1 which really just played like a 4-4-2.
Jimmy Maurer got his first start of the year in goal behind Sebastien Ibeagha and Geovane Jesus. The Brazilian’s central role came as Jose Martinez serves a suspension for his red card in last year’s USOC loss to SKC, and meant a recall for Ema Twumasi at right back opposite Marco Farfan.
Farfan’s usual backup, Sam Junqua, got the start at left midfield with Sebastian Lletget also making an appearance on the flank. Edwin Cerrillo returned to the lineup to pair with Paxton Pomykal in the middle.
Tsiki Ntsabeleng got the nod to link up with Jesus Ferreira up front.
An uneventful first half saw both sides have a missed shot and not a lot else. Garry Smith used the break to go to his bench for three changes. Randall Leal’s return was only 45 minutes long, but no sign of Hany Mukhtar.
Dallas struggled to break Nashville’s press in the first half, and that caused a scare in the 50th minute as Brian Anunga forced Geovane Jesus into a poor touch that Sebastien Ibeagha was able to deal with in the box as Ethan Zubak and Fafa Picault lurked in the box.
Jesus Ferreira hadn’t seen much of the ball in the first hour of play but did come close to breaking the deadlock in the 59th minute.
Dallas advanced down the right as Ema Twumasi exchanged passes with Sebastian Lletget and Edwin Cerrillo. A neat no-look pass through the back line looking for Lletget was commandeered by Ferreira with a first-time effort inside the box that was deflected for a corner. Geovane Jesus forced the first save of the game from the set piece, finding a free header that he ought to have worked Elliot Panicco with.
Nico Estevez made his first change, bringing Alan Velasco on for Tsiki Ntsabeleng. Unfortunately for the visitors, that immediately preceded an opening goal by Fafa Picault that looked all too easy.
The former Dallas man took down a long ball from Panicco before gliding past Ema Twumasi, with the Dallas fullback seemingly losing his footing. Geovane Jesus was caught a long way up-field, leaving Sebastien Ibeagha only able to cover the angle between Picault and Zubak as Geovane and Edwin attempted to make up ground. The shot came from the corner of the box, beating Maurer low inside his far post in the 63rd minute.
Coach Estevez made a double switch in the 68th minute with Jader Obrian replacing Twumasi, and Bernard Kamungo in for Sam Junqua. The team moved into something resembling a legitimate three-man defense.
FC Dallas could have been down to ten, or even nine, men in the 75th minute. Substitute Jacob Shaffelburg broke down the left as Dallas pushed forward. Geovane Jesus – who had received a yellow card two minutes prior – brought the Nashville forward down. Shaffelburg recovered but was immediately stiff-armed by Edwin Cerrillo. Somehow Dallas got away with just a Nashville free kick on the edge of their area.
Dallas suddenly looked shaky defensively. Nashville had the ball in the net again but for an offside flag, but only seconds after Maurer pumped the ball upfield, the hosts had returned it with Alex Muyl cutting inside from the right and curling a spectacular left-footed shot around Maurer.
Another goal, another couple of Dallas subs. Amet Korca replaced Geovane Jesus and Facundo Quignon came in for an ineffective Sebastian Lletget.
Alan Velasco flashed a nice shot from distance narrowly over in his comeback game, before later picking up a yellow card for a dive in the box, but the game may serve as little more than an unnecessary 90 minutes on the already taxed trio of Marco Farfan, Paxton Pomykal, and Jesus Ferreira.
It’s a short turnaround as FC Dallas goes back on the road to Austin, who had a slightly easier night at home to New Mexico United.