The Breakdown – FC Dallas at Tampa Bay Rowdies, USOC

FC Dallas continues to be “all-in” on the US Open Cup and as an old-school soccer fan that warms my heart. For the Round of 16, Dallas traveled to Tampa Bay to face the Rowdies of the USL Championship and they came away with the 2-1 win.

And from the bottom of my heart, thank you to the Hunts for respecting the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and entering their first team. The MLS money grabbers and lame clubs that chose to enter their reserves can go fly a kite.

Long live the Cup.

“The first thing to say is that it’s been since 2017 that FC Dallas qualified for the quarterfinals (of the U.S. Open Cup). This is an improvement for sure. We’re happy with advancing after many years of the team not advancing to this round.”

FC Dallas Coach Nico Estevez

Lineups and Tactics

Coach Nico Estevez rolls with his 3-4-2-1 with 8 players out. The additions to the missing pieces list were Peter Musa – who was out for the birth of his kid, Logan Farrington started in his place – and Ema Twumasi – who picked up a knock against Houston, Herbert Endeley took his spot.

Tsiki Ntsabeleng, much to my disappointment, stepped into Nolan Norris‘ position in midfield.

The FC Dallas XI at Tampa Bay Rowdies in the 2024 US Open Cup. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
The FC Dallas XI at Tampa Bay Rowdies in the 2024 US Open Cup. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

The nightmare happens and Jesus Ferreira has to come off 27 minutes into the game with some kind of injury/knock/discomfort. Sebastian Lletget took his place.

60th minute, a double sub that again seems planned. Asier Illarramendi and Dante Sealy replace Patrickson Delgado and Endeley.

78th minute, Omar Gonzalez comes on for Sebas Ibeagha and Carl Sainte replaces Ntsabeleng.

Tampa Bay with the 3-5-2 starting three DTID club members. Former 1st-Round draft pick Cal Jennings and two former Homegrowns on the back line captain Aaron Guillen and former Pony Eddie Munjoma.

Tampa ay Rowdies XI vs FC Dallas in the 2024 US Open Cup. (Courtesy Tampa Bay Rowdies)
Tampa ay Rowdies XI vs FC Dallas in the 2024 US Open Cup. (Courtesy Tampa Bay Rowdies)

65th minute, Coach Robbie Neilson brings on two changes, Daniel Crisostomo and Nick Moon for Damian Rivera and Charlie Dennis.

Then in the 76th, a bit of a headscratcher as the primary danger man Cal Jennings comes off for Cristian Michael Ortiz.


1-0 FC Dallas goal. 15th minute. The short corner by Ferreira actually works. It starts with a (slightly sloppy) give-and-go between Ferreira and Ntsabeleng. Ferreira then lays off atop the box to Patrickson Delgado for a blistering cracker of a goal.

2-0 FC Dallas goal. 26th minute. Ntsabeleng plays forward to Ferreira who heads the ball down to Endeley. Endeley takes a touch and lays the ball across the top of the box to Logan Farrington. The Beaverine takes a touch to set up his left foot and fires back post. A well-built team goal.

“The way I saw the play, someone knocked it down to Herbert (Endeley) and he found me in space. I took my touch and took my shot off towards the bottom corner. Glad I was able to tuck it past the keeper.”

Logan Farrington

2-1 Tampa Bay Rowdies goal. 85th minute. It’s a bit harsh perhaps but the correct call as Carl Sainte steps on wingback Pacifique Niyongabire’s foot to give up a PK. Joshua Perez converts the free one.

I couldn’t find a clip of the PK. *sad face*

Lo Bueno

My Man of the Match was Maarten Paes. The official stats say he made 8 saves – officially tying a career-high – but hell it might even be 9 or 10 as I’ve seen that many listed as being “on target” depending on your stat source. Just another top-tier phenomenal performance by FCD’s Dutch keeper, sorry, Indonesian keeper.

“Sometimes you have those days where you feel invincible and nothing goes past you. I was a little mad at the (PK) call because it took away my clean sheet and I want to reward myself with that.”

Maarten Paes to Garrett Melcer, postgame.

This is the 17th time FCD has advanced to the Quarterfinals, which ties them for the most Quarters in Cup history with Kutis Soccer Club (from St. Louis area). Stat courtesy

Great performance by Sebastian Lletget off the bench. Loved seeing him get that kind of minutes, FCD needs him healthy.

Strong showing by Logan Farrington who I thought looked the part of a 9. He drops back a little more than Petar Musa, a bit of the ole false-9 or wing in him. I’m ok with that varied attack. It keeps defenses off balance if you mix up the runs and angles.

“It feels great to always get a goal, especially to double our lead early in the game. That was our game plan, get out early, get a couple of goals and seal the game off.”

Logan Farrington
Logan Farrington takes his game-winning shot against the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the 2024 US Open Cup, May 22, 2024. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
Logan Farrington takes his game-winning shot against the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the 2024 US Open Cup, May 22, 2024. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

I love the FCD shot ratio of 5 of 7 shots on target. They got two goals on the first two shots. This is prototypical Coach Nico FCD, low volume shots but high efficiency.

Camino del Medio

The Rowdies came out super hot and could have gone up 3-0 in the first 90 seconds it felt like. Thankfully Maarten Paes was ready and kept the score sheet clean so FC Dallas could wake up.
“[We]didn’t come into the game with the right intensity. Tampa did,” said Coach Estevez.

Did you know this was FCD’s first road win of the season? Yeah, road win!! But perhaps that’s an indictment of the season, that the first road win came in May against a USL Championship team.

Muy Feo

30 shots allowed is bonkers. But we know that FCD does a nice job of keeping shot from distance and from wide angles, aka low-percentage shots. Paes being a big shot-stopper, this is a good strategy. Still, 30 shots is an insane volume with 10 on target, three-hit posts, and an additional four blocked by defenders. Tampa averages 3 goals a game this season so keeping them out, other than the PK, is strong. But giving a USL side 30 shots is still concerning. As my friend Peter Welpton says, “Anytime your keeper is Man of the Match week after week, it’s not good.”

“I thought we were absolutely outstanding. I thought we totally dominated the game. It’s probably the best we’ve played since I’ve been here. We took thirty shots, which is the most we’ve had all season. We just didn’t seem to convert those chances.”

Rowdies Head Coach Robbie Neilson

I’m not happy with how we performed. But I know how difficult Cup games are, how difficult the travel is, the heat and humidity – it’s tough. We made mistakes and gave the ball away too early. We didn’t manage the game well. For that you need experience and quality and some of the players today were young and without experience and they had difficulties in those moments.”

FCD Coach Nico Estevez

Obviously, the big concern from the game is the health of Jesus Ferreira. Leaving after 27 minutes makes me quite concerned. Coach Estevez didn’t exactly ally our fears, “We’ll have to do some tests on Jesús. We don’t know if it’s a cramp or if it was something that he felt. We don’t really know. We’ll know probably tomorrow or Friday.”

I wish some in the “media” would take the Cup as seriously as they do the regular season. It’s quite noticeable the difference. The most glaring example is on the stats front. MLS doesn’t post them and neither do any of the normal stat sources I use like fbref or whoscored.

Instant Reaction – 3 Things

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *