Questions Linger After US Open Cup Elimination
The Open Cup is always weird, but even then, FC Dallas didn't impress. What gives?
On paper, the Open Cup ideally is a perfect tournament for a team like FC Dallas, an opportunity for young players to prove themselves. As a team progresses to later stages, a keen head coach can mix in more veteran players as a chance for a trophy draws nigh. But that’s easier said than done.
Is a one-and-done matchup against other MLS players the best venue to bring out a youngster without many senior-level minutes? Is it too much pressure on a group of players who don’t have a lot of experience together? Should you trust veteran guys who may be 2nd or 3rd on the depth chart instead?
It’s tough to juggle these decisions for any head coach, and add in injury issues, suspensions, and the need to manage minutes. Sigh. I don’t envy any coach in a congested schedule having to make tough decisions.
With that said, Nico Estevez acknowledged after the game that FC Dallas lacked a lot in attack.
“We had to be creative in the way we wanted to play because we’re missing a lot of players and there’s a lot of games coming up. We couldn’t force our players out there in case they got hurt so we had to be creative,” Nico said after the match. “I think on the attacking side, I’m not happy with what we did and that’s probably on me because I couldn’t communicate well what we wanted to do in attack. The players did their best but I should’ve spent more time trying to let them know how we could break them down.”
That vanishing bite and danger led to a dismal 2-0 loss in Nashville and an early exit for our boys from Frisco.
Losing in the Open Cup is hardly the end of the world, but Nico employed a bit more experienced lineup in this one. That was kind of a surprise. While the first half wasn’t so bad defensively, Nashville found enough gaps in the second half to seize momentum. Add to that the wasted effort of Jesus Ferreira being out there for 90 minutes and facing a dense number of matches ahead leads to plenty of questions.
You wonder - should Nico have given Kamungo a start? Or turned to the hot hand of Jose Mulato (coming off of a brace in his last North Texas match)?
Does a performance like this feed over into the weekend’s match where Dallas will play a hungry Austin FC side that is feeling the pressure to get their season back on track?
Or does a result like this highlight FC Dallas’ need to get one or two more additional players this summer to provide some extra attacking support?
I don’t know.
Again, I don’t envy how difficult it is to make these decisions. Nico went with his gut. He had an idea for how to confront Nashville, and in the end, Dallas came away empty-handed.
Let’s just hope we aren’t asking these same questions later in the season. Or month.
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