FC Dallas took on OKC Energy in the fourth round of the US Open Cup. This is the third consecutive time that FC Dallas has faced off against OKC in the Lamar Hunt OSOC.
FC Dallas introduced North Texas SC’s wonderkid, Ricardo Pepi and USYNT member Brandon Servania into the starting lineup. FC Dallas played with lots of verticalities and was able to stretch the OKC players to create gaps in the field. Matt Hedges opened the scoring for FC Dallas with a header from a corner in the 11th minute. Ricardo Pepi was able to make an impact in the game as he assisted Michael Barrios’ goal to give FC Dallas the 2-0 lead.
In the second half, OKC started to find their rhythm but FC Dallas was not going to let the dominant performance that they had in the first half dwindle away. FC Dallas continued the scoring off another corner where Jesus Ferreira crossed the ball to Dominque Badji who ripped the ball into the back of the goal. Edwin Cerrillo was reintroduced to the pitch with FC Dallas as he came on for Michael Barrios. Reto Ziegler also saw time on the field as he relieved Bressan. Zdenek “The Cobra” Ondrasek made his way onto the field for Brandon Servania as there were hopes that he could find his first goal in an FC Dallas shirt. Bryan Reynolds was fouled inside the penalty box as he was making run towards goal and earned a penalty kick. Reto Ziegler calmly slotted the ball in to end the game 4-0.
Thoughts & Takeaways
There was much excitement around Ricardo Pepi not only playing in his first game with FC Dallas but also his first start.
“It was a lot of excitement,” Pepi told the media. “[I’m] thankful for FC Dallas giving me this opportunity and it was a good one.” When asked about the assist Pepi shared, “So I got the ball from Jesus [Ferreira] facing my back to the goal. I turned around and saw Barrios making a run, so I played him the ball and he was 1-v-1 and he scored.”
It wasn’t a bad showing and it was a great learning and growing experience for the young striker. Pepi did show moments of nervousness in the opening minutes but became more and more acclimated to the speed of play. The important thing is to keep giving Pepi (and any of the young players) chances and opportunities to grow. These opportunities should challenge them but not out of their abilities to grow their skill and game intelligence. Playing against a USL Championship side who was tired and had a short bench was a great chance to play Pepi.
“Obviously here, they are bigger, and they are faster and it’s a little bit more of a challenge,” Pepi said. “But everything is the same. The ball is round and it’s just humans.”
Brandon Servania made his first start in a professional competition after making his MLS debut earlier in the season. Servania played for 78 minutes and was involved in every aspect of the field.
“[I’m] a little tired (chuckles) but that’s the job that I chose, and I love it,” Servania told reporters. “Just being able to find the field and any time that I get a chance is amazing. Whether my legs are happy about it or not I’m glad that I was able to play.”
He was a typical box to box midfielder and was key in shielding the backline and helping create attacking opportunities. Servania, along with Jacori Hayes, did help with connecting the defense with the attack and helped to create a natural flow with ball movement and team shape.
Bryan Reynolds made his first FC Dallas start and played the full 90 minutes.
“I felt good to be honest,” Reynolds shared with reporters. “In the beginning, it was my first start so I was a little bit nervous. Once I touched the ball for the first time I was relaxed and played how you normally play. It was no different when you get subbed in and I had a pretty decent game.”
In previous matches, Reynolds has been used as a sub and tries to help out the team based on how the game is going. In this match, things were a little different for him.
“You have to pace yourself,” Reynolds said. “Normally when you go in there for 10 minutes you can go in flying but when you realize you have to play a full 90, or when there is a chance that you will play a full 90, as an outside back you have to conserve. I tried to conserve my energy as much as I could but also be a threat on the attack and being 100% on defense.”
It is a little difficult to have many takeaways from the game when things were as one-sided as they were against OKC. There is nothing wrong with a team executing their game plan and controlling the tempo as much as FC Dallas did. Set pieces were improvement given that two goals came from them and hopefully scoring four goals will help get the attacking going and scoring consistently.
It’s also difficult for both teams as OKC was playing their 4th game in 11 days and missing a few players while FC Dallas just finished playing San Jose on Saturday and had to travel back to Dallas. Both teams look a little tired, but FC Dallas was the more conditioned team and knew how to conserve their energy for the full 90 minutes.
FC Dallas has a week and a half before their next game against Toronto FC on June 22 at Toyota Stadium at 7:00 pm.
Featured Image: FC Dallas