Although the match was a reversal of the league result on the weekend in Utah, it was a night in which trends won out as FC Dallas blanked the visiting Real Salt Lake side 2-0 in the Quarterfinals, booking their seventh trip to the US Open Cup Semifinals. Jair Benitez and Jackson scored in the win as they advance to play the winner of the remaining Quarterfinal between Los Angeles Galaxy and Seattle Sounders.
The leaders in Quarterfinal appearances in the Professional Era with 12, and an unbeaten record at home (9-0-1) all-time versus Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas looked the more comfortable side in the match from the beginning. The first-time Quarterfinalists found themselves trailing after just 18 minutes, when Benitez curled a perfectly-placed free kick into the upper corner from 25 yards out. It was his first goal of the season in all competitions.
Just before the break, an FC Dallas corner resulted in a play that could have created plenty of post-game controversy had the visitors rallied for a different result. George John headed down to the near post from just outside the six, and the ball bounced up into what appeared to be, on replays, the arm of Ned Grabavoy, who was defending the goalline. The ball dropped down in front of the line where backup goalkeeper Kyle Reynish gathered it.
RSL had a quality chance to equalize in the first minute of the second half, when Tony Beltran went to fire from eight yards only to see Zach Lloyd appear at the last second to block the shot.
In the 53rd minute it was Fabian Espindola looking to level when he curled a shot from the right corner of the penalty area that went inches wide of the far post.
The miss proved critical, as less than a minute later Dallas doubled the advantage on the counter. Midfielder Eric Alexender found Jackson behind the defense, sending him in on goal. Facing goal, Jackson lifted the bouncing ball from 19 yards up over Reynish to match Saturday’s 2-0 scoreline.
Jackson, who had a goal and an assist in the club’s thrilling 3-2 Third Round win against USL’s Orlando City, nearly added a third tally to his career Open Cup account in the 61st minute, when an acute angle five yard shot that was two yards from the end line skimmed across the mouth of the goal.
Collen Warner nearly brought the visitors new life in the 73rd minute, with a shot from distance that smashed off the crossbar and bounced right in front of the goalline, dashing RSL’s hopes of a comeback.
Jackson continued to be a threat as time ticked away, keeping RSL on their heels. In the 81st minute, he sent a ball to Brek Shea in the box, but the striker’s shot on the bounce was blocked point-blank by Jamison Olave at that last moment.
The shutout would hold for Kevin Hartman. It was the first time Dallas blanked its opposition in the tournament since defeating the Chicago Fire in the 2005 Semifinals, going 10 games without a clean sheet in between.
The upcoming trip to the Semifinals is the club’s seventh. Only the Chicago Fire and DC United have reached the Final Four on more occasions (8 each) with the Galaxy also capable of reaching a seventh pending Wednesday’s contest in Tukwila, Wash. Dallas will play host to the Semifinal match with a Galaxy win, but will have to travel to play the defending two-time champion Sounders at Starfire should LA fall.
TheCup.us Match MVP: Jackson
Full match archive (FCDallas.com)
DAL – Jair Benitez 18
DAL – Jackson (Eric Alexander) 54
RSL – Fabian Espindola (caution; reckless foul) 14
DAL – Jair Benitez (caution; dissent) 37
RSL – Jamison Olave (caution; reckless foul) 40
DAL – Zach Loyd (caution; reckless foul) 45+
DAL – Andrew Wiedeman (caution; delay of game) 87
FC Dallas –- Kevin Hartman, Zach Loyd (Andrew Wiedeman 68), George John, Ugo Ihemelu, Jair Benitez, Eric Alexander, Bruno Guarda, Eric Avila, Ricardo Villar (Brek Shea 64), Bobby Warshaw, Marvin Chavez (Jackson 45).
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Seitz, Milton Rodriguez, Peri Marosevic, Daniel Hernandez.
Real Salt Lake –- Kyle Reynish, Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert (Collen Warner 58), Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy (Arturo Alvarez 58), Will Johnson, Andy Williams, Fabian Espindola (Jean Alexandre 66), Luis Gil.
Substitutes Not Used: Tim Melia, Robbie Russell, Chris Schuler, Jean Alexandre, Collen Warner, Nelson Gonzalez, Arturo Alvarez.
Referee: Michael Kennedy
Referee’s Assistants: Jonathan Johnson, Adam Garner
4th Official: Matthew Foerster
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 97 degrees