When it comes to awards, sometimes you just have to pick the best player from the best team. FC Dallas playmaker Mauro Diaz was comfortably voted TheCup.us Player of the Tournament for the 2016 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
With two goals and five assists, Diaz became the first FC Dallas player and the first Argentine to earn Player of the Tournament honors. He is also just the third player to win that award and Player of the Round in the Final; the others were the Chicago Fire’s Andy Herron in 2006 and the New England Revolution’s Pat Noonan in 2007.
The Player of the Tournament award is voted on by the staff at TheCup.us and a select panel from the North American Soccer Reporters. Diaz was included on almost every ballot and won by a sizable margin with David Accam (Chicago Fire) and TheCup.us Lower Division Player of the Tournament winner Diego Restrepo (Fort Lauderdale Strikers) finishing tied for second place.
Diaz secured the latter honor with a stellar five point performance (one goal, three assists) in his team’s comprehensive 4-2 win over the New England Revolution in this year’s final. He also won Player of the Round for the Semifinals when he assisted on the equalizer and the game-winner in the final seconds against the Los Angeles Galaxy. Between those two games alone, he racked up five assists, tying the Modern Era (1995-present) single-tournament record set by Diego Serna of the Miami Fusion in 2000.
The diminutive No.10 for arguably the best team in MLS this season started and went the distance in his side’s Round 4 and Round 5 matchups, scoring a penalty in the shootout in the former against Oklahoma City Energy (USL) and the equalizer in the latter against the Colorado Rapids (MLS). He started in the quarterfinals against rivals Houston Dynamo and almost went the distance before being subbed off in second half stoppage time to help kill time after Dallas took the lead late. In the semifinals, Diaz started and provided the assist on the 116th minute equalizer and the stoppage time winner against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Diaz saved his best performance for last, breaking the US Open Cup Final record (Modern Era) for most assists (3) and most points (5, one goal and three assists).
“Mauro’s performance tonight was what he has done – it’s a collection of what he’s done here this year,” head coach Oscar Pareja told MLSsoccer.com after the Final. “Mauro showed the heart of this club and he showed the heart of his teammates tonight.”