North Carolina FC to host Houston Dynamo in 2017 U.S. Open Cup

Rob Kinnan, NCFC
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Rob Kinnan, NCFC

CARY, N.C.– North Carolina FC continues its 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup run as it hosts the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer (MLS) at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park on Wednesday.

The match marks the first-ever meeting between the two clubs as North Carolina FC hopes to add another MLS club to its list of top-tier victories.

NCFC, formerly as the Carolina RailHawks, holds a 6-6 record against MLS teams in Open Cup competition, most recently earning victories over MLS clubs Chivas USA in 2014 and three-straight over the LA Galaxy from 2012-2014.

The Dynamo enter the Open Cup in the fourth round to face NCFC as its first opponent in the tournament this season.

Houston has appeared in the Open Cup 10 times and reached the semi-finals twice (2006, 2009), and are 0-1 against NASL opponents in Open Cup play after falling to the San Antonio Scorpions in 2012.

NCFC entered the 2017 tournament in the second round and defeated Carolina Dynamo 6-1, and subsequently beat the Charlotte Independence 4-1 in the third round.

The team is averaging five goals per Open Cup match and is led by Billy Schuler and Nazmi Albadawi who have each scored twice in Open Cup play this season.

Overall, NCFC has six players on the roster that have scored at least two Open Cup goals led by Brian Shriver who possesses eight Open Cup goals in his NCFC career.

Players to Watch

NCFC – #15 Christian Ibeagha

Ibeagha has played all but nine minutes during the 2017 competitive season, playing in every NASL match so far and only being subbed out during the closing stages of the team’s Open Cup win over the Carolina Dynamo.

The center back will be called upon to help stop a tough Houston attack that has scored 27 goals this MLS season.

Houston – #9 Erick Torres

Torres is an integral piece of an offensive unit that currently sits in second place in the Western Conference of the MLS.

The forward is second in the MLS in goals scored with 10 and leads the Dynamo in total shots with 44.

Torres is also second on the Dynamo in shots on goal with 16.