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FC Dallas, Where It Must be the Money

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FC Dallas opens play in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tonight at 7 at Pizza Hut Park way the hell up in Frisco. The news is that the Hoops will play their starters rather than their reserves, as is the tradition for most MLS clubs that compete in the cup. The cup is open to all amateur and professional teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer (40 teams this year), but because it falls in the middle of the MLS season, it’s common for MLS clubs to keep their stars out of the tournament.

So why isn’t FC Dallas following suit? Maybe it has something to do with money. The winner of the tournament gets $100,000.

“It’s a big cup competition,” Hoops coach Steve Morrow told Al Dia. “I want to win and get my bonus.”

And maybe a win in a tournament setting will go a ways towards helping a team that, despite strong regula-season performances pretty much year in and year out, tends to implode when it really counts (which seems to have become the defining characteristic of all Dallas pro teams).

If Dallas does indeed play its starters tonight, that’s good news for the fans. Too bad U.S. soccer couldn’t do the same in this year’s Copa America, which is going on now in Venezuela. Fresh off winning the Gold Cup (which is for all national teams in North America) and again embarrassing Mexico, the U.S. sent a squad of inexperienced reserves to the Central and South America championship tourney, which is too bad, because winning Copa America means a hell of a lot more than winning the Gold Cup.

Surprisingly, and to the delight of Tricolor fans, Mexico is playing well, and has a chance to win the whole thing. The U.S. lost all of its matches in embarrassing fashion.

So why didn’t the U.S. bring its stars to the tournament, to take on the likes of world powers Brazil and Argentina? Probably because they couldn’t, says SI.com soccer scribe Grant Wahl. As a guest team, the U.S. “couldn't force its European-based players' clubs to release them, and once the decision was made to prioritize the CONCACAF Gold Cup this was more or less what we should have expected.”

If that ain’t enough soccer news for you, check out this beautiful goal from Freddy Adu in the U-20 World Cup. Yes, that’s another soccer tournament going on now. It’s a wonder MLS functions as it does. --Jesse Hyde

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