VETERAN DEFENDER ATIBA HARRIS KNOWS ALL ABOUT FC DALLAS’S DRIVE FOR THE U.S. OPEN CUP, BUT NOW HE’S OUT TO HURT – NOT HELP – THEIR CHANCES WITH FOURTH ROUND FOE OKC ENERGY.FRANK DELL’APAJUNE 5 2019
Competing for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup has special meaning for FC Dallas, the trophy being named for a progenitor of the club. And, after four seasons playing for FC Dallas and winning an Open Cup title, Atiba Harris has a keen understanding of its significance.But Harris is now a member of the opposition, and he will lead OKC Energy FC against FC Dallas in a Fourth Round U.S. Open Cup match at SMU’s Westcott Field on June 12.
Harris won and Open Cup in his days with FC Dallas“It’s exciting, it should be a good matchup,” said Harris, long-time captain of his native St. Kitts and Nevis national team. “My first time going back – Dallas is home away from home for me. I have a lot of friends, old teammates that are still playing. Some academy players are now professionals that I mentored a little bit. It will be fun going back and seeing faces again and seeing how they’ve improved, especially the young ones.” When it comes to competition, Harris makes it plain he has totally switched allegiances since leaving FC Dallas after the 2017 season.
NO MIXED EMOTIONS
“We are going down to win the game and advance,” said Harris, who missed out on OKC’s sensational 4-3 win over USL toppers Tampa Bay Rowdies in the Third Round. “And when the game’s over we’ll be friends again. We’ve stayed in touch over the years and that’s my team in MLS, the team I support. But when it comes to competing against each other, even competing against my own brother, that’s just automatic.” FC Dallas won the 1997 Open Cup, when the team was still known as the Dallas Burn, a year after Lamar Hunt and a group of investors initiated an experiment known as Major League Soccer (MLS). But Dallas failed to win another title until the 2016 edition of the Open Cup. “2016 was a fantastic experience,” added Harris, a veteran of 34 who’s had stints in Spain and six different MLS clubs in a 16-year career as a pro. “We went to penalty kicks with this team, Oklahoma City, then won the next round and after every victory, I remember us saying we’re one step closer and maybe we can go all the way.” FC Dallas’ 2016 cup-winning campaign started with a dramatic shootout over the Energy. Jordan Rideout opened the scoring for OKC and FC Dallas rallied on goals by Carlos Lizarazo to take a 2-1 lead into the 90th minute. Then Michael Thomas equalized for the Energy. Harris, a second-half substitute, converted a penalty kick as FC Dallas advanced 8-7 on kicks from the spot.