WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – July 31, 2009 – The season ended tonight for the 2009 Heartland Division champion Des Moines Menace. It continues tomorrow for the Chicago Fire and the Cary (N.C.) Clarets, who advanced to the Premier Development League’s semifinals with victories tonight at Valley Stadium.
The Menace’s playoff run came to a close with a 1-0 loss to Cary in front of 3,633 fans. Des Moines’ (12-2-4) only other loss came by the same score, against defending PDL champion Thunder Bay, on July 4.
Chicago extended its unbeaten streak to 10, dispatching the Ocean City (N.J.) Barons, 3-0, in tonight’s opener.
The Fire and the Clarets battle tomorrow night at 7:30 at Valley Stadium. The winner marches on to the PDL championship match, to be played on Aug. 8.
Cary’s Vince Petrasso assisted Cole Grossman in the 70th minute. Grossman’s shot from 10 yards out was enough to keep the Menace from advancing beyond the Elite Eight.
“It’s sad. A hard way to go out,” said Casey Mann after his final match as the Menace’s head coach. “I wish we had more opportunities.
“This is a great group of guys. They did everything we asked,” Mann continued. “You can see it, just looking at their faces, the tears in their eyes. They gave it their all – their energy, their passion. They played their guts out, and that’s the standard that I’m most proud of. This group was just as capable as winning the national title as any other group we’ve had here.”
Mann guided the Menace to the 2005 PDL title in his first year as the team’s coach. His five-year run in this role ends with an overall 53-21-13 record, three trips to the playoffs and two appearances in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (2005 and 2006, when the team also reached the postseason).
“I’d like to thank all of the people who’ve supported us. We’ve got the best fans in the league. Can’t thank them enough,” Mann said. “I really appreciate all the people in the community who have supported me.”
Mann’s side had its chances tonight, outshooting Cary, 14-9, including a 10-4 edge in the first half. The home team’s best opportunities came in the 37th minute, when Samuel Asante and Jacob Schmoker rifled back-to-back shots at Akira Fitzgerald. The Cary goalkeeper rose to the occasion each time and lowered his GAA to less than 0.50 with tonight’s shutout.
The Clarets improve to 12-4-3. Their playoff run also includes wins against the Mid-Atlantic Division’s top two seeds, Carolina and PDL regular-season champion Reading.
CHICAGO 3, OCEAN CITY 0: Chicago received goals from Mark Blades, Freddie Braun and Chris Cutshaw, shutting out the Northeast Division’s Elite Eight representative.
Blades dribbled through the defense in the 18th minute and struck the ball into the net.
Braun headed a ball from Andy Adlard into the upper corner of the goal in the 66th minute. Cutshaw capped off the scoring in the 76th minute, notching his sixth goal of the season.
Chicago goalie James Maurer, who was named to the all-Central Conference team earlier in the week, collected his eighth shutout.
The Fire stayed undefeated away from Toyota Park. After its ninth shutout, the Major League Soccer affiliate has outscored its opposition 39-13. The Fire has made it to the PDL playoffs each of its nine seasons and aims to return to the championship match, which Chicago lost in 2003.
Chicago (13-1-5 overall) finished second in the Great Lakes Division. The Fire’s road to the Final Four started with wins over Forest City London and Kalamazoo, the division’s regular-season champ.
Ocean City ends its season with a record of 11-5-3. The Barons made their sixth playoff appearance in the franchise’s 13 seasons. The team from New Jersey made it to the third round of this year’s U.S. Open Cup, losing 2-0 to the MLS D.C. United, which meets Seattle in the cup’s final in Sept.
The Barons knocked off previously undefeated Ottawa last Saturday, a day after opening the postseason with a win over Long Island.
MENACE'S FINAL 2009 RESULTS
(12-2-4 overall, 7-2-1 at home, 5-0-3 on the road)
Bold = home match played at 7:30 p.m. at Valley Stadium
Italics = exhibition match
# = U.S. Open Cup qualifying match
^ = Playoff match
Saturday, May 2 vs. Des Moines Latinos United W, 7-1
# Saturday, May 9 vs. Rochester Thunder W, 2-1
# Wednesday, May 13 at Springfield Demize W, 3-1
# Saturday, May 16 vs. Real Colorado Foxes W, 1-0
# Saturday, May 23 at St. Louis Lions T, 2-2
Saturday, May 30 vs. St. Louis Lions T, 2-2
Thursday, June 4 at Kansas City Brass T, 1-1
Saturday, June 6 vs. Winnipeg Lions W, 5-2
Friday, June 12 at Thunder Bay Chill T, 1-1
Saturday, June 13 at Thunder Bay Chill W, 3-1
Saturday, June 20 vs. Kansas City Brass W, 4-0
Saturday, June 27 vs. Springfield Demize W, 3-0
Sunday, June 28 at Rochester Thunder W, 1-0
Saturday, July 4 vs. Thunder Bay Chill L, 0-1
Wednesday, July 8 at Rochester Thunder W, 2-1
Saturday, July 11 vs. Springfield Demize W, 4-0
Thursday, July 16 at Kansas City Brass W, 3-2
Saturday, July 18 vs. St. Louis Lions W, 3-0
^Saturday, July 25 vs. Real Colorado Foxes W, 2-1
^ Friday, July 31, 2009 vs. Cary Clarets L, 0-1