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Several key members return to the Des Moines Menace this season, after helping the team reach the Elite Eight of the 2009 Premier Development League playoffs.

Head coach Laurie Calloway welcomes back nine players from last year’s 11-1-4 squad that swept the Heartland Division’s regular-season and playoff championships.

Veterans Ross Moffat and Armin Mujdzic, former teammates at Grand View University, are the most experienced members on the list of returners.

They won’t be the only local ties back from last year’s division champs. Nick Foster, Hunter Kennedy and Michael Thaden are also in the mix. Before joining Calloway’s side, the trio from Drake University will compete with their Bulldogs teammates against the Menace on May 8 at Valley Stadium. The preseason exhibition is a matchup of two Elite Eight teams from last year, when Drake came within one win of the College Cup (NCAA Final Four).

The other members from last year’s team who have committed to play for Des Moines are Sterling Copeland, Yuki Kariya, Jack Pearson and Jacob Schmoker.

Combined, this group of nine played 98 matches and scored 18 of the team’s 37 goals a year ago.

“I’m excited to meet the returning players, all of whom played a big part on last year’s successful team,” said Calloway, who is back for his third season with the Menace, after leading the team to the PDL playoffs in 2001 and 2002. “However, they’re going to have to fight for roster spots, as we have a lot of new talent reporting for the season.”

In the weeks leading up to the May 8 opening-night clash with Drake, the Menace will announce the other players coming into camp.

Calloway and his assistant coach, Neathan Gibson, have reunited after leading the Menace to the league’s 2002 regular-season title. They plan on deciding the final 26-man roster a couple weeks into the season, after the team’s four Open Cup qualifiers.

The Menace opens the regular-season at Springfield (Mo.) on May 12 and hosts Rochester (Minn.) on May 15. All of the team’s 2010 home matches start at 7:30 on Saturday nights at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines.


Player Capsules:


Ross Moffat

Position: Midfielder
College: Grand View
Hometown: Clydebank, Scotland
With the Menace: This is Moffat’s sixth season with the Menace. In his first year with Des Moines, he helped the team win the 2005 PDL championship.

Armin Mujdzic
Position: Forward
College: Grand View
Hometown: Urbandale
With the Menace: After playing for the team from 2002-2007, Mujdzic came back to the Menace in June 2009. He tallied at least one point in each of his first five matches back, and he earned PDL Player of the Week honors after scoring the game-winning goal at Thunder Bay on June 13. His five goals in 10 games paced the team.

Nick Foster
Position: Midfielder/Defender
College: Drake
Hometown: West Des Moines
With the Menace: Foster made eight appearances and played 400 minutes for the Menace in 2009.

Hunter Kennedy
Position: Forward
College: Drake
Hometown: Cedar Rapids
With the Menace: The former Iowa High School Player of the Year (2008, Cedar Rapids Washington) made an impact late in 2009, notching all seven of his points in the final four regular-season matches.

Michael Thaden
Position: Midfielder
College: Drake
Hometown: West Des Moines
With the Menace: Thaden was on the Menace’s roster in 2008 and 2009. He appeared in three early-season games last season before he was sidelined by an injury.

Sterling Copeland
Position: Forward
College: Oral Roberts
Hometown: Westminster, Colo.
With the Menace: Copeland’s nine points were third on the 2009 team. He scored two of his three goals in the Menace’s 4-0 win over Kansas City on June 20.

Yuki Kariya
Position: Midfielder
College: Auburn-Montgomery
Hometown: Osaka, Japan
With the Menace: Kariya notched seven points in 10 games a year ago. He scored two goals – both in the first half of the 3-2 win at Kansas City on July 16.

Jack Pearson
Position: Defender
College: Dayton
Hometown: Coventry, England
With the Menace: Pearson led the Menace’s position players in minutes (1,438) last season. He notched two goals and two assists, and he earned a spot on the PDL Team of the Week in early July.

Jacob Schmoker
Position: Midfield
College: Fort Lewis (Colo.)
Hometown: Catoosa, Okla.
With the Menace: Schmoker was a staple in the middle of the field for the 2009 Menace, logging 1,223 minutes in 17 matches.


Click here to see the Menace's 2010 schedule.

ABOUT THE MENACE:
Preparing for its 17th season as Iowa’s Premier Soccer Team, the Des Moines Menace is the 2009 Organization of the Year for the 68-team Premier Development League (PDL), the highest amateur level of the United Soccer Leagues (USL). The Menace plays its home matches in a fun, family-friendly environment at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines.

 



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