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Menace hosts Rochester in PDL home opener

The Des Moines Menace passed its first test of the 2010 season. Next up: the team’s Premier Development League home opener.

After rallying to escape Springfield (Mo.) with a season-opening 3-1 win on Wednesday, head coach Laurie Calloway’s side hosts the Rochester (Minn.) Thunder on Saturday night at Valley Stadium. The 7:30 match is each team’s second qualifying match in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Like the Thunder, the Menace looks to pick up win No. 2 in the Open Cup standings.

The defending Heartland Division champions survived some early scares in blustery Springfield. With the wind at their backs, they went into attacking mode and turned a halftime deficit into a two-goal triumph.

Clark Bradford tied the match on a volley in the 66th minute, and Juan Hoyos put the Menace up for good in stoppage time. The Demize defense allowed an own goal one minute later, sealing the Menace’s victory.

“It’s a great feeling to win the way we did, coming from behind,” said Laurie Calloway, after coaching his first PDL regular-season match since leading the Menace in 2001 and 2002. “This is a good morale-booster for our guys.”

Calloway called Bradford’s strike a “world-class goal.” Sterling Copeland got the assist when his pass deflected off a defender, sailed high in the air and set up Bradford’s blast from 18 yards out. It provided a dose of confidence for a team that had not prevailed on several near misses.

“The way we won was good,” said Bradford, a native of England who played at Christian Brothers University in Memphis. “We made it hard on ourselves. In the end, though, I think it brought us closer together.”

As the players continue to get to know each other, they are excited to build momentum in their first regular-season match in front of their home fans.

“I think everybody’s looking forward to it, playing in front of a packed stadium,” Bradford said. “We’re going to try and go out there and keep the ball rolling, and hopefully put ourselves in a good position for the Open Cup.”

The Menace has won nine of its last 10 regular-season matches and is undefeated in 22 of its last 23.

For Saturday, the team has the services of several players who prepare for their first action of the PDL season. This list includes Drake’s Nick Foster, Hunter Kennedy and Matt Kuhn; 2009 Iowa high school player of the year Husref Jupic (Des Moines Hoover and Western Illinois); Stephen Okai (University of Mobile), a former member of Ghana’s U15 and U17 national teams; and Grand View newcomer Luis Piffer, a Brazilian who has spent the last two seasons at Marshalltown Community College.

SCOUTING ROCHESTER: Neil Cassidy’s crew started the 2010 season on the right foot, bringing home four points last weekend. Rochester opened with a 3-0 win at Real Colorado on Friday in an Open Cup qualifying match, and followed with a 1-1 draw the next night.

Bellevue University (Neb.) teammates Mark Heath-Preston and Sebastian Narvaez lead the way for Neil Cassidy’s side.

After scoring three goals last weekend and assisted Juan Chang on the team’s other score, Heath-Preston is second in the PDL with seven points. This matches his total from a year ago, when Hermann Trophy winner and MLS first-round pick Teal Bunbury was the only Thunder player with more points.

Narvaez, who tended goal for the Menace in early-spring exhibitions, carries a 0.50 Goals Against Average and 12 saves into Saturday’s match against the Menace.

Samuel Asante, one of the Menace’s points leaders last season, played a combined 74 minutes for the Thunder in its opening weekend.

Rochester finished its inaugural season at 5-9-2. That record is deceptive, as seven of the expansion club’s nine losses came by just one goal, including all three match-ups with Des Moines. The Menace swept the season series, eeking out three close wins: 2-1 at home to open the season (May 9) and 1-0 and 2-1 at Rochester (June 28 and July 8).

SEASON-PREVIEW COVERAGE:
From The Des Moines Register: "Coach Calloway joined by familiar face"
From Cityview: "Mixture of young and veteran talent looks to defend Heartland Division title"

UPCOMING PROMOTIONS: Saturday’s regular-season home opener is presented by Verizon Wireless and marks the return of the popular Diamond Dig. All ladies 18 and older have the chance to win a diamond necklace, sponsored by Charles Ganske and InFocus Partners. The Menace is giving cow bells to the first 300 fans.

After a midweek match at Kansas City (May 19), the Menace will be back in black on May 22, hosting St. Louis on “Black-Out Night.” Fans wearing black get $5 tickets.



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