WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Mark Heath-Preston scored his fourth goal in three games, lifting the Rochester Thunder to a 1-0 win over the Des Moines Menace tonight at Valley Stadium.
The Thunder (2-0-1) spoiled the Menace’s Premier Development League regular-season home opener and improved to 2-0 in the qualifying matches for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Des Moines drops to 1-1 in Open Cup qualifiers to start the season, after opening the season with a 3-1 win at Springfield (Mo.) on Wednesday.
“Obviously, this is a frustrating night,” said Laurie Calloway after his first regular-season home match as Menace head coach since 2002. “It’s tough. I don’t think the team played incredibly well, and I don’t think we got the breaks.”
Playing with a sense of urgency in the closing minutes, Calloway’s side had opportunities to tie the match. The Menace brought defender Jack Pearson up top, and the move almost paid off.
The Thunder stopped Pearson’s strike in the 88th minute, and his header in stoppage time just missed the mark, sailing high.
“It almost worked,” Calloway said of the team’s late adjustments. “Almost isn’t good enough.”
The Menace came close to tying the match in the first half. Shortly after Heath-Preston took a long ball from Ryan Sappington and drilled it past goalkeeper Jason Williams in the 32nd minute, Des Moines’ Husref Jupic intercepted a pass and nearly knotted things up.
His shot rolled inches wide of the right post. It was one of the few scoring opportunities the Menace had in the first half against Thunder goalkeeper Sebastian Narvaez, a Bellevue University (Neb.) teammate of Heath-Preston, who has allowed just one goal in three matches.
“We’re not clicking yet,” Jupic, the 2009 Iowa high school player of the year from Des Moines Hoover, said after his first regular-season action with the Menace. “We just have to get clicking. Defensively, we’re a good team. Offensively, we’re a good team – we just haven’t got it down yet.”
The teams combined for 17 fouls in this match defined by physical play. Four yellow cards were assessed following hard fouls.
Entering the match, the Menace had won nine of its last 10 regular-season games. This marks just the second loss in the team’s last 23 regular-season outings, going back to 2008.
Last season, the Menace swept the teams’ season series, winning all three matches by a single goal. This time, Rochester turned the tables and put itself in a good position to contend for the Heartland Division’s Open Cup spot in the franchise’s second season.
These teams will see each other only one more time in the regular season – June 24 at Rochester.
UP NEXT: The Menace has two more chances to pick up points in the Open Cup qualifying round. The team travels to Liberty, Mo., on Wednesday to face the Kansas City Brass. William Jewell College is the site of the 7:30 p.m. match.
The team’s fourth and final qualifier is next Saturday, against the St. Louis Lions. The Menace will be “back in black” on Black-Out Night, sponsored by Hubbell Realty and CBRE/Richard Ellis. Fans wearing black get $5 tickets. All 2010 Menace home matches start at 7:30 on Saturday nights.
Match: Menace vs. Rochester Thunder
Date: May 15, 2010
Competition: Premier Development League regular-season match
Venue: Valley Stadium, West Des Moines, Iowa
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CDT
Weather: 60s, overcast
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
MENACE 0 0 0
ROCH 1 0 1
ROCH – Mark Heath Preston (Ryan Sappington), 32nd minute
Stats Summary: MENACE / ROCH
Shots: 13 / 6
Shots on Goal: 6 / 5
Saves: 4 / 6
Corner Kicks: 4 / 5
Fouls: 7 / 10
Offside: 0 / 5
Cautions: MENACE – Kalen Ryden (50), Armin Mujdzic (77), Jacob Schmoker (80); ROCH – Samuel Asante (89)