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Menace keeps Open Cup hopes alive

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Logan McDaniel and Lebogang Moloto scored back-to-back goals to lead the Des Moines Menace to a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Lions tonight at Valley Stadium. The come-from-behind triumph keeps the Menace’s hopes alive for a berth in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Des Moines (3-1-0 in the Premier Development League) ended a scoring drought on its home turf, after dropping a pair of 1-0 games each of the past two Saturdays.

“First goal, first win – Monkey off our backs,” said Menace head coach Laurie Calloway of his team’s first success in front of the home fans.

In its final Open Cup qualifier, the Menace reached nine points to pull into first place for the Heartland Division’s bid.

Though they’re out of the running for their third-straight Open Cup appearance, the Lions (0-2-0) can play spoilers tomorrow, when they travel to play Rochester (Minn.). The second-place Thunder trails Des Moines by three points, but has the upper hand after topping the Menace, 1-0, a week ago. Rochester’s final qualifier comes May 30 against Kansas City, one day after the Brass plays at Valley Stadium.

The Menace bounced back from a slow start tonight. St. Louis (0-2-0) scored in the 24th minute, when Aaron Brittain set up Brian Harris for a 1-0 lead.

McDaniel answered in the 53rd minute with a shot that struck the cross-bar and broke the plane. Play continued for a few seconds, until an assistant referee signaled the goal.

Just two minutes later, the Menace used a counter-attack to break the tie. After Menace goalkeeper Billy Thompson stifled a corner kick, Stephen Okai delivered a long ball to set up Moloto. St. Louis goalie Nathan Thackeray came out of the goalkeeper’s box to challenge Moloto, who pushed the ball to his right and rolled the ball into the net.

It was the second game-winner for Moloto this week. On Wednesday, he propelled the team to a 2-1 win at Kansas City.

“It’s awesome,” said the South African who goes by “Tsunami.” “It’s a great feeling. First of all, it’s big to get the first home win for our fans.”

One year after St. Louis rallied against the Menace to earn 2-2 draws in consecutive matches in May, the Lions nearly pulled it off again. In the closing minutes of regulation, they threatened with a shot that ricocheted off the field-goal post just above the cross-bar. In stoppage time, another shot rolled inches past the right post.

“It’s a good result,” Calloway said. “We’ve done a lot of work; we’ve still got a lot to do. Our goal next week is a shutout. I hate giving up goals. To me, it’s an area we’ve got to tighten up.”

Des Moines has dug itself into a 1-0 hole in the first half of each game this season, including its May 8 exhibition against Drake University.

The Menace has won two straight games against St. Louis. The 2009 Heartland Division champions closed the regular season with a 3-0 thumping of the Lions – their first-ever home win over Tony Glavin’s crew.

These rivals are even in their series history. Each team has won three times, and the other six matchups have ended in draws. The Menace and the Lions will see each other on June 13 at St. Louis and wrap up the regular season back here on July 24.

COMING UP: The Menace returns to Valley Stadium next Saturday (May 29), hosting the Kansas City Brass. The 7:30 p.m. match is presented by Sheraton West Des Moines, and the first 500 fans receive a free koozie from the official hotel of the Menace.

Match: Menace vs. St. Louis Lions
Date: May 22, 2010
Competition: Premier Development League regular-season match; qualifier for Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
Venue: Valley Stadium, West Des Moines, Iowa
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CDT
Attendance: 3,459
Weather: 70s, windy

Scoring Summary:     1   2   F
MENACE                       0   2   2
StL                               1   0    1

MENACE – Logan McDaniel 53; Lebogang Moloto (Stephen Okai) 55
StL – Brian Harris (Aaron Brittain) 24

Stats Summary: MENACE / StL
Shots: 12 / 7
Shots on Goal: 6 / 5
Saves: 4 /4
Corner Kicks: 8 / 2
Fouls: 9 / 11
Offside: 1 / 0

Misconduct Summary: StL Yellow Cards: Brian Harris 23; Dan Meagher 45; Tyler Schaefering 74; Aaron Brittain 75; MENACE Yellow Cards: Logan McDaniel 48

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