With first place on the line, the Des Moines Menace and the Real Colorado Foxes carry three-game winning streaks into this weekend’s action in Littleton, Colo. The teams will play on Friday and Saturday at Shea Stadium, with kickoffs set for 7 p.m. MDT (8 p.m. CDT).
The first-place Menace looks to separate itself from the second-place Foxes in the Premier Development League’s Heartland Division standings. Des Moines moved into first with a 3-1 win over Kansas City last Saturday at Valley Stadium. The Menace (4-1-0, 12 points) has a one-point lead over Real Colorado (3-1-2), which has also won three straight.
“It’s going to be exciting,” Menace defender Jack Pearson said. “Hopefully, we could return with at least four points.”
The Menace hopes to keep another streak alive. The last time Des Moines lost a game on the road was on May 23, 2008, when it dropped a 2-0 decision to Colorado Rapids U23. Since then, the Menace has gone unbeaten in 16 straight road games. Des Moines is back on Colorado soil for the first time since that Rocky Mountain trip more than two years ago.
One streak Des Moines hopes to break is giving up first-half goals. In each game, the Menace has dropped down 1-0 in the first half, including an exhibition against Drake University. Des Moines has responded in nearly every game, however, outscoring opponents 8-0 in the second half.
“I think the problem is a bit of self-preparation,” Pearson said. “But we’re able to pick up a good rhythm. We’re confident we can score goals at home and on the road.”
This weekend will mark the Menace’s first action since earning the division’s bid to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Des Moines advanced on Sunday when Rochester (Minn.) played to a scoreless tie against Kansas City. The Menace finished 3-1-0 in qualifying with nine points. The Thunder could not capitalize on a 1-0 victory over Des Moines on May 15. Rochester finished 2-1-1 while finishing second in qualifying with seven points.
“It’s great for the boys and the morale,” Pearson said. “A good run in the Open Cup will be good for our team and even better for us as players.”
June is a busy month for Des Moines. It will play Real Colorado for the third straight game at Valley Stadium on June 12, then travel to St. Louis to take on the Lions the next day.
The first round of the Open Cup will take place on June 15, when the Menace hosts AC St. Louis of USSF-Division II. Should the Menace advance, the second-round game will take place on June 22.
Three days after the cup opener, Des Moines travels north to Thunder Bay, Ontario, to face the Chill in a two-game weekend set. The Menace wraps up the month with a trip to Rochester on June 24 and hosting Springfield (Mo.) on June 26.
RECAPPING LAST WEEK: After giving up a goal in the second minute, the Menace responded with three unanswered goals to take down Kansas City, 3-1, at Valley Stadium last Saturday.
Ryan Hunter put the Brass up early, but Stephen Okai delivered his first career goal with Des Moines in the 23rd minute on a strike that bounced off the far post and into the back of the net to even the score.
Once again, the Menace responded. Sterling Copeland set up captain Clark Bradford in the 49th minute for his third goal of the season, which put Des Moines up for good.
The Menace added an insurance goal in the 63rd minute, when Jubril Lawal sent a cross to Luis Piffer, who headed the ball into the net for his first career Menace goal. The Brass made a few threats in the closing minutes, as Des Moines closed out its third straight victory.
SCOUTING REAL COLORADO: This season marks only the second year Real Colorado has been a member of the Premier Development League, but the Foxes made an early statement last season.
Real Colorado went 8-5-3 and qualified for the 2009 PDL playoffs. The Foxes eliminated Thunder Bay with a 1-0 win in the first round, but were defeated by the Menace, 2-1, the next day.
Des Moines went 2-0-0 against Real Colorado last season, including the playoff win. This weekend will mark the first ever time these two teams play on Real Colorado’s home turf.
Real Colorado has not played since May 22-23, when it scored four goals in back-to-back matches to cruise to a pair of home wins against Kansas City.
Forward Craig Thompson leads the Foxes with six points, knotting a hat trick in the only half of the one game he appeared in this season. Forward Kellan Christensen and midfielder Jeffrey Jennings have five points, with Christensen appearing in only two games.
Sean Molony, the Menace’s top goalie in 2009, is one of three Foxes who have tended goal in two matches this season. Molony has allowed just one goal and made 10 saves.
Lorne Donaldson is in his second season as Real Colorado head coach.
UPCOMING PROMOTIONS: The Menace hosts Real Colorado on June 12 at 7:30 p.m. That game will celebrate Fathers’ Day, as dads will get in for just $5 with a paid admission, and Ugly Hat Night. There will also be a grill giveaway at halftime, presented by Powerade and VitaminWater.
June 12 also marks the United States’ opener in the World Cup against England, which will kick off at 1:30 p.m. The Menace will host viewing parties at Johnny’s Hall of Fame bar, 302 Court Ave. in downtown Des Moines; Legends Bar and Grill, 640 S. 50th St. in West Des Moines; and the Chicken Coop, 1960 Grand Ave. in West Des Moines. Menace players will be watching the game at each location.
ABOUT THE MENACE: The Des Moines Menace, Iowa’s Premier Soccer Team, 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.