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Menace hosts Foxes, begins busy stretch

The Des Moines Menace is back at home on Saturday, opening a stretch of five matches in eight days:
-       Saturday, June 12 vs. Real Colorado Foxes at Valley Stadium (7:30 p.m.)
-       Sunday, June 13 at St. Louis Lions (5 p.m.)
-       Tuesday, June 15 vs. professional team AC St. Louis at Valley Stadium (7:30 p.m.)
-       Friday, June 18 at Thunder Bay Chill (7:30 p.m. EDT)
-       Saturday, June 19 at Thunder Bay Chill (7:30 p.m. EDT)
Tuesday’s match – the Menace’s third in four days – is one of 16 first-round match-ups in the 2010 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Des Moines makes its fifth appearance (2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006) in the 97-year-old national tournament, which is open to all amateur and professional teams affiliated with the United States Soccer Federation.
The Menace (4-1-2, 14 points) sits atop the Premier Development League’s Heartland Division, one point above second-place Real Colorado (3-1-4, 13 points). Des Moines is undefeated in five straight matches; Real Colorado has not lost since a season-opening setback.
One week after these teams battled to a pair of draws in Littleton, Colo., they know they’ll need to win in order to not be passed by the division’s other teams. St. Louis (4-2-0) trails Real Colorado by one point and Rochester (3-2-2) is a point behind the Lions.
“I think this is a crucial game,” Menace captain Clark Bradford said. “We need to win. We need to get the ball rolling. It’s important to take each game as it comes, to get the job done, then move on.”
Bradford, who leads Des Moines with three goals, said Saturday’s match couldn’t come at a better time. The Menace and the Foxes take the pitch just hours after the anticipated battle between the United States and England in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Bradford. “It’s special for me, being English and living in America. It’s definitely good for U.S. soccer as a whole. Hopefully, (the U.S.) will do well; I’m just hoping they don’t beat England. And, hopefully, fans around here will watch the game then come out to cheer us the same day.”
Bradford is one of the team’s five English citizens. Teammates Sam Brooks, Sam Morris and Jack Pearson also hail from England; so does Menace head coach Laurie Calloway.
This year’s roster features players who represent seven of the 32 countries in the World Cup: Brazil, England, Ghana, Japan, Nigeria, host country South Africa and the United States.
More than 30 countries have been represented by Menace players in the franchise’s 17-year history.
RECAPPING LAST WEEK: The first-place Menace was unable to distance itself from the second-place Foxes. The teams tied 2-2 on Friday and 0-0 on Saturday at Shea Stadium in Littleton, Colo.
Des Moines rallied from a 2-0 halftime deficit in the opener, thanks to headers from Jack Pearson and Logan McDaniel. Clark Bradford assisted Pearson in the 52nd minute; Sterling Copeland set up McDaniel’s equalizer in the 73rd minute.
The Menace earned another point the following night, despite playing a man down the entire second half. Copeland was issued a red card in the 43rd minute when he made a rough slide.
The back-to-back draws extended the Menace’s road unbeaten streak to 18, dating back to May 2008.
SCOUTING REAL COLORADO: The Foxes have a chance to take first place from the Menace on Friday. A victory at Rochester (Minn.) would give Real Colorado two more points than Des Moines. Rochester – the only team to beat the Foxes in 2010 – could earn a share of first place with a win.
Craig Thompson, a Littleton native and former Major League Soccer player, leads the Foxes with six points, thanks to a hat trick in the only 45 minutes 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 this season. After allowing a pair of Menace goals last Friday, Molony has a 1.00 Goals Against Average.
Real Colorado went 8-5-3 as an expansion team last season, qualifying for the 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 is 2-0-2 all-time against the Foxes, including the playoff win at Valley Stadium.
Lorne Donaldson is in his second season as Real Colorado head coach.
SCOUTING ST. LOUIS: The Lions bring a four-match winning streak into tonight’s match at Kansas City.
Dan Meagher paces the team with seven points; Jarius Holmes and Tad Kreamalmeyer each have five points.

The Menace has won two straight games against St. Louis. Des Moines rallied past the Lions for a 2-1 win at Valley Stadium on May 22, thanks to back-to-back goals from Logan McDanial and Lebogang Moloto. 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 wrap up the regular season at Valley Stadium on July 24.

The Lions play their home matches in St. Peters, Mo., at Tony Glavin Soccer Complex, which is named after their head coach (34-22-16 career record, in his fifth season).

UPCOMING PROMOTIONS: Saturday’s game, presented by Powerade and VitaminWater, will celebrate Fathers’ Day, as dads will get in for just $5 with a paid admission. Dads are encourage to wear an ugly hat for the chance to win a grill, sponsored by the Chicken Coop bar and grill.
Saturday 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.

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