WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – July 8, 2010 – The Des Moines Menace takes a break from Premier Development League action on Saturday, when it hosts the St. Paul Twin Stars of the National Premier Soccer League. The exhibition starts at 7:30 p.m. at Valley Stadium.
The Menace looks to bounce back from a 3-1 loss to Thunder Bay last Saturday, pushing them to the brink of elimination from playoff contention. After Saturday’s game, the team must win its two remaining PDL games to even have a chance at the postseason.
Des Moines (5-3-6) hopes to use Saturday’s exhibition to get back on track for the final push. The team is tied for second place with Rochester with 21 points, trailing first-place Thunder Bay (10-1-1) by ten points. The Chill nearly has the Heartland Division wrapped up, leaving only one playoff berth left. The Thunder (6-2-3) still has five games remaining and holds the tiebreaker over Des Moines based on a head-to-head advantage. Real Colorado (5-2-5) is in third with 20 points, but still has four games left.
“Hopefully we’re still in the hunt when we take the field against Kansas City (on July 17). We’ll have to win and win big,” Menace head coach Laurie Calloway said. “If there’s still a chance against St. Louis (on July 24) we’ll have to beat up on them a little bit. Hopefully we can build up the goal differential if Rochester slips up.”
The Twin Stars (4-2-2) have been successful in recent years in the National Premier Soccer League. The team has won the past two NPSL Midwest Division titles, and made the national final in 2008.
The NPSL is affiliated with the United States Adult Soccer Association. Alongside the rival PDL, the 31-team NPSL is part of the fourth tier in the United States’ soccer pyramid. Major League Soccer is first, followed by the United States Soccer Federation – Division 2 Professional League and the United Soccer Leagues Second Division.
Calloway believes that the exhibition match will give him an opportunity to get more players in the lineup, and hopes to see what he has in store for the future.
“We’ll be able to get a few more players some time, and I’ll be looking at them for next year,” he said. “We’re going to take this seriously; probably start with the regular starters. Not sure whether to change at halftime or ongoing in the second half. We’ll have to wait and see about some injury issues.”
“Hopefully we can score a few goals and get some confidence.”
RECAPPING SATURDAY: Thunder Bay scored two goals in the opening 10 minutes, and the Menace never recovered en route to a 3-1 loss last Saturday at Valley Stadium.
The Chill’s Brandon Swartzendruber, who ranks second in the PDL in points, scored his 10th goal of the season in the third minute and Sicelo Buthelezi lofted a shot over goalkeeper Jake Wright in the eighth minute to put Thunder Bay up for good.
The Menace gave the Chill quite a break in the 23rd minute. Gustavo Oliveira took a shot that was swatted away by a diving Wright. Oliveira flicked the rebound towards the net, and Jack Pearson appeared to have the pass well defended. In his attempt to clear the ball, however, Pearson put it in the back of his own goal to give the Chill a 3-0 advantage.
Des Moines responded on a free kick two minutes later. Captain Clark Bradford lined up and sent a great ball into the box, which Logan McDaniel finished to put the Menace on the board. It was McDaniel’s fourth goal of the season, and the assist extended Bradford’s team lead in points to 13.
The Menace played the last 55 minutes with a man advantage. Chill midfielder Nolan Intermoia elbowed the Menace’s Jubril Lawal in the face while fighting for position preceding a free kick, and was given a red card in the 35th minute. Des Moines could not take advantage, as Thunder Bay held on in a scoreless second half to obtain the victory and deliver a blow to the Menace’s playoff hopes.
SCOUTING ST. PAUL: The St. Paul Twin Stars’ inaugural season was in 2005, and the team has come a long way since then. After consecutive third place finishes in the NPSL Midwest Division in 2006 and 2007, the Twin Stars won its first division title in 2008. The team made it to the NPSL championship that season. The team won the division again in 2009, and made the NPSL semifinals.
St. Paul is in the thick of the race this season as well. It is tied for second, trailing the first-place Madison 56ers by only a point heading into its final two NPSL games.
The team’s most successful player is Igor Stosic, who was the first player in team history to be named to the NPSL Midwest All-Star team in 2006. Stosic has been an all-star each year since then, and was named the 2009 NPSL Midwest Most Valuable Player.
St. Paul is coached by Youssef Darbaki. He is the only head coach in the franchise’s history.
UPCOMING PROMOTIONS: Saturday’s game is presented by Sportastic. The Menace is partnering with “Play It Forward,” encouraging fans to donate soccer balls and cleats for a $5 ticket. You can read more about “Play It Forward” here.
The Menace closes the regular season with home games against Kansas City and St. Louis on July 17 and 24, respectively.
July 17 is Susan G. Komen night, with $2 of every ticket sale going to the Susan G. Komen foundation to fight against breast cancer. The game is presented by the Principal Financial Group.
July 24 is Fan Appreciation Night, presented by Frito Lay. The Menace attempts to “Paint the Stadium Red,” and fans wearing red will be admitted for only $5. July 24 also marks the final Cleat Crew game.