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Menace Alumni in the Pros

Four former Menace players with MLS teams are among the team's 14 alumni currently playing in the pros. Left to right: Jason Griffiths (New England); Andy Gruenebaum (Columbus); and Edson Edward (FC Dallas) and Danny Cruz (Houston), shown here going head to head this spring.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Friday, Oct. 22, 2010 – The list of Des Moines Menace alumni who have played professional soccer grows each year, inching closer and closer to 50.

As the Premier Development League team prepares for its 18th season, the Menace has sent 46 former players on to the pros.

In 2010, 14 former Menace players earned spots on the rosters of professional teams. This story is an update on these alumni – including four players who made their pro debuts this season.

Major League Soccer

Jason Griffiths and Edson "Eddie" Edward are the 21st and 22nd Menace alumni to suit up for MLS teams.

Griffiths, a 2009 Menace midfielder chosen by New England in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, made his debut on June 27 in the Revolution’s 1-0 loss to Chicago. The former Kentucky standout from England has since appeared in nine more matches for the Revs (9-15-5), logging 377 minutes.

Edward, a defender for the Menace in 2008, signed as a free agent with FC Dallas in March after completing his eligibility at NAIA Graceland (Lamoni, Iowa) last fall. The Canadian made his MLS debut on Sept. 25 in FC Dallas’ 3-1 win at Kansas City.

Danny Cruz achieved a trio of firsts on May 22. In his first MLS start, he collected his first pro goal and his first pro assist in the Houston Dynamo’s 2-0 win over D.C. United. Cruz, a UNLV product who starred for the Menace in 2008 and was the youngest player chosen in the 2009 SuperDraft, has made 24 appearances, including 14 starts. He has five points on the season for Houston (8-15-6).

Though he has not seen any regular-season action this season, goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum was an integral part of Columbus’ runs in the CONCACAF Champions League and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Gruenebaum, who led the Menace to the 2005 PDL title, was in net for nine matches in these tournaments, helping the Crew pick up seven wins – four in the Champions League and three in the Open Cup run, which ended with a 2-1 loss to Seattle in the final earlier this month.

The MLS regular season closes this weekend, and Edwards’ FC Dallas (12-3-14) and Gruenebaum’s Crew (13-8-8) prepare for the playoffs, which start next Thursday.

USSF Division-2

In 2010, four Menace alumni played in North America soccer’s second division, a merger between the rebirthed North American Soccer League and the United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1).

The season continues for rookie Joe Salem and veteran Matt Bobo.

Salem (2008-09 Menace),a 2008 PDL all-conference selection from Tulsa, has played 20 matches for the Puerto Rico Islanders, who host Bobo’s Carolina RailHawks on Sunday in the opening contest of the two-match (aggregate) league final. After finishing the regular-season 9-11-10 and claiming the eighth and final playoff spot for the 12-team league, the Islanders have edged Rochester and Vancouver in the quarterfinals and semis to keep their season alive.

In his 10th pro season, Bobo – a Des Moines native who played for his hometown PDL team in 1998 – has a goal and an assist in 24 matches. Carolina (13-9-8) made it to the finals by soundly defeating NSC Minnesota and Montreal. Joseph Kabwe, a Zimbabwean who played for the Menace in 2003, appeared in seven matches for the RailHawks before Carolina loaned him to USL-2 Richmond for the final month of the season.

Frankie Sanfilippo appeared in every match for regular-season champion Rochester (16-8-6). Sanfilippo, a member of the 2003 Menace who played for current Menace head coach Laurie Calloway during USL-1 stops in Syracuse (2004) and Rochester (2005-06), contributed four points as a fixture in the Rhinos’ defense.

United Soccer Leagues Second Division

Lamar Neagle shined in 2010, leading the USL-2 in points (25) and goals (12) and guiding the Charleston Battery (11-4-5) to the league championship. Neagle, featured in this story, did not have much time to rest after the Aug. 28 title-game win over Kabwe’s Richmond Kickers (a 2-1 match in which he scored). He quickly caught on with IFK Mariehamn of the Finnish Premier Division, and he has scored a goal in each of his last two appearances for the Finnish club.

Neagle was not the only Menace alum among the league’s leaders. Real Maryland’s Nicki Paterson, a teammate of Neagle’s in Des Moines (2007-08) and at UNLV, finished with three assists – good for a fifth-place tie. Paterson’s name also appears on the USL-2’s leader board for shots (31, seventh place), fouls (30, a tie for second) and minutes (1700, 10th place).

After the Monarchs’ (3-8-9) season came to a close, Paterson moved up a division by signing a contract with AC St. Louis, the USSF D-2 club that defeated the Menace in this year’s Open Cup. Paterson’s time in St. Louis was short-lived, as visa issues forced him to return to his native Scotland before playing a game at the D-2 level. Paterson has caught on with Scottish club FC Clyde; he scored a goal in the team’s 3-2 loss to Arbroath on Saturday (Oct. 16).

Foreign Clubs

In addition to Neagle and Paterson, four Menace alumni are playing professionally overseas.

A member of the Menace the last three seasons, Stefan De Las has caught on with MYPA. He signed a contract with the Finnish club in August (covered here on, and his team faced Neagle’s IFK Mariehamn on Oct. 2 – a 2-1 MYPA win in which Neagle scored the visitors’ only goal. De Las, a Graceland grad from Trinidad and Tobago, has appeared in three matches.

Leo Krupnik is back in the Israeli Premier League after playing MLS for the New York Red Bulls a year ago. Krupnik, who spent time with the Menace in 2002 and 2004, has made 12 appearances for Maccabi Netanya.

Besmir Bega, a Drake product who played for the 2007 Menace, has appeared in five matches for Partizani Tirana in his native Albania.

Dan O’Brien, also a member of the 2007 Menace, is scoring goals in New Zealand. After playing the last two USL-1 seasons with the now-defunct Minnesota Thunder, has found the net 10 times with Western Suburbs (nine goals in 21 appearances) and his current team, Hawke’s Bay United (a goal in two matches).

Former pro players join the coaching ranks

A growing number of Menace alumni has transitioned from pro playing careers to coaching careers.

Ezra Hendrickson, a standout from the Menace’s inaugural team in 1994, is in his second season as an assistant coach for the Seattle Sounders. After enjoying the most notable pro career of any Menace alum, Hendrickson retired in January 2009 after 12 pro seasons and three MLS Cups.

Remi Roy, a goalie for the Menace’s 2002 undefeated regular-season champs, is the goalkeeper coach for New England. He accepted the position last spring after coaching several seasons at his alma mater, the University of Mobile.

Mike Graczyk, Kevin Souter and Michael Kraus were playing MLS in 2009. A year later, they are coaching at the college level.

Graczyk (2007), a former goalie who last played for San Jose, is a coaching assistant for Harvard. Souter (also 2007) is a player-coach with Ryerson University in Toronto, where he has reunited with his Graceland coach, Ivan Joseph. Krause (2005), who played alongside Souter with Kansas City, is a student assistant at Creighton. He has reunited with former Creighton teammate Matt Wieland (also a member of the 2005 champions), who played for the New England Revolution in 2006.

Related link: Menace Alumni in the Pros

Please email us with any missing Menace alumni or inaccurate information.

ABOUT THE MENACE: Iowa’s Premier Soccer Team since 1994, the Des Moines Menace is a member of the 67-team Premier Development League – the United Soccer Leagues’ highest amateur level. The Menace, the 2009 PDL Organization of the Year, is preparing for its 18th season, which begins in May 2011. The team plays its home games in a fun, family friendly environment at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines.

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