WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – May 12, 2011 – If you want to find two evenly matched teams, look no further than the Des Moines Menace and the St. Louis Lions.
These Heartland Division rivals open the Premier Development League season on Saturday night, with the all-time series at a stalemate. Since the Lions joined the league in 2006, the teams have faced off 14 times, tying on eight occasions; they have split the other games, with each side finishing on top three times.
The rivalry continues on opening night at 7:30 – the first of back-to-back Saturdays the Menace and the Lions battle at Valley Stadium.
“It’s a good yardstick for us,” said Menace head coach Laurie Calloway. “We know the Lions are a competitive opponent – always have been. They’ve got a coach with a “never say die” attitude, and he spreads that to the team.”
Tony Glavin’s Lions have fought back time and again. These foes have tied six times in the last three seasons, and in each of the last five draws – four of which have been 2-2 results – St. Louis has come from behind in the final 20 minutes to erase a Menace lead.
On Saturday, the rivals return to the site of their 2010 finale, yet another 2-2 finish – thanks to the Lions’ Dan Meagher’s goal in the 90th minute – that kept Des Moines (6-3-7) from a share of third place in the division.
Menace newcomer Tad Kreamalmeyer played for St. Louis a year ago.
“They (the Lions) have a lot of respect for Des Moines,” said Kreamalmeyer, a midfielder entering his senior year at Evansville. “They’re always up for the game. Every year, the teams have been very competitive.”
These first two matches are qualifiers for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. One team from each of the PDL’s nine divisions earns a berth in the national tournament.
After earning the division’s Open Cup spot in 2010, the Menace hopes to repeat history by securing back-to-back appearances for the third time (2002 and 2003; 2005 and 2006). St. Louis played in the Open Cup in 2008 and 2009.
Des Moines’ other two qualifiers come on the road: May 17 at Springfield (Mo.) and May 25 at Kansas City.
SCOUTING THE MENACE: Calloway has the team’s goals set on return trips to the Open Cup and the playoffs.
“I feel very optimistic that we’re going to be a higher scoring team,” Calloway said. “At the same time, we hope to be very persistent and much more stingy on defense. We think we are assembling a team that can win the division title.
“We try to get up front out of the back. That’s the style I prefer, and what I try to get our players to embrace. Penetration from the midfield, with a midfielder who can score nine or ten goals – something missing last year.”
Calloway, a veteran coach who has amassed more than 200 wins in the professional ranks, enters his fourth season with the Menace (2001-2002 and 2010). He is second on the franchise’s all-time wins chart, with a mark of 32-10-12. Menace assistant coach Neathan Gibson and goalkeeping coach Kevin Schalk return for their second seasons.
SCOUTING ST. LOUIS: The Lions (5-7-4) finished fifth in the 2010 Heartland Division standings.
In 2010, Des Moines took the season series for the second straight season, winning 2-1 at Valley Stadium on May 22, before the teams tied 1-1 at St. Louis on June 13 and 2-2 in West Des Moines on July 24.
After seeing each other the next two Saturdays, the teams won’t see each other again until the Menace visits St. Louis on the last day of the regular season – July 24. Entering 2011, the series history is tied on both teams’ home field (1-1-4 down there, and 2-2-4 here).
Tony Glavin, the Lions’ head coach since their inaugural 2006 season, holds a record of 35-27-20.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: In 2011, the Menace will feature a player each week, with a story and video on MenaceSoccer.com. We start things off by getting to know Anthony Colaizzi, a defender who helped the Thunder Bay Chill reach the 2010 PDL final.
SATURDAY’S PROMOTIONS: Opening Night is sponsored by Gatorade. The first 300 fans will receive free magnet schedules, and ladies 18 and older are invited to participate in the Diamond Dig, sponsored by Charles Ganske and InFocus Partners – one of the many highlights on the Menace’s 2011 promotional schedule.
UP NEXT: The Menace visits Missouri to take on the Springfield Demize on Tuesday. Cooper Complex is the site for the 7:30 p.m. match – the only one between these teams during the 2011 regular season. Des Moines and St. Louis return to Valley Stadium next Saturday (May 21) for a 7:30 p.m. match on “Blackout Night,” when fans wearing black get in for $5. The May 21 game is presented by CBRE/Hubbell, and the first 300 fans can relive the 2010 World Cup and make a lot of noise, with their free vuvuzelas.
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