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Menace controls Open Cup destiny

Anthony Colaizzi gets past a St. Louis Lion on May 14, in the first of four Open Cup qualifiers.
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Wednesday, May 25, 2011 – One victory stands between the Des Moines Menace and a return to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

The Premier Development League Heartland Division’s berth in the Open Cup is within the Menace’s reach. Des Moines (3-0-0) travels to Liberty, Mo., knowing it needs to win tonight against the Kansas City Brass (1-2-0), to seal a coveted spot in the 98-year-old tournament. William Jewell College is the site for the 7:30 p.m. match.

“The objective for us is to win by a goal. I’d like for that to be a shutout,” said Menace head coach Laurie Calloway, whose team raced to a 5-0 lead on Saturday before winning 5-2 over St. Louis in a lightning-shortened game at Valley Stadium. “We’ve been preparing by running through some reminders of things we do well and what we need to tidy up. Hopefully we’ll know by 10 p.m. if we have a berth in the Cup.”

Des Moines has outscored foes 10-3, and is hoping to edge Real Colorado (4-0-0), a team that finished its four Open Cup qualifiers with a 12-5 goals advantage. Because these teams don’t go head-to-head in qualifiers (they also won’t compete during the regular season), the next tie-breakers are 1.) wins in qualifying games, and 2.) goal difference.

The Menace organization has already locked up one spot in the 2011 Open Cup, and the PDL team hopes to join the party. The Iowa Menace, coached by Calloway and Brandon Ermels, was the first amateur team to clinch a spot this year, thanks to a 7-1 win over United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) Region-2 opponent Kansas on April 30.

“To get two teams in (the Cup) would be historic and fantastic to achieve,” said Calloway. The fact that we’re already in, we need to remind the guys not to have complacency.”

This would not be the first Open Cup rodeo for Menace center back Diego Marroquin, who opened the scoring outburst on Saturday. Playing for the Portland Timbers U23, Marroquin got a shot to play in last year’s Open Cup. A win tonight would him another chance to go up against professional players.

“I think there’s a lot on the line. It’s important to win,” said Marroquin. “It would be nice to let everyone get a chance to play at the Cup. We have a lot of guys that have been working hard, so it would be good to see everybody play.”

A return trip to this year’s knockout tournament marks the third time the organization has participated in back-to-back years (2002-2003 and 2005-2006). The Menace lost to pro team AC St. Louis, 1-0, in the first-round of the 2010 Open Cup.

Calloway is focusing his players on more than just the Open Cup, with lofty goals for the PDL season.

“We have to win to be on top in the league. Our emphasis is to be on top of the league. Don’t think it’s all about the Open Cup,” said Calloway.

RECAPPING SATURDAY: With thunderstorms threatening, the Menace bolted to a 5-0 lead over rival St. Louis, en route to a 5-2 win. The game was called after officials cleared the field in the 79th minute.

Center-midfielder John Sosa set a Des Moines franchise record, collecting four assists – including three in a span of about 10 minutes.
Diego Marroquin started the scoring in the 15th minute, heading in a corner kick from Sosa. The Menace kept on the attack, as Sosa set up Deshorn Brown for his third (23rd minute) and fourth (25th minute) goals of the season.

Uriah Polley scored unassisted in the final minute of the first half, and the Menace made it a five-goal lead in the 51st minute, when Lebogang Moloto went “upper 90” after receiving a one-touch give-and-go from Sosa.

SCOUTING KANSAS CITY:  The Brass opened the season with losses at Real Colorado, which won a pair of Open Cup qualifiers, 4-1 and 3-2. Jefferson Roblee’s team came back in resounding fashion on Sunday, with a 5-2 home win over Springfield.

Kansas City is looking for its first win against Des Moines since May 2007. The Menace leads the all-time series, 20-10-1, and is undefeated in nine straight against the Brass (1-12-3 in 2010), including a 6-0 win at Valley Stadium last July 17, in the teams’ most recent meeting.

However, Calloway knows Kansas City has historically been a tough opponent on its home turf. The Menace is 8-6-1 at Kansas City.

“I expect them to be dangerous, especially at their home,” said Calloway.

Des Moines returns to Kansas City on Wednesday, June 1 – playing at Overland Park Soccer Complex this time – for another match with the Brass. Kansas City visits Valley Stadium on June 18 and July 23.

MENACE PLAYERS AMONG LEAGUE LEADERS: After his record-setting performance, John Sosa leads the 64-team PDL with six assists; Deshorn Brown is among league leaders with four goals (tied for third place) and eight points (tied for eighth place); Uriah Polley’s 10 shots are the ninth-highest total (tie).

UPCOMING HOME ACTION: Des Moines returns to Valley Stadium on Saturday, June 4 for a 7:30 p.m. exhibition game against Des Moines International on Youth Soccer Night, presented by Powerade/Vitamin Water. Youth soccer players and coaches within the area receive free admission when wearing their team’s jersey or presenting a coach’s pass. Check out the Menace’s
2011 promotional schedule.

ABOUT THE MENACE: The Des Moines Menace competes in the 64-team United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League (PDL), the highest amateur level of soccer in North America. The Menace plays its home matches in a fun, family-friendly environment at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines. The organization promotes a healthy lifestyle through its popular youth programs, including the Menace Academy (select soccer for ages 9-19), camps, clinics and tournaments.

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