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Four games, five days and 1,757 miles

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa –Tuesday, June 7, 2011 – The Des Moines Menace is putting on the miles – or, should we say, kilometers – during its annual Canadian tour.

After crossing the border last night, the team plays four Premier Development League matches in the next five days, taking on Heartland Division newcomer WSA Winnipeg (Tuesday and Wednesday) and the arch-rival Thunder Bay Chill (Friday and Saturday).

“The hope is to go 4-0 and stay on top of the league. It would build great momentum for the Open Cup game on Tuesday (June 14). With a 16-game schedule, you can’t lose a game and make the playoffs,” said head coach Laurie Calloway, whose team is 4-1-0.

The trip’s first stop is new territory for the Menace. WSA Winnipeg is 1-1, after defeating Thunder Bay, 3-0, for its inaugural win on May 29. Winnipeg Indoor Soccer Complex is the site for a pair of 7 p.m. matches the next two nights.

“I expect (WSA Winnipeg) to be experienced and for it to be a tough game,” said Calloway. “They split with Thunder Bay.”

The Menace departs Manitoba’s capital on Thursday, heading east to Ontario. Friday’s match – the first of back-to-back 6:30 CDT kick-offs at Chapples Park – is Thunder Bay’s home opener.

The history between the Menace and Thunder Bay dates back to 2000. The Menace leads the all-time series 20-14-3, and searches for its win over the Chill since a road victory on June 13, 2009.

“Thunder Bay has been very strong the past five or six years,” said Calloway. “It’s always a tough a difficult place to play. They’re very physical.”

The Chill finished second in the PDL last year, falling to the Portland Timbers’ U23 squad in the league final. Thunder Bay was crowned the PDL champion in 2008, when the Menace was the only team to defeat or tie the Chill on its way to the crown (1-1-2 against Des Moines).

Calloway’s crew will travel roughly 1,800 miles – or nearly 3,000 kilometers, to use Canada’s standard measure of distance – before arriving home on Sunday. The road warriors will spend 32 hours in the motor coach, with the longest leg of the trek (12 hours from Des Moines to Winnipeg) behind them.

RECAPPING LAST WEEK: Des Moines gained momentum last week with a redeeming 5-2 win Wednesday at Kansas City and a 14-0 exhibition win over Des Moines International at Valley Stadium on Saturday.

SCOUTING WSA WINNIPEG:  WSA Winnipeg (1-1-0) has a roster loaded with local players, ranging in age of 16-32 years. WSA Winnipeg originates from the World Soccer Academy of Manitoba, Canada, established in 2001. Head coach Eduardo Badescu, also the club’s president, leads the team.

The team picked up its first-ever win on May 29, thanks to goals from Amos Ganyea, Ivan Garcia and Kenny Sacramento in the shutout win over Thunder Bay. The Chill won the previous day, 1-0.
 
WSA Winnipeg makes its first appearance in Des Moines, when the Menace hosts a Friday-Saturday doubleheader at Valley Stadium on July 1-2.

SCOUTING THUNDER BAY: The Chill (1-1-0) returns much of last year’s PDL finalists, including veterans Sicelo Buthelezi, Nolan Intermoia, Anthony Putrus, Wilson Neto and Brandon Swartzendruber.

Thunder Bay has won the Heartland Division crown three of the last four years, including last year’s 12-2-2 finish. The Chill handed the Menace a 7-2 defeat a year ago at Chapples Park, and Des Moines bounced back for a 1-1 draw the next day. Thunder Bay won 3-1 at Valley Stadium last July.

Tony Colistro is in his seventh season with Thunder Bay, holding an overall record of 62-37-15. His team comes to Valley Stadium on July 8-9.

MENACE PLAYERS AMONG LEAGUE LEADERS: John Sosa is tied for fifth in assists in the PDL league with six; Deshorn Brown is tied for third in goals (six) and fifth in both points (13) and shots (19).

UPCOMING HOME ACTION: Calloway’s crew hosts Chicago Fire PDL in the first round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup one week from today. Next Tuesday’s Open Cup match begins at 7:30 p.m. at Valley Stadium. Fans can save $2 per ticket when purchasing online before the June 14 gameday.

Starting with a June 18 match against Kansas City, the Menace is at home six straight weekends to wrap up the season.

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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