WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Friday, June 24, 2011 – Starting tomorrow, Des Moines Menace players and fans will be hearing plenty of “O Canada” at Valley Stadium in the next couple weeks.
The team welcomes the Winnipeg Lions for a 7:30 p.m. exhibition on Saturday, opening a string of five straight home matches against competition from north of the border.
After this weekend, Des Moines’ pursuit of a Premier Development League playoff berth continues with back-to-back Friday-Saturday doubleheaders against the Heartland Division’s Canadian clubs. WSA Winnipeg comes to town for matches on July 1 and 2, giving the Menace three straight matches against teams from Manitoba’s capital. Laurie Calloway’s team hosts rival Thunder Bay the following weekend.
The Menace (7-3-0) is at home the next five weekends to wrap up the season, playing two exhibitions and five league matches in West Des Moines. Coming off a 4-2 home win over Kansas City last Saturday, the team will use Saturday’s match to prepare for the home stretch.
“It’s an exhibition match but we have a lot of things, especially defensively, to work on,” said midfielder Ben Taylor, the Menace’s only current member who has played against this Saturday’s foe. “It’ll be a good exercise to get everyone together again and work on the things we need to, especially with the next couple of matches coming up.”
Taylor led the way to a 5-2 win over the Lions two years ago. In a memorable performance, he racked up three goals in a span of only eight minutes. The points leader for the Menace’s 2009 division champs, Taylor scored in the 31st, 36th and 39th minutes, and he assisted another goal, as Des Moines built a five-goal halftime lead in the first meeting between the Menace and Winnipeg.
“I hadn’t scored a hat trick since I was five, and I haven’t scored one since,” said Taylor. “It was a great feeling.”
RECAPPING LAST SATURDAY: Lebogang Moloto scored two goals and assisted John Sosa’s game-winner, as the Menace broke a scoring drought and beat Kansas City, 4-2, at Valley Stadium.
Kenan Malicevic’s goal in the 27th minute snapped a 10-day scoreless streak that lasted 333 minutes of soccer. Des Moines bounced back from three straight shutout losses – June 10 and 11 in Thunder Bay (2-0 and 3-0) and a 1-0 loss to Chicago Fire PDL on June 14 in the first round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The Fire prepares to play Major League Soccer’s Sporting KC (formerly the Kansas City Wizards) on Tuesday (June 28) in the tournament’s third round.
LEAGUE HONORS: Moloto’s five-point performance on Saturday earned him an honorable-mention spot on the PDL’s Team of the Week, announced yesterday by the United Soccer Leagues. Moloto is the third Menace player to receive weekly honors this season, joining Deshorn Brown and John Sosa.
SCOUTING WINNIPEG: The Lions (4-2) play in the premier-one division of the Manitoba Major Soccer League. Each year, they vie for the Manitoba Soccer Association’s spot in the Canadian Soccer Association’s Challenge Cup. In their 15-year history, the Lions have made it to Canada’s cup five times – most recently in 2007 – and claiming the 2002 national title.
The Lions are coached by Tony Nocita, who played for the Canadian national team and was a member of the Winnipeg Fury’s 1992 Canadian Soccer League championship team. A former PDL head coach, Nocita guided the Calgary Storm to the league final in 2001, the organization’s only year in the league.
Winnipeg and the Menace share one common foe this season. The Lions played a doubleheader in Thunder Bay on June 4 and 5. The Chill won a pair of 5-0 matches, one weekend before beating the Menace by a combined score of 5-0.
SATURDAY’S PROMOTIONS: Saturday’s game, presented by the YMCA, is the second of three Cleat Crew matches. For only $5, children ages 13 and under can join the Cleat Crew and get admission to three games (May 21, June 25 and July 23), receiving a free drink and popcorn at each game.
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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