WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Thursday, July 7, 2011 – Playoff spots and first place are on the line this weekend, when the Des Moines Menace and the Thunder Bay Chill battle in a critical Premier Development League doubleheader.
The Heartland Division arch-rivals tangle on Friday and Saturday, with both matches starting at 7:30 p.m. at Valley Stadium.
A win by the Menace would lift Laurie Calloway’s club to first place. Des Moines (9-3-0, 27 points) is sandwiched between third-place Thunder Bay (8-1-1, 25 points) and leader Real Colorado (9-1-2, 29 points), as these three teams jockey for the division’s two playoff spots.
Needing to earn a weekend sweep to gain sole possession of the division’s top spot, Thunder Bay has outscored foes17-4. The Chill’s 4-1 triumph at Real Colorado last night – following the teams’ scoreless draw on Tuesday – marked just the second occasion the defending PDL finalists did not record a shutout.
“They’re a strong team. Very strong defensively,” Menace captain John Sosa said of the Chill. “Even though they have a defensive style, it’s still gonna be a tough match.”
The Menace and the Chill faced each other June 10-11 in Thunder Bay, where the home team handed the visitors two of their three losses (2-0 and 3-0). Des Moines has not won a match against Thunder Bay in the previous six meetings, going back to a 3-1 road win on June 13, 2009.
As the season winds down, the importance of this weekend’s matches is not lost on Calloway and his team. After Saturday, the Menace has only two remaining regular-season opportunities to pick up points – the July 23 home finale against Kansas City and July 24 at St. Louis.
Thunder Bay and Real Colorado each have four regular-season matches after this weekend, including their July 22-23 showdown north of the border.
RECAPPING LAST WEEKEND: The Menace had plenty to celebrate after sweeping WSA Winnipeg, 4-0, 3-1. Friday night featured players dancing on tables, fireworks and two goals apiece from leading scorers Deshorn Brown and John Sosa.
Brown scored again Saturday night, along with Lebogang Moloto and Ben Taylor. Hoping to secure another shutout, the Menace was humbled by a late, stoppage-time WSA Winnipeg goal from Aaron Badescu.
SCOUTING THUNDER BAY: Des Moines sees Thunder Bay at the end of a week-long, six-game American tour resulting in a 3-0-1 addition to the Chill’s overall record. Before the Chill’s match against Real Colorado July 6, Thunder Bay had not been scored on in six matches. A 3-0 setback on May 29 against WSA Winnipeg, is the Chill’s only loss of the season.
Brandon Swartzendruber leads the team with 12 points, on five goals and two assists, and is currently ranked sixth in the league in shots (39). Gustavo Oliveira holds six points from one goal and four assists. Goalkeeper Stephen Patterson’s four shutouts are ninth in the PDL.
Tony Colistro is in his seventh season with Thunder Bay. He holds a 70-38-16 overall record with the Chill, which won the league crown in 2008 and finished second to the Portland Timbers U23s a year ago.
THIS WEEKEND’S PROMOTIONS: Friday night’s game, presented by Little Debbie, features a cowbell giveaway for the first 300 fans. Saturday’s game is presented by Kum & Go.
All home matches start at 7:30 p.m. at Valley Stadium.
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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