WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Friday, July 15, 2011 – Past meets present, as alumni put on Menace uniforms again tomorrow night. In a 7:30 exhibition at Valley Stadium, the Des Moines Menace takes on players from yesteryear, in a battle of the ages.
The night celebrates past players and is a benefit for Blank Children’s Hospital. Fans are encouraged to contribute to the team’s battery drive for the hospital, which also receives a portion of the game’s ticket sales.
Neathan Gibson, Menace Assistant Coach and the Menace Academy’s Director of Coaching, will lead the alumni squad.
“It will be interesting. I haven’t met the guys that played prior to me,” said Gibson, who starred for the 2002 Menace in the twilight of a career that including time with pro teams in five countries. “It will be neat to have guys from every year there. I’m just glad that we’re playing with a group of guys that are fortunate to help us get this going and get the event running.”
Franchise player Tomas Boltnar, the organization’s all-time leading scorer, also makes his return. The team retired Boltnar’s No. 21 jersey in a 2009 ceremony on Tomas Boltnar Night.
“I’ve been secretly training for two days,” Boltnar, the Premier Development League’s MVP in 2002 and 2003, said jokingly.
The competition will be heated between two teams, but both sides understand the greater implications of the exhibition match.
“We just want to have fun and enjoy it out there,” said Gibson. “The most important thing is that the PDL has a game the following weekend so we need to come away injury free. It’s going to be a clean, good physical game. Overall, just a fun game.”
Laurie Calloway’s crew returns to Valley Stadium on July 23 for its last regular-season home match, hosting Kansas City at 7:30. The team’s regular-season concludes the next day at St. Louis.
Des Moines (10-4-0) remains in the hunt for one of the Heartland Division’s two playoff spots, hoping for some help from Thunder Bay (11-2-1) and Real Colorado (9-1-2), who face each other in Canada on July 22-23.
RECAPPING LAST WEEKEND: After experiencing their first home loss of the season on Friday night – a 1-0 defeat to Thunder Bay, the Menace gave the Chill its first loss in 39 days. A nearly impossible goal in the 70th minute by Jubril Lawal and a converted penalty kick by John Sosa in the 82nd led the Menace to victory.
SCOUTING THE ALUMNI: The group represents every previous Menace team, with at least one member of each team from 1994-2010. Former Major League Soccer players Neathan Gibson and Matt Nickell are on the list. On the roster are players who scored two goals of note: Kevin Graving scored the first-ever goal in team history, and Luke Frieberg clinched the Menace’s 2005 PDL title by converting the final kick in a dramatic shootout.
The roster, largely comprised of alumni who still live in the area, also includes recent Menace standouts, including Nick Foster, Armin Mujdzic and Tucker Sindlinger.
The team will be sporting forest-green jerseys, featuring the Menace’s vintage logo. Starting tomorrow, fans will also be able to purchase shirts and other gear with the team’s retro look.
SATURDAY’S PROMOTIONS: Saturday’s game is presented by the Principal Financial Group. It’s Blank Children’s Hospital Night, with $2 of every ticket sold going to the hospital. Fans are encouraged to bring batteries to the game, as they will be collected at the information table as part of a battery drive for Blank Children’s Hospital.
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.
FOLLOW THE MENACE: