WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Friday, July 22, 2011 – A playoff berth is within the Des Moines Menace's reach, as the Premier Development League team enters the final weekend of the regular season.
In order to secure one of the Heartland Division’s two postseason spots, the Menace must win its last two matches, and get some help from the division’s other contenders.
Third-place Des Moines (10-4-0, 30 points) hosts the Kansas City Brass on Saturday and travels to face the rival St. Louis Lions on Sunday. Valley Stadium is the site for tomorrow’s 7:30 p.m. match on Fan Appreciation Night; the season finale is set for 5 p.m. at Tony Glavin Complex in St. Peters, Mo.
“We have to focus on the job we have to do, and that’s get two wins this weekend,” said head coach Laurie Calloway.
Winning out would give the Menace 36 points, and possibly bump the Thunder Bay Chill or the Real Colorado Foxes from a playoff perch. With the division crown on the line, the Chill and the Foxes go head-to-head the next two nights (Friday and Saturday).
So long as the Menace wins on Saturday and Sunday, the team can make its 11th playoff appearance if Real Colorado (11-1-2, 35 points) or host Thunder Bay (11-2-1, 34 points) wins a pair, or if one team earns a win and a tie.
Update (Friday, July 22): Real Colorado and Thunder Bay tied, 1-1, on Friday. You can find the scores here.
No matter what happens in Thunder Bay, the Menace is determined walk away with two shutouts this weekend.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re tighter defensively, tighten up through the back, and try to get some steady offense going,” said Calloway. “The teams that make it through the playoffs have zeroes against them, plain and simple.”
With the potential to run out at Valley Stadium for the last time, Menace players know the importance of finishing strong.
“It’s a big weekend. These are two important games. Playoffs are on the line,” said defender James Garces. “We got to win both. Go big or go home.”
PLAYOFF FORMAT: The Heartland Division’s top two teams advance to the Central Conference semifinals on July 29 or 30, with the Heartland’s No. 2 team playing the Great Lakes Division champion Michigan Bucks, and the Heartland’s No. 1 team playing the winner of a July 26 play-in match between the Great Lakes’ second- and third-place teams, the Chicago Fire PDL and Forest City London. The winners from each of the four conference finals (to be determined by no later than July 31) play in the PDL semifinals on Aug. 5, setting up the championship match on Aug. 7. For more information about the Menace’s playoff contention, click here.
RECAPPING LAST WEEKEND: The Menace was idle in PDL play last weekend, challenging former Menace players for a battle of the ages. The Des Moines Menace’s Premier Development League team defeated the Menace Alumni, 4-1, on Blank Children’s Hospital Night. The exhibition celebrated the team’s former players, who held their own against Laurie Calloway’s squad.
Husref Jupic tallied five points on back-to-back goals and an assist. John Sosa and Orin Branker were the other Menace scorers. The alums’ solo goal ended the game, as goalkeeper Matt Wade pushed a header past the Maniac. The Menace’s mascot subbed in for PDL goalie Jhojan Obando for the one minute of stoppage time.
SCOUTING KANSAS CITY: The Brass (4-7-4) closes its season on Saturday, looking for a series split with Des Moines.
Lincoln Roblee’s team handed the Menace its first loss (2-1 on May 25 in Overland Park, Kan.), which kept Des Moines’ PDL team from earning the division’s spot in the Lamar Hunt U. S. Open Cup. Des Moines bounced back a week later, with a 5-2 win on June 1 in Liberty, Mo. The Menace also beat the Brass, 4-2, at Valley Stadium on June 18.
With a team-high 21 points, Ricardo Yeverino has tallied 10 goals and one assist this season. Brian Harris has 16 points from five goals and six assists. Goalkeeper Andy Fitzpatrick’s 68 saves rank seventh in the PDL.
SCOUTING ST. LOUIS: Tony Glavin’s Lions are fourth in the Heartland Division with a record of 4-6-5.
St. Louis and Des Moines have not seen each other since opening the season with back-to-back Saturday matches, both won by the Menace (2-1 on May 14 and 5-2 on May 21) at Valley Stadium. Des Moines leads the series, 5-3-8, and is undefeated in its last 10 against the Gateway City club.
Patrick Kelly leads the Lions with 10 points from three goals and four assists. Three players hold nine points apiece: Dean Lovegrove, Dan Meagher and Gavin Smith.
SATURDAY’S PROMOTIONS: It’s Fan Appreciation Night, as the Menace asks for your help to “Paint the Stadium Red.” All fans wearing red receive $5 admission to the game, presented by Frito-Lay. Children 13 and get admission and free drink and food for only $5, by signing up for the Cleat Crew.
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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