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Menace opens Cup on the road

Maksym Kowal, left, and the Menace look to advance past the Open Cup's first round for the first time since 2006.
Glendale, Wis.  – Tuesday, May 15, 2012 – Lately, the first round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup has not been kind to the Des Moines Menace. The Premier Development League team looks to change this with a win in tonight’s opening-round match against the host Milwaukee Bavarians of the National Premier Soccer League.

After exiting the tournament with 1-0 first round losses in the Open Cup the last two years, the Menace opens tournament play on the road for the first time in seven Cup appearances. Bavarian Soccer Park is the site of the 7 o’clock tilt.

A Menace win tonight would set up a May 22 home match with Minnesota Stars FC, the defending champions of the professional first-division North American Soccer League.  The second-round winners in the 64-team national tournament advance to third-round matchups with Major League Soccer teams on May 29.

“For PDL players to get to the third round, you get to play with the big boys,” said Menace head coach Laurie Calloway. “It’s a chance for the boys to showcase themselves and quite often how boys get picked up (by professional teams).”

Before the Menace can even entertain the idea of the franchise’s third Open Cup match with an MLS team, the team has to win tonight – and avoid a repeat of the past two seasons’ early exits.

In 2010, it was an AC St. Louis goal in the 70th minute – just after Menace captain Clark Bradford was sent off with two yellow cards – that ended the tournament for the Menace. Last year, an 87th minute goal by the Chicago Fire PDL team sent the Menace home empty-handed after another heartbreaker.

“We were obviously disappointed,” reflected Calloway, who has reason for optimism after his team improved to 1-2-1 with a 4-1 home win over St. Louis over the weekend. “(We) found the scoring touch Saturday night. Hopefully that continues and we get performances from everyone on the field.

“(We) gotta dig down deep, fight – it’s going to be a battle,” said Calloway. “Win at all costs.The guys understand that.”

ABOUT THE OPEN CUP: In its 99th year, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is the country’s oldest soccer cup competition. It is open to all affiliated amateur and professional teams in the United States.

A total of 64 teams qualified for this year’s national tournament – a record for the Modern professional-era (1995-current) and an increase of 24 teams from last year’s Cup. The bracket includes all 16 American teams from Major League Soccer, 10 teams from the United Soccer League-PRO and six North American Soccer League teams. The remaining 32 spots are filled by amateur teams, including 16 teams from the Premier Development League.

The 32 non-MLS teams compete in head-to-head matches until the field whittles down to eight, when they are joined by the MLS teams to form a 32-team bracket. Head-to-head play continues until one team is left standing, with the final set for Aug. 7 or 8. Seattle Sounders FC has won the Open Cup the last three years.

The Menace makes its third consecutive and seventh overall appearance by virtue of its 2011 record (12-4-0), as one of the top two teams in the PDL’s Heartland Division (joined by the Real Colorado Foxes, who finished just behind Des Moines, at 11-2-3).

Des Moines carries a 7-6 all-time Open Cup mark, highlighted by the Menace’s back-to-back trips to the fourth round of the 2005 and 2006 tournaments.

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SCOUTING MILWAUKEE: The Bavarians are part of Bavarian Soccer Club, formed by German immigrants in 1929. Making its sixth appearance in the Open Cup, the Bavarians’ history Cup history includes a run to the 1993 semifinals and a 3-0 loss in the 1994 final, to Greek-American A.C. of San Francisco.

The Bavarians’ last first-round win came at the expense of the Menace – a 2-1 overtime loss for home-team Des Moines at Hoover High School’s Cara McGrane Stadium on June 5, 2003.

After finishing first in the NPSL Midwest Region with record of 8-2-2 a year ago, the Bavarians are the fourth team to open the 2012 season against the Menace.

RECAPPING SATURDAY: Husref Jupic scored three goals, Lebogang Moloto assisted three and Logan McDaniel delivered a goal and an assist. They did it all in the first 17 minutes of the second half of a 4-1 win over the St. Louis Lions at Valley Stadium, emphatically ending the Menace’s 310-minute scoring drought.

UP NEXT: The Menace is back at Valley Stadium next Saturday (May 19), following the first-ever match for the Menace women’s team. The doubleheader opens with a 4:30 p.m. Women’s League Soccer match between the inaugural Menace women and FC Indiana. The Menace men keep their usual 7:30 time spot, hosting the Kansas City Brass. The games are presented by Jack Links.

A win in tonight’s Open Cup first round would give Des Moines a home date with Minnesota Stars FC on Tuesday, May 22 in second-round play.

ABOUT THE MENACE: The Des Moines Menace provides the highest level of soccer in Iowa. The Menace men’s side competes in the 73-team United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League (PDL). The Menace’s women’s team prepares for its inaugural season, as part of the five-team Women’s League Soccer. The Menace teams play their 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, Junior Menace and tournaments.


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