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Menace eyes division's top spot

Captain Brandon Fricke goes up for a challenge in the Menace's 4-1 win over St. Louis on May 12.
ST. PETERS, Mo. – Friday, May 25, 2012 – First place is within the Des Moines Menace’s reach.

Des Moines faces the St. Louis Lions tomorrow, knowing a win could mean at least a share of the top spot in the Premier Development League’s Heartland Division. Tony Glavin Soccer Complex is the site of a 5 p.m. match – the Lions’ home opener and a rematch of a 4-1 Menace home win on May 12.

Since opening the season with a tie and two losses, the Menace (2-2-1, seven points) has been playing catch-up. Real Colorado, which tied and defeated the Menace on May 4-5, sits atop the division standings with a 2-1-3 mark, two points above Des Moines.

A couple teams head into the weekend just a point behind the Menace. Springfield (2-1-0, with a home win over the Menace on May 9) could move into a first-place tie with a home win over Kansas City tonight, and WSA Winnipeg (1-0-3) looks to gain ground with a Friday-Saturday doubleheader at season-opening Thunder Bay.

“We want to continue picking up points. A win is extremely important,” said Menace head coach Laurie Calloway. “A win could take us to first place. The other thing I’m looking for is a shutout.”

Giving up six goals in five regular-season matches, the Menace has yet to hold an opponent scoreless. Filtering through goalkeepers, the Menace has yet to find its true starter. Brian Billings, Jhojan Obando and Jonathan Viscosi are each looking to emerge as the team’s top goalie.

“We’ll be looking for a guy to not make mistakes,” said Calloway. “The distribution is an issue with me right now. We have to improve those situations.”
Finding the right goalkeeper is no-doubt a missing component to the Menace’s lineup, but Calloway notes that the inability to earn a shutout isn’t all on the keepers.

“The style of play we play is attacking minded,” Calloway said. “Unlike Colorado with nine points in two wins and three ties coming from four goals, they’re obviously defensive minded. We believe in the opposite. We like to go forward. We like to get opportunities. We like to entertain, which leaves us vulnerable sometimes.”

In the Lions’ (0-2-1) season-opener, on May 12 at Valley Stadium, it was a hat trick from Husref Jupic that entertained the crowd in the Menace’s first win of the season. Suffering a meniscus tear from Tuesday’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup second-round loss against Minnesota Stars FC, Jupic is left out of the action this time around.

A 310-minute scoreless streak for the Menace was halted with a rampage of goals, all four coming in the second half of the May 12 tilt. Jupic’s finishing touch lifted the Menace to its first win of the season earning three points in the Heartland Division standings.

The Menace will certainly miss Jupic in this Heartland Division rivalry, but Calloway doesn’t believe that one man can change the outcome.

“We need to look to who’s going to step into Jupic’s role,” said Calloway. “We just look at the players who haven’t had a real look yet — we should be fine. You can only win games if you get eight or nine players playing well. There’s going to be one playing well, but you can’t carry five or six guys. Overall, it’s the team.”

RECAPPING TUESDAY: The Menace was booted from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in the second round by the Minnesota Stars FC. With a 2-0 win at Valley Stadium, the defending champions from the professional North American Soccer League marched on to a May 29 match at Real Salt Lake (Major League Soccer).

SCOUTING ST. LOUIS: The fifth-place Lions seek their first win. Last weekend in Winnipeg, Tony Glavin’s team scratched out a scoreless draw on Friday, and lost a 2-1 decision the next night.

The Lions have managed to score just two goals, coming from Chris Matthews and Kenny Kranz.

With four straight wins over St. Louis, Des Moines leads the all-time series 7-3-8 and is undefeated in 12 straight against the Lions, stretching back to the 2008 season.

UP NEXT: On the road again next weekend, the Menace faces WSA Winnipeg on June 1-2 at 7 p.m. at Winnipeg Soccer Complex.

The next Menace home match is Saturday, June 9 against the Kansas City Brass on Youth Soccer Night, when all youth-soccer players and coaches get in free. The YMCA is the title sponsor for the 7:30 match at Valley Stadium.

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). In its inaugural season, the Menace’s women’s team is 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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