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Menace, last call

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa. – Friday, July 13, 2012 – Wrapping up its last weekend of the season, the Des Moines Menace is set for a Saturday home match with Minnesota Stars FC at 7:30 p.m. and a Sunday road match with the St. Louis Lions at Tony Glavin Complex in St. Peters, Mo., at 5 p.m.

The Menace (7-5-3 Premier Development League) ends its home stand with a bang. Fireworks follow a rematch with Minnesota (7-5-4 North American Soccer League) at Valley Stadium. The Stars, the defending NASL champions, return to the site of their 2-0 win on May 22 that bumped the Menace from the second round of the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Des Moines’ players and coaches have the Open Cup on their minds. They know a good result at St. Louis will mean a spot in next year’s Cup.

With the top two American teams from each PDL division qualifying, and Real Colorado (8-4-4) owning one of the Heartland Division’s 2013 spots already, the Menace is in need of a win or a tie on Sunday. Springfield (5-5-4) and Kansas City (6-7-1) each have a ceiling of 25 points. A victory on Sunday would put the Menace at 27 points. A tie on Sunday would give Des Moines 25 points; the Menace owns a head-to-head tie-breaker with Springfield and Kansas City.

The Open Cup, a 99-year-old tournament sets out pairing the country’s top amateur and professional teams, to determine a national champion. The Menace has qualified for the tournament seven times, including each of the last three years.

“We have to get a win,” said Menace head coach Laurie Calloway. “Right now all my focus is geared towards winning that game on Sunday.”

The importance of the Cup is fueled by PDL players’ drive to get scouted by pro teams. What better way to get noticed then to upset a professional opponent?

Fortunately for the Menace, that same opportunity comes on Saturday night as the Menace host pro side Minnesota. As if that isn’t enough motivation, Calloway is optimistic that the environment on Fan Appreciation Night will ramp up us team.

“Obviously its appreciation day so it’ll be a good environment,” said Calloway. “It’s more fun playing in front of crowds. They’ve all got a little ham in them. They’re all entertainers.”

Unbeaten at home in its last six PDL home matches, the Menace has made celebrations part of the Valley Stadium fan experience.

While scoring on divisional opponents is all well and good, displaying excellence on Saturday could shape a new path for some Menace players. After college graduation and spending the summer in the PDL many Menace players are hoping to find home at the next level.

“I will help the guys I feel can make the pros here or in other countries make contacts,” said Calloway. “We’re here to help them do what they can.”

More than 60 Menace alumni have gone on to play professionally. The list includes Minnesota defender Justin Davis, who played all 90 minutes of his May 22 return.

RECAPPING LAST WEEKEND: In a Friday-Saturday doubleheader with division champion Thunder Bay (11-2-1), the Menace put its fans on an emotional rollercoaster with the post-season up for grabs.

Just 15 seconds into Friday’s match, Logan McDaniel goal gave the Menace the quick start it wanted. Notching a goal for the Chill in the 64th minute, Sullivan Silva tied up the match 1-1. Finally, Kasy Kiarash’s goal in stoppage time lifted the Menace to a 2-1 win to keep playoff hopes alive.

With the Menace able to control its own fate, Menace fans were optimistic about the season’s remaining matches. Rushing out of the gates again on Saturday, the Menace was gifted with an own goal in the second minute of the match.

Holding a lead for just 19 minutes the Menace gave up a successful penalty kick from Juan Velez. Drawing one point out of an eventual 1-1 draw wasn’t enough to keep the Menace in the playoff race. 

SCOUTING MINNESOTA: Currently in third place in the NASL, the Minnesota Stars is following up a championship season. The NASL is the second tier of American soccer, topped only by the MLS.

The team has scored 24 goals in its 16 games to this point. Amani Walker leads the team in points with 11 coming from four goals and three assists. Martin Nunez supports the team with four goals of his own and one assist on the season for nine points.

A week after its win in West Des Moines, the Stars upset Real Salt Lake (Major League Soccer), 3-1, in front of more than 17,000 fans in Utah. Minnesota’s Open Cup run ended a week later, with a 1-0, fourth-round loss at San Jose (MLS).

SCOUTING ST. LOUIS: With one game remaining it its season, St. Louis (3-10-2) is fighting to stay out of last place. Owning 11 points, the team is three ahead of WSA Winnipeg (1-8-5), which has two games left in the season.

The season series between Des Moines and St. Louis is split, with the Menace winning 4-1 at home on May 12 and the Lions claiming a 2-1 win two weeks later.

The Lions are led by Jamie Lovegrove (eight points) and Gerard John-Williams (seven points).

Through its 15 games, the Lions have given up 31 goals, seven more than any other team in the division.

SATURDAY’S PROMOTIONS: Prior to Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. match, the Menace women host Fort Wayne Sport Club at Valley Stadium at 4:30. Wearing red gets fans into both of the matches for just $5. Fireworks cap off Fan Appreciation Night, presented by Frito Lay.

UP NEXT: As the Menace men close their season on Sunday in St. Louis, the Menace women will host Indiana FC (South Bend) at Teamwork Acres in Waukee, starting at 4:30 p.m.

On July 21 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Menace women are set for a rematch with the Cincy Lady Saints at Withrow High School starting at 4 p.m. The following day, the team closes its season in Fort Wayne, Ind., at Jim Kelley Stadium, starting at 4 p.m.

^ = round  of Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
# = exhibition
All times are Central
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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