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Recapping the 2012 Menace PDL season

Jubril Lawal jumped into the arms of Javi Lopez when the team celebrated Charlie Bales' goal in a 4-1 win over Springfield on June 30. The team finished strong, but couldn't overcome a slow start.
 
 
For the Des Moines Menace, the 2012 Premier Development League ended too soon.

Just when the team was gelling, just when things were clicking and just when the Menace was playing its best soccer, everything screeched to an abrupt halt in mid-July. The team battled before falling one point shy of the franchise’s 12th playoff berth.

“The team came together at the end,” said Laurie Calloway, reflecting on his fifth and final season as the Menace’s head coach. “You could see the team was going to be a contender. There’s no doubt that this team could’ve made a run in the playoffs. We were as good as anybody in the division.”

Under pressure to win and stay in the playoff race, the Menace went unbeaten in its final four – and eight of its last 10 – regular-season matches.

Des Moines’ 8-5-3 finish (27 points) came oh-so-close to topping Real Colorado’s 8-4-4 record that secured the Heartland Division’s second and final playoff spot, behind first-place Thunder Bay.

“We were peeking at the right moment,” said midfielder Logan McDaniel. “We were much more collective. We had found our strengths and were really starting to come together.”

McDaniel, the team’s most valuable player who paced Des Moines with five goals and five assists, looked back on the season and what almost was.

“Something that stands out for me is how close-knit our team was,” McDaniel said. “We were close on the field and off it. The team chemistry was real good. Unfortunately, we weren’t together at the start of the season.”


 McDaniel, a 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft Pick, provided veteran leadership.

The season didn't just end too soon for the Menace. You could say it also began too soon.

Des Moines opened with a 1-1 tie against Real Colorado on May 4, the franchise’s earliest opener in 10 years. That opening-day lineup faintly resembled the side that fans would see weeks later. Most of the players in the starting lineup at the end of the season did not join the team until after the Menace had dropped a pair of 1-0 decisions to Real Colorado (May 5) and Springfield (May 9).

“We lost eight points in the first week of the season,” Calloway lamented.

Still, the team ultimately controlled its postseason destiny as it headed into its final home action.

After keeping its playoff hopes alive with a 4-1 win over Springfield on June 30, Des Moines hosted arch-rival Thunder Bay for a pivotal July 6-7 doubleheader at Valley Stadium. The Chill had already clinched the division title; the Menace could stay in playoff contention by getting results and getting some help from second-place Real Colorado as the Foxes entered their final two matches – in Kansas City that same weekend.

The Menace responded to the challenge and made things exciting. Heading into second-half stoppage time of the July 6 match, the Menace was a team on a mission. Tied with the Chill 1-1, the team had heard news of Real Colorado’s loss that night. A Menace win would put Calloway’s side in the driver’s seat for the division’s final playoff spot.

Dakota Collins and Kasy Kiarash rose to the occasion. The speedy Collins created a breakaway opportunity in the final minutes. He slotted the ball for Kiarash, who found himself in alone in a 1v1 contest with Chill goalkeeper Stephen Patterson. In stride, Kiarash gave the ball a couple touches and calmly chipped it past the onrushing keeper. A frenzied celebration ensued, and the home team held on for the 2-1 triumph.

The game-winning goal (pictured below), arguably the defining moment of the Menace’s season, was a sequel of sorts. In their Menace regular-season debuts less than a week before, Collins and Kiarash had connected for a stoppage-time goal that closed the scoring in the June 30 win. Kiarash, who coaches for his former team at Graceland, had trained with the Menace since the preseason. Given the opportunity to take the field, he made an instant impact, heroically delivering two goals in 77 minutes of playing time.

 
Spirits were high after the suspenseful win. The Menace controlled its fate. If the team could win its final two regular-season matches, Des Moines would make a repeat trip to the PDL playoffs.

Spirits soared even higher in the opening minutes of the July 7 rematch with Thunder Bay. An own goal by the visitors spotted the Menace a 1-0 lead in the second minute, 24 hours after McDaniel had put his team in a similar position by scoring just 15 seconds – yes, really, just 15 seconds – into the Friday-night win.

The Chill answered with a penalty kick in the 21st minute. That was the final goal of the match – a 1-1 result that wasn’t quite enough for the Menace. In the postgame locker room, Calloway and his team learned that Real Colorado, which had lost to Kansas City 5-0 the previous night, had turned the tables in a 3-0 win that secured the Foxes’ playoff spot – one year after getting edged by Des Moines.

The season ended the following weekend with a return to St. Louis – the site of a 2-1 loss on Memorial Day weekend. This time around, Des Moines controlled the match and found payback in a decisive 4-1 victory on July 15 that finished things on a positive note.

“You could see they’re coming together,” Menace head coach Laurie Calloway said of his players after their final match. “Tremendous team spirit. Unfortunately, it’s too late. We’re happy with the guys but sad that we couldn’t go further.

“I’m very proud of the players. They did their best and tried their hardest to the end.”
 
Highlights from the 2012 season:

SUCCESS IN OPEN CUP: The Menace made its seventh – and third-straight – trip to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, advancing to the second round. Lebogang Moloto scored two overtime goals to lift visiting Des Moines over the Milwaukee Bavarians, 3-1, on May 15. A week later, Minnesota Stars FC knocked out the Menace. A 2-0 win at Valley Stadium sent the defending North American Soccer League champions to a third-round showdown with Real Salt Lake. The Stars shocked their Major League Soccer foes, 3-1, in front of more than 17,000 fans on May 29. Their Open Cup ride came to an end the following week, in a 1-0 loss to San Jose (MLS).

HOPIN’ CUP: If the United States Soccer Federation keeps the same format for the 2013 Open Cup, the Menace will make its fourth-straight appearance in the national tournament. The USSF expanded the tournament field from 40 teams to 64 in 2012. This meant starting the Cup in mid-May – a month earlier than in previous years. It also meant that amateur teams like the Menace qualified for the tournament based on their record the prior season. In the past, PDL teams had qualified based on select league matches played in May. Under the current structure, the top two American teams from each of the PDL’s nine divisions get into the prestigious event.

COACH SETS WINS MARK: Calloway became the franchise’s all-time winningest coach, when the Menace won 1-0 at Springfield on June 14. The win was the veteran coach’s 49th with the Menace, topping Casey Mann, who was 48-19-13 from 2005 to 2009. Calloway, who spent two stints in Des Moines (2001-02 and 2010-12), guided the Menace to a 52-19-13 mark, including an undefeated 15-0-3 season that earned him 2002 PDL Coach of the Year honors. The former Major League Soccer coach is 232-160-48 in his career.
 
HUSE GETS HAT TRICK: It took just 12 minutes for Husref Jupic to score three goals in the Menace’s 4-1 home win over St. Louis on May 12. The performance came exactly five years after the franchise’s most recent hat trick, turned in by the legendary Tomas Boltnar, who coached Jupic in his days as a promising youth star with the Des Moines Menace Academy. Jupic continued the magic with a goal in the team’s Open Cup win three days later. Unfortunately, his season ended with an ACL injury in the team’s Open Cup loss on May 22.

Jupic (center) celebrates his third goal of the second half of the May 12 win.

WINNING AT HOME:
In a streak that ran from May 12 to July 6, the Menace won five straight regular-season matches at Valley Stadium. The team was 5-1-2 at home in 2012, one year after finishing 7-1-0 on its West Des Moines pitch.


SPOTLIGHTING PLAYERS:  For the second year in a row, the team highlighted a Menace player each week, with “Player Spotlight” video and feature stories on MenaceSoccer.com, and after every game, selecting the Mr. B “Man of the Match.”

Logan McDaniel, whose 15 points set him apart as the only member of the 2012 Menace to collect more than seven points, was named Man of the Match on three occasions. Charlie Bales, Brandon Fricke and Lebogang Moloto each received the post-game honor twice.

With a balanced attack, the Menace posted a 30-22 goal differential. In addition to Husref Jupic’s hat trick, the team received two-goal games from three players. Javi Lopez, Luis Piffer and Jordan Schmoker each recorded braces in Menace wins.

Related link: Final 2012 statistics

OPEN CUP REMATCH: The team closed its home schedule with a familiar foe. Minnesota Stars FC returned to Valley Stadium for a July 14 exhibition. Nearly two months after winning 2-0 in the Open Cup’s second round, the professionals prevailed by an identical score. The night ended with a bang, with fireworks capping off Fan Appreciation Night in front of a season-high 4,065 fans.

Thank you, Menace fans, for your continued support!

Des Moines Menace Final 2012 PDL Results
(8-5-3 PDL: 5-1-2 at home and 3-4-1 on the road)

Friday, May 4             Real Colorado Foxes           T, 1-1
Saturday, May 5         Real Colorado Foxes           L, 0-1
Wednesday, May 9     at Springfield Demize             L, 0-1
Saturday, May 12       St. Louis Lions                      W, 4-1
Tuesday, May 15        at Milwaukee Bavarians ^       W, 3-1, OT
Friday, May 19           Kansas City Brass                W, 3-2
Tuesday, May 22       Minnesota Stars FC ^^         L, 0-2
Saturday, May 26        at St. Louis Lions                    L, 1-2
 
Friday, June 1             at WSA Winnipeg                   W, 4-1
Saturday, June 2         at WSA Winnipeg                   T, 2-2
Saturday, June 9       Kansas City Brass                W, 2-1
Thursday, June 14      at Springfield Demize             W, 1-0
Saturday, June 16     Colorado Select #                 W, 2-0
Friday, June 22           at Thunder Bay Chill               L, 1-3
Saturday, June 23       at Thunder Bay Chill               L, 0-3
Saturday, June 30     Springfield Demize              W, 4-1
 
Friday, July 6             Thunder Bay Chill                W, 2-1
Saturday, July 7         Thunder Bay Chill                T, 1-1
Saturday, July 14       Minnesota Stars FC #          L, 0-2
Sunday, July 15           at St. Louis Lions                    W, 4-1
 
^ = round of Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
# = exhibition
 
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, in its inaugural season, 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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