Leading 2-0 with 10 minutes left on the clock, it looked like the Des Moines Menace might just break a string of ties against the St. Louis Lions. Instead, the visitors stunned 3,826 Valley Stadium fans tonight by fighting back for a 2-2 draw – the fourth straight tie between these Heartland Division rivals, who share 3-0-2 records to open the Premier Development League season.
The Lions’ David Mueller emerged as the hero when he scored the equalizer in the fifth and final minute of stoppage time, after assisting Mike Utley in the 81st minute.
The match – a repeat of last Saturday’s 2-2 draw between these teams on the Lions’ home field – was marked by 29 fouls, including six yellow cards and the second-half ejections of the Lions’ Steven Beattie (51st minute) and the Menace’s Brian Beckford (67th).
“It’s disappointing,” said Des Moines head coach Casey Mann. “We lost control, and that red card played a big role.
“It hurts, but we want to turn this into motivation,” Mann said. “We’re still undefeated. We’ve got a good group working together well. Our guys are still learning how tough this league is.”
Things were looking good for the Menace when Jacob Schmoker gave the team its two-goal lead in the 55th minute.
The Menace was up at the half, thanks to veteran Ross Moffat’s second goal of the season, which Ben Taylor assisted in the 13th minute. Taylor (6 points) and Moffat (4 points) are the only Menace players with more than 2 points through five matches.
St. Louis outshot Des Moines 13-5, with a 9-3 advantage in the second half. The Menace’s Sean Molony kept the Lions’ momentum at bay when he saved a penalty kick from Martin Clayes in the minute before Schmoker’s score.
This was the sixth tie in 10 meetings between these clubs. The Lions came back from a 2-1 deficit a week ago to force a tie and clinch the division’s spot in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, edging the Menace on goal differential.
“We need to put these games behind us,” Mann said. “It’s tough to swallow. We don’t feel they took it from us; we gave it to them.”
These teams won’t see each other again until their July 18 season finale, back at Valley Stadium. The Menace is still looking for its first home win against Tony Glavin’s team, which leads the all-time series, 3-1-6.
RETIRED NUMBER: The Menace celebrated the career of the franchise’s all-time leading scorer tonight on Tomas Boltnar Night. In a halftime ceremony, the team unveiled the retired No. 21 jersey that will be displayed at all future home matches. Boltnar, a crowd favorite from the Czech Republic, starred for the Menace from 2002-2008. He was the PDL MVP in 2002 and 2003.
COMING UP: The Menace travels to Liberty, Mo., on Thursday to play the Kansas City Brass at William Jewell College. Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. for the teams’ first meeting of the season. The Menace swept last season’s series with Kansas City last year, 3-0, and leads the all-time series, 9-3.
The Menace returns to Valley Stadium next Saturday (June 6), hosting the Winnipeg Lions for an exhibition that starts a string of three straight matches against Canadian teams. Des Moines heads to Ontario to battle the defending PDL champion Thunder Bay Chill on June 12 and 13.
ABOUT THE MENACE: In its 16th season as Iowa’s Premier Soccer Team, the Menace competes in the 68-team Premier Development League (PDL), the highest amateur level of the United Soccer Leagues (USL). The Menace plays its home matches in a fun, family-friendly environment at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines.
For information on the Menace organization and its youth-soccer programs, please visit MenaceSoccer.com.
Bold = home match played at 7:30 p.m. at Valley Stadium
Italics = exhibition match
# = U.S. Open Cup qualifying match
Saturday, May 2 vs. Des Moines Latinos United W, 7-1
# Saturday, May 9 vs. Rochester Thunder W, 2-1
# Wednesday, May 13 at Springfield Demize W, 3-1
# Saturday, May 16 vs. Real Colorado Foxes W, 1-0
# Saturday, May 23 at St. Louis Lions T, 2-2
Saturday, May 30 vs. St. Louis Lions T, 2-2
Thursday, June 4 at Kansas City Brass
Saturday, June 6 vs. Winnipeg Lions
Friday, June 12 at Thunder Bay Chill
Saturday, June 13 at Thunder Bay Chill
Saturday, June 20 vs. Kansas City Brass
Saturday, June 27 vs. Springfield Demize
Sunday, June 28 at Rochester Thunder
Saturday, July 4 vs. Thunder Bay Chill
Wednesday, July 8 at Rochester Thunder
Saturday, July 11 vs. Springfield Demize
Thursday, July 16 at Kansas City Brass
Saturday, July 18 vs. St. Louis Lions