The Menace players and the Red Army supporters group celebrate Sean Hoek's first-half equalizer. Photo credit: Art Schramm / Wing Nutt Photography
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 – To secure its fifth-straight berth in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the Des Moines Menace needs just one more victory.
With a 4-2, come-from-behind win over the Kansas City Athletics today at Valley Stadium, the Menace advances in the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) National Cups, Region II Tournament. In one week, the Menace hosts RWB Adria (Ill.) in the regional tournament’s semifinals.
The Menace found its rhythm in the second half of today’s opening-round triumph. After trailing 2-1 at the break, Des Moines turned it on with goals in the 50th, 53rd and 55th minutes. Rodrigo Espriu scored the game-winner and added an insurance goal.
“I think, in the beginning, we knew what we had to do but couldn’t find the finishing touch,” Espriu said.
He found that touch, scoring back-to-back goals from short range. Each of his scores was unassisted. For the final one, he dribbled about 20 yards, found himself in a 1-v-3 situation, and split the defenders to score.
“You need to be ready,” Espriu said. “The chances were going to come. I knew I was going to score as soon as I had the chance.”
This was the teams’ third meeting in the last four years. In the previous encounters, the visiting team finished on top. In 2010, Kansas City won a shootout following a 4-4 match; Des Moines struck back with a 7-1 win the next year.
In the early going today, the Athletics continued the trend of road-team success. They took a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute, when Michael Ferguson drilled a laser from 30 yards out.
Des Moines responded in the 41st minute. Sean Hoek volleyed in a corner kick from Ben Taylor, and it looked like the score would be 1-1 at the half. Kansas City’s Josh Westberg had other plans, scoring in stoppage time.
The Menace found the equalizer five minutes into the second half, and never looked back. A well-placed long ball from captain Jack Pearson connected with Michael Noonan in stride, and Noonan beat former Major League Soccer goalkeeper Boris Pardo.
“I thought the game was well-contested,” Menace head coach Mike Jeffries said. “KC did a good job, testing us with their shape and their formations.
“We were wasteful in the first half, and we felt like, in the second half, we would make the little adjustments.”
They did, and it paid off. Des Moines goes on to play RWB (Red, White, Blue) Adria,a well-established Chicago-area team that last weekend opened the tournament with a 4-1 road win over the Milwaukee Bavarians. RWB Adria has made three appearances in the U.S. Open Cup, including a close loss to USL-Pro Pittsburgh this year.
“I’m sure it will be very tough,” Jeffries said. “They’re one of the top men’s league teams across the country.”
MAN of the MATCH, presented by Seneca Companies, goes to: Rodrigo Espriu, whose back-to-back strikes put away the match. Espriu, a native of Acapulco, Mexico, played for the 2012 Menace. As a junior this fall, he scored five goals for the AIB Eagles.
NEXT UP: Des Moines hosts RWB Adria on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. The winner is guaranteed a place in the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Admission for the semifinal match at Valley Stadium is $5 for ages 19 and older. Menace season-ticket members and ages 18 and younger will receive free admission.
Illinois teams Schwaben AC and the A.A.C. Eagles face off in the other semifinal. The tournament’s two finalists receive berths in the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Match: Kansas City Athletics at Des Moines Menace
Date: Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013
Competition: United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) National Cups, Region II Tournament, quarterfinals
Venue: Valley Stadium (turf field) in West Des Moines, Iowa
Kickoff: 2 p.m. CST
Weather: 60s, sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
MENACE 1 3 4
KC 2 0 2
MENACE – Sean Hoek (Ben Taylor) 41:00; Michael Noonan (Jack Pearson) 50:00; Rodrigo Espriu 53:00; Espriu 55:00
KC – Michael Ferguson 18:00; Josh Westberg 45:00+
Misconduct Summary: MENACE – Ben Taylor 49:00; KC – Garrett Webb 58:00
ABOUT THE MENACE: The Des Moines Menace provides the highest level of soccer in Iowa. Entering its 21st season, the Menace men’s side competes in the 65-team United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League (PDL). The Menace’s women’s team played in the 2013 Women’s Premier Soccer League playoffs, after debuting as the Women’s League Soccer 2012 champions. 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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