Photo credit: Collin Hemann
FENTON, Mo. – Wednesday, May 20, 2015 – Minnesota United FC gets a break from the Des Moines Menace in this year’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
By holding on for a 2-1, extra-time win over the Menace tonight, Saint Louis FC earns the chance to host Minnesota next Wednesday; the winner will advance to a fourth-round bout with a Major League Soccer team.
The shorthanded Menace came within striking distance of the franchise’s fourth straight year of facing the Loons in the Open Cup. Chris Hellmann smoothly converted on a penalty kick in the 85th minute, and the Menace forced OT – two 15-minute periods – on this unseasonably chilly night at World Wide Technology Soccer Park.
Bryan Gaul and Jermie Lynch scored for the home side, and goalkeeper Mark Pais – a member of the 2013 Menace team that upset Minnesota – got the best of his former club in Saint Louis FC’s Cup debut. The United Soccer League expansion team finished with a two-man advantage, after the Menace’s Charlie Bales (80th minute) and John Lujano (110th) were ejected from this second-round match.
Menace head coach Mike Matkovich thought his underdogs more than held their own.
“Playing a professional team, the guys did a good job of playing organized and playing smart,” Matkovich said. “I thought we could have had at least two or three goals in the first 40 minutes.
“The most important thing is we created chances. We gave away a couple goals, and we have to clean that up. This was a great opportunity for our guys to go up against the pros, and this experience will make us a better team.”
Hellmann’s match-tying PK was set up by Vince Cicciarelli, who won the ball on the left plank, beat his defender and was brought down just outside the six-yard box.
In the 107th minute, Cicciarelli and Hellmann teamed up to nearly even the match again. Collecting a well-place through-ball from Cicciarelli, Hellmann blasted an upper-shelf missile that smacked the side of the net, just outside the post.
Gaul, who saw action with the 2012 MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy, broke a scoreless tie in the 68th minute, chipping home a pass from Patrick Maher. Less than a minute later, Lynch almost doubled the lead, but Menace keeper Paul Blanchette used his left paw to parry away a would-be goal.
Lynch’s eventual game-winner came in the 97th minute, when he headed home his own rebound of a header that bounced off the cross-bar.
The pros came dangerously close to securing the win in the final seconds of regulation. Richard Dixon, a recent call-up to the Jamaican National Team, nearly scored on a header, but Blanchette heroically made a diving save to the opposite post.
For the third time in franchise history, the Menace (12-10 in Open Cup matches, including 6-8 against pro teams) worked overtime in the Open Cup. Unlike its previous extra-time encounters (2005 vs. Pittsburgh and 2012 at Milwaukee), Des Moines finished on the losing end tonight.
Matko’s Menace moves on to Premier Development League play, as the defending regular-season champs prepare to host WSA Winnipeg on Saturday.
“We reload, regroup and get ready for the league,” Matkovich said. “A match like this is only going to help us down the road.”
MAN of the MATCH: Chris Hellmann, a Germany native and Lynn University (Fla.) standout who returns to the Menace after a breakout season a year ago. In 2014, Hellmann was a finalist for PDL MVP after collecting 25 points on nine goals and seven assists.
UP NEXT: MENACE DOUBLEHEADER AT VALLEY STADIUM
- This Saturday, the Menace hosts its 2015 first double header, with the women facing the Minnesota TwinStars at 4:30 p.m. in their Women’s Premier Soccer League season opener
- The men take on WSA Winnipeg under the lights at 7:30.
- The matches are presented by Gatorade, and magnet schedules (sponsored by Frito Lay and Kum & Go) will be available to early-arriving fans.
Match: Des Moines Menace at Saint Louis FC
Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Competition: 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, second round
Venue: World Wide Technology Soccer Park (turf) in Fenton, Mo.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CDT
Scoring Summary: 1 2 OT F
MENACE 0 1 0 1
SLFC 0 1 1 2
MENACE – Chris Hellmann PK 85:00
SLFC – Bryan Gaul (Parker Maher) 68:00; Jermie Lynch 97:00
Stats Summary: MENACE / SLFC
Shots: 13 / 22
Saves: 5 / 2
Corner Kicks: 7 / 8
Offside: 0 / 0
Misconduct Summary: Cautions: MENACE – Daniel Johnson 11:00; Gerald Ben 32:00; Austin Polster 35:00; C. Nortey 40:00; John Lujano 71:00; SLFC – James Musa 78:00; Patrick Doody 90:00+; Ejection: MENACE – Charlie Bales 80:00; Lujano (second yellow) 110:00
ABOUT THE MENACE: The Des Moines Menace provides the highest level of soccer in Iowa. Entering its 22nd season, the Menace men’s side competes in the 63-team United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League (PDL). The Menace’s women’s team, preparing for its fourth season, is part of the 80-team Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL). From May to July, 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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