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One victory from Heartland title

Leigh Veidman (20) shares the Menace's points lead with Chris Hellmann. Veidman scored the team's lone goal in a 2-1 loss at Chicago on June 9. Photo credit: Antonio Rodriguez
 
 
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Thursday, July 16, 2015 – Dousing the flames of Chicago Fire U23 just once this weekend would allow the Des Moines Menace to repeat as Heartland Division champion.
 
The playoff-bound Menace hosts Chicago in a critical Friday-Saturday doubleheader at Valley Stadium, with both Premier Development League matches kicking off at 7:30 p.m.
 
The Menace (9-2-1, 28 points) solidified a playoff spot on Tuesday with a 2-0 win at Springfield. Thunder Bay (7-2-3, 24 points) is on the prowl for a playoff spot, ending its season with a Friday-Saturday doubleheader at winless Winnipeg. In third place, Chicago (6-4-2, 20 points) is still a contender after a couple recent losses to Thunder Bay, but fate is out of the Fire’s hands.
 
Menace head coach Mike Matkovich will host his former team for the first time tomorrow, and payback is in the eyes of the Menace after Chicago made good on a pair of penalty kicks to beat the Menace, 2-1, on June 9 at Toyota Park. This is the first time Chicago has visited Des Moines since 2011, when the Fire ousted the Menace from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
 
Des Moines is part of a four-team Central Conference playoff set for July 24-25 at a site to be determined.
 

 
Chicago Fire U23 at Des Moines Menace
Date and Time: Friday, July 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Valley Stadium (turf) in West Des Moines, Iowa
Competition: Premier Development League regular season
Promotions: Postgame fireworks
 
 
Chicago Fire U23 at Des Moines Menace
Date and Time: Saturday, July 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Valley Stadium (turf) in West Des Moines, Iowa
Competition: Premier Development League regular season
Promotions: Fan Appreciation Night
 

 
ABOUT THE MENACE
-       9-2-1, first place in the Heartland Division.
-       Unbeaten in its last 13 PDL home matches (since a 2-1 loss to Real Colorado on July 13, 2013).
-       On a six-match winning streak – one shy of the franchise record (2004).
-       Entered its 22nd season with an all-time PDL regular-season mark of 199-113-32.
-       The defending PDL regular-season champion (12-1-1).
-       Chris Hellmann and Leigh Veidman lead the team with eight points (three goals and two assists).
-       Vince Cicciarelli and Mark Heath-Preston are on six points with three goals apiece.
-       Has let in only seven goals, a mark bested by only one PDL team – the Kitsap Pumas, who have conceded only four goals.
-       Guided by first-year head coach Mike Matkovich, a former Major League Soccer coach who is assisted by Tony Jouaux and Jeremy Proud.
 
ABOUT THE FIRE
-       In third place at 6-4-2.
-       Chicago returns to the Heartland Division after competing in the Great Lakes Division the last 10 seasons.
-       Joey Calistri leads the team with 15 points (seven goals and one assist).
-       Most recent match was a 3-0 win at Winnipeg Soccer Complex on June 10.
-       Led by head coach Brian Bliss.
-       Mike Matkovich coached Chicago from 2002-2006 and compiled an impressive 71-8-7 record.
-       In 2014, Matkovich returned for a season that ended at 7-5-2.
-       During his time with Chicago’s PDL side, Matkovich coached future U.S. World Cup players Jay DeMerit, Ricardo Clark and Brad Guzan, as well as several future MLS mainstays.
 
ALL-TIME SERIES
-       Chicago leads the series 4-2-2.
-       The aggregate score is at 10-9, in Chicago’s favor.
-       Des Moines fell to Chicago 2-1 on the road on June 9, with Leigh Veidman scoring the Menace’s lone goal.
-       Before meeting this season, the last meeting was June 14, 2011 in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, where the Fire prevailed in a 1-0 victory at Valley Stadium.
-       Chicago was in the Heartland Division in the team’s first four seasons (2001-2004).
-       The Menace picked up a pair of 2-0 home wins against Chicago (July 4, 2001 and May 10, 2003).
 
PDL HONOR ROLL
-       Mark Heath Preston was named to the PDL Team of the Week on May 20.
-       C. Nortey received honorable mention on May 27.
-       Alec Bartlett received honorable mention on June 3.
-       Vince Cicciarelli and Leigh Veidman received honorable mention on June 17.
-       Brett Lane received honorable mention on June 24.
-       Fernando Machado was named to the PDL Team of the Week on July 1.
-       Leigh Veidman and Shawn Claud Lawson received honorable mention on July 1.
-       Vince Cicciarelli received honorable mention on July 15.
 
RECAP FROM RECENT MATCHES
-       Goals from Ramone Howell, Leigh Veidman, Vince Cicciarelli, and Mark Heath Preston gave the Menace a 4-1 home win last Saturday against the St. Louis Lions.
-       Garet Christianson and Brett Lane scored on the road against Springfield on Tuesday to help the Menace clinch a spot in the PDL playoffs.
 
UP NEXT: PLAYOFFS
-       The Menace will compete in the four-team PDL Central Conference Playoff on July 24-25, with the winner advancing to the PDL’s championship weekend (July 31 and August 2).
-       Des Moines has earned back-to-back postseason berths for the first time since winning the PDL championship in 2005 and returning to the playoffs in 2006.
 
 
ABOUT THE MENACE: The Des Moines Menace provides the highest level of soccer in Iowa. In 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, part of the 80-team Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL), has completed its fourth season. 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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