The first meeting between the Menace and K-W United FC ended with fans swarming shootout hero Brandon Fricke on the Menace's home field. A year later, the teams reunite on neutral ground.
PONTIAC, Mich. – Friday, July 24, 2015 – Ten years ago, the Des Moines Menace put the star on its logo by winning the Premier Development League championship.
With two wins this weekend, the Menace can keep alive its hopes for adding a second star.
The Menace’s quest for another title begins tonight at Ultimate Soccer Arenas – the home of the Michigan Bucks, who have followed their 2014 PDL championship with the league’s 2015 regular-season title. In the Central Conference semifinals, Des Moines rematches with K-W United FC at 5:30 EDT, preceding a semifinal between the Bucks and the Thunder Bay Chill.
Tonight’s victors will tangle tomorrow night in the Central Conference Championship, whose winner will move on the four-team Premier Development League Championship, to be played July 31 and Aug. 2 at a site to be determined.
Last year, Des Moines ousted K-W United in a thriller that went the distance at Valley Stadium. Following 120 scoreless minutes, Menace keeper Paul Blanchette stopped two shots in a shootout and captain Brandon Fricke put away the clinching kick to see the Menace through to the conference final. Michigan dispatched the Menace the next night, 2-0, and celebrated its second PDL title the following weekend on its home turf.
The Menace (11-2-1) closed the season by winning a franchise-record eight straight matches to repeat as Heartland Division champion for the first time, paving the way to its 13th playoff appearance in 22 seasons.
K-W United (11-1-2) is making its second playoff appearance in the organization’s fifth season. To get to Pontiac, K-W won a Tuesday-night play-in match, 2-0, over Forest City London in Waterloo, Ont. Carrying an 11-match unbeaten streak, K-W United (11-2-1) has not lost since May 31.
Michigan (11-1-2) is the only PDL franchise with more wins (234) and playoff appearances (18) than the Menace. These PDL behemoths have met six times in the postseason with Michigan holding a 5-1 advantage. The Menace’s lone win over Michigan was part of the run to the 2005 title. The Bucks have ended the Menace’s last two playoff runs and three of its last four.
Thunder Bay (9-2-3) returns to the playoffs after missing out last year for the first time since 2006. The Chill, which has claimed six Heartland Division titles, has appeared in the PDL championship final three times, winning it all in 2008 and earning second place in 2010 and 2013.
PDL Central Conference Championship
Venue: Ultimate Soccer Arenas (indoor turf), Pontiac, Mich.
Semifinal 1: Des Moines Menace vs. K-W United
Date and time: Friday, July 24 at 5:30 p.m. EDT
Semifinal 2: Thunder Bay Chill at Michigan Bucks
Date and time: Friday, July 24 at 8 p.m. EDT
Final: Winner of Semifinal 1 vs. Winner of Semifinal 2
Date and time: Saturday, July 25 at 7:30 p.m. EDT
ABOUT THE MENACE
- 11-2-1, first place in the Heartland Division.
- Closed its 22nd season with an all-time PDL regular-season mark of 210-115-33.
- Chris Hellmann leads the team with 16 points (six goals and four assists).
- Mark Heath-Preston has five goals in seven matches (209 minutes); Vince Cicciarelli also has five goals (including a pair of two-goal performances).
- Has let in only seven goals, a mark bested by only one PDL team – the Kitsap Pumas, who have conceded four goals in 12 matches.
- Guided by first-year head coach Mike Matkovich, a former Major League Soccer coach who is assisted by Tony Jouaux and Jeremy Proud.
ABOUT K-W UNITED FC
- 11-2-1, second place in Great Lakes Division.
- 11-match unbeaten streak (last loss was at 3-1 at home on May 31 to Forest City London).
- The only PDL team with six road wins.
- Sergio Camargo – ranked sixth in PDL in overall points – leads the team in points (21) on eight goals and five assists, with Ben Polk right behind (20) on nine goals and two assists.
- Earned this weekend’s spot with a 2-0 home win on Tuesday in a play-in match against Forest City London (the Great Lakes Division’s third-place team). Both goals came from Polk in the second half.
- Makes its second-straight (and second overall in five seasons) postseason appearance, after bowing out to the Menace in last year’s first-round shootout.
- Led by head coach Chris Pozniak.
ABOUT THE BUCKS
- 11-1-2, first place in the Great Lakes Division, the Central Conference and the PDL.
- Defending PDL champions (also won it in 2006): On Aug. 3, 2014, home-side Michigan defeated the Kitsap Pumas, 1-0. Tom Owens’ 59th-minute goal was the championship-winner.
- The PDL’s all-time leader with 234 wins and 18 playoff appearances (in 20 seasons). The Menace is second in the league with 210 wins and 13 playoff berths.
- Lead the league with a 34-goal differential and 46 goals scored.
- Have outscored foes 18-1 at home (6-0-1)
- Unbeaten in four straight since a 3-1 loss at K-W United on July 1 that snapped an undefeated start (8-0-1).
- David Goldsmith, who scored both goals in Michigan’s 2-0 win over Des Moines in the 2014 playoffs, ranks fourth in the PDL with 24 points on 10 goals and four assists.
- Calvin Rezende leads the league with 11 assists.
- Demir Muftari is in his third season as head coach.
ABOUT THE CHILL
- 9-2-3, second in the Heartland Division.
- On a four-match winning streak following three straight winless matches to close June (3-3 tie at St. Louis on June 24, 2-0 loss at Des Moines on June 27, 3-1 loss at Springfield on June 29).
- PDL champion in 2008 and finalist in 2010 and 2013.
- Returns to the PDL Playoffs after making the postseason every year from 2007 to 2013.
- Brandon Swartzendruber is ranked 12th in the PDL for points (20) on nine goals and two assists, and is ranked tenth in the league for goals scored. He scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Des Moines on June 19.
- Giovanni Petraglia is in his first season as head coach, succeeding Tony Colistro who was head coach for the franchise’s first 15 seasons.
MENACE VS. K-W UNITED FC
- In their only meeting, Des Moines ousted K-W United from the Central Conference Playoffs in a dramatic penalty shootout following 120 scoreless minutes at Valley Stadium on July 25, 2014.
MENACE VS. BUCKS
- Michigan has stacking the series lead at 5-1 (all postseason).
- Most recent meeting was last year on July 26 in the Central Conference Finals (a 2-0 Michigan win).
- Michigan bucked the Menace from the playoffs in 1997, 2002, 2003, 2011 and 2014.
- Michigan has dealt the Menace its only two road playoff losses since 1998 (in 2003 and 2011).
- In its run to the 2005 PDL title, Des Moines defeated Michigan 4-1 on July 30 at Waukee Stadium.
MENACE VS. CHILL
- The Menace leads the series 26-24-4, boosting the win column with three wins last season.
- The teams split a pair of 2-0 matches this season, with the home team prevailing each time. The Chill won on June 19, and the Menace won eight days later.
- For the first time since 2006-07, the Menace is on a three-game home winning streak against its arch-rival.
- Each of the conferences (Central, Eastern, Western and Southern) will be represented in the final four.
- Also hosting conference championships are New York Red Bulls U23 (Eastern) the Mississippi Brilla (Southern) and FC Tucson (Western).
- This weekend's winners advance to the PDL Championships on July 31 and Aug. 2.
MENACE IN THE PLAYOFFS
- Enters its 13th playoff appearance with an all-time postseason mark of 14-13.
- Makes back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since 2005-06
- Has never gone more than two straight seasons without qualifying for the playoffs.
- Returns to the site of its most recent postseason road match: Inside Ultimate Soccer Arenas, the Bucks edged the Menace 3-2 in overtime on July 29, 2011 in a Central Conference semifinal match.
- Des Moines is 6-2 in neutral matches, 1-4 in away matches and 7-7 at home.
CHRISTMAS IN JULY
- The Menace’s two most recent playoff wins have come on July 25 (last year against K-W United and in 2009, 2-1 over Real Colorado).
DOMINANT YEAR FOR MENACE
- Repeated as Heartland Division champion.
- Leads the PDL with 23 wins in the last two seasons.
- Riding a 15-match home unbeaten streak (since a 2-1 loss to Real Colorado on July 13, 2013).
- Boasting an eight-match winning streak (since a 2-0 loss at Thunder Bay on June 19).
- 21-goal home differential (23-2) leads PDL.
- Allowed seven goals this season, second in the PDL to only the Kitsap Pumas, who have let in only four goals in 12 matches.
- Scored 38 goals (including 10 in a shutout win over Chicago on July 17), for the team’s best average per game (2.7) since the 2005 champions averaged three goals (48 in 16 regular-season matches).
MENACE 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.
- Chris Hellmann was named PDL Player of the Week on July 22.
- Brett Lane and Lubos Kubik received honorable mention on July 22.
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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