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Pursuing postseason payback in Pontiac

Christian Okeke and the Menace closed the 2016 regular season by winning this match last Saturday, 2-1 over St. Louis. Photo credit: Joe Sprunger
 
 
PONTIAC, Mich. – Thursday, July 21, 2016 – Hoping to host a Premier Development League semifinal on July 30, the Des Moines Menace needs to bring home a pair of wins from Michigan this weekend to even make this a possibility.
 
The first test comes tomorrow at 5 p.m. EDT, when the Menace takes on defending PDL champion K-W United FC in the Central Conference semifinals at Ultimate Soccer Arenas.
 
For the third year in a row, Des Moines and K-W United meet in the semis. Like last year, a reunion between the Menace and K-W precedes the matchup of the Thunder Bay Chill and the host Michigan Bucks. Tomorrow’s winners clash in the conference final on Saturday.
 
The Menace could get a couple opportunities for retribution this weekend: K-W and Michigan (2014) have eliminated Des Moines from the playoffs the last two years. The Menace ousted K-W from the 2014 postseason, and K-W dispatched Great Lakes Division rival Michigan in 2015.
 
All four teams competing this weekend in Pontiac have won a PDL championship. K-W United’s 2015 title came a year after the Bucks won their second title. The Chill won it all in 2008 – two years after the Bucks’ first league crown and three years after the 2005 Menace added a star to the club’s logo.
 

 
Premier Development League Playoffs: Central Conference Championship
Venue: Ultimate Soccer Arenas (indoor, turf) in Pontiac, Mich.
 
Semifinal 1: Des Moines Menace vs. K-W United
Date and time: Friday, July 22 at 5 p.m. EDT
 
Semifinal 2: Thunder Bay Chill at Michigan Bucks
Date and time: Friday, July 22 at 7:30 p.m. EDT
 
Final: Winner of Semifinal 1 vs. Winner of Semifinal 2
Date and time: Saturday, July 23 at 7:30 p.m. EDT
 
Live updates: www.twitter.com/MenaceSoccer  
 

 
ABOUT THE MENACE
  • 10-2-2 – the PDL Heartland Division champion for the third straight year.
  • Has won five division titles (2002, 2009, 2014, 2015 and 2016)
  • In a three-way tie with K-W United FC and the Villages SC for the PDL’s third-most goals scored (37, trailing Michigan’s 45 and FC Tucson’s 38).
  • Tied with Michigan for the fewest goals allowed (seven).
  • With nine and seven goals, respectively, captain Leigh Veidman and Tommy Barlow lead the Menace’s offense. Devyn Jambga’s five assists top the Menace.
  • Goalkeeper Nico Campbell has a 0.44 Goals Against Average in nine matches; Jake Leeker has allowed three goals in his three net-minding appearances.
  • Undefeated in 22 straight regular-season home matches going back to July 2013.
  • Led by second-year head coach Mike Matkovich, who is assisted by Greg Hennelly and Chris Rennie, as well as player-coaches Mark Heath-Preston and Leigh Veidman.
 
ABOUT K-W UNITED FC
  • Reigning PDL champion – On Aug. 2, 2015 in Tukwila, Wash., K-W  hoisted the cup after a 4-3 win over New York Red Bulls U23.
  • Went 5-0-0 in last year’s postseason, one year after finishing on the losing end of a first-round shootout on the Menace’s home turf.
  • Represents the Kitchener-Waterloo region in Ontario, Canada; Franchise started as the Hamilton Rage in 2010, and relocated and rebranded following the 2012 season.
  • Finished second in the Great Lakes Division with the losses in its 11-2-1 mark coming from Michigan (6-0 on May 21 in Michigan and 3-2 on July 1 at home).
  • Sven Konig leads the team with 12 goals; followed by Jahsua Mills (five) and Sergio Camargo (four).
  •  Head coach Chris Pozniak, a pro soccer player from 1999-2012, is assisted by Luke Holder.
 
ABOUT THE BUCKS
  • 2016 PDL regular-season champions (12-2-0 – first in the Great Lakes Division for the third time in a row); also had the league’s best record in 2000, 2008, 2012 and 2015.
  • Have made the PDL Playoffs 19 of their 21 seasons.
  • With 12 goals, Russel Cicerone leads the team; Benjamin Fitzpatrick and Andre Landell have nine apiece.
  • Drew Shepherd (0.33 GAA in nine games) and Tom Lohmann (0.60 GAA in five) have shared time between the pipes.
  • Closed its regular season with seven straight wins, and a 9-0 crushing of Pittsburgh Riverhounds U23 on July 16.
  • Has outscored guests 27-0 in home matches (7-0-0).
  •  Led by head coach Demir Muftari, who is assisted by Paul Thomas.
 
ABOUT THE CHILL
  • Finished 7-2-5 in second place of the Heartland Division.
  • Makes its ninth appearance in the PDL Playoffs.
  • Knocked the Bucks from the 2010, 2011 and 2013 postseasons; Michigan rallied to beat Thunder Bay last year – 3-2 in OT.
  • After dropping a July 10-11 home doubleheader to the Menace, finished the season on a 10-match unbeaten streak (5-0-5)
  • Sullivan Oliveira Silva leads the team with 11 goals with Anthony Putrus next with nine.
  • Directed by head coach Giovanni Petraglia, who is assisted by Stefano Cristali, Saverio Lento and Aarno Peura.
 
ALL-TIME SERIES: MENACE VS. K-W UNITED FC
  • Des Moines knocked out K-W with PK’s in its first playoff appearance in 2014 (1-0 in Des Moines). Goalkeeper Paul Blanchette made two crucial saves and captain Brandon Fricke sealed the Menace’s first playoff win since 2009.
  • Last season, K-W – the eventual PDL champion – defeated the Menace 3-2 in the semifinals. After Chris Hellmann put Des Moines up in the first half, Sergio Camargo struck in the 50th and 53rd minutes to give K-W the lead. Leigh Veidman tied the match in the 65th minute, but Ben Polk (chosen 20th by Portland in the 2016 Major League Soccer Super Draft) bagged the game-winner in the 87th.
 
ALL-TIME SERIES: MENACE VS. BUCKS
  • Michigan leads the postseason series 5-1; Des Moines has a 2-1 edge in regular-season matches (1996 and 1998).
  • Des Moines’ postseason win against Michigan came during the Menace’s 2005 PDL title run (4-1 on July 30 at Waukee Stadium).
  • In 2014, the Bucks shut out the Menace 2-0 on July 26 and went on to win the PDL championship.
  • The Bucks also knocked the Menace from the playoffs in 1997, 2002, 2003 and 2011.
 
ALL-TIME SERIES: MENACE VS. CHILL
  • Des Moines and Thunder Bay have never met in the postseason.
  •  In regular-season play, the Menace leads the PDL’s oldest series 28-24-5 after a sweep on Canadian soil (2-0 on June 10 and 2-1 on June 11) and a 1-1 home draw on July 9.
  • The Menace has won the arch-rivals’ season series for three straight years, after Thunder Bay claimed bragging rights in each of the five previous seasons (2009-13).
  • For 10 straight seasons, the Heartland Division champion has been Des Moines or Thunder Bay.
 
PDL PLAYOFFS
  • Conference championships are being hosted by the Michigan Bucks (Central), Reading United (Eastern), FC Tucson (Western) and OKC Energy U23 (Southern).
  • This weekend’s winners advance to the PDL semifinals – at two sites – on July 30.
  • The PDL Championship, presented by Nike, is set for Aug. 6.
 
MENACE IN THE PLAYOFFS
  • This is Des Moines 14th PDL playoff appearance (a total surpassed by only Michigan’s 19 postseason berths).
  • The Menace has yet to go more than two straight years without a postseason appearance.
  • In addition to the 2005 PDL championship, the franchise has three finishes in the PDL’s final four – a third-place finish in 1998, and fourth-place finishes in 1995 and 2001.
  • Des Moines is 14-14 in the postseason (6-3 neutral, 1-4 away and 7-7 home).
 
PDL HONOR ROLL
  • Goalkeeper Nico Campbell was named to the PDL Team of the Week on June 1.
  • Captain Leigh Veidman was named to the PDL Team of the Week on June 15 and June 29.
  • Veidman received honorable mention on June 22.
  • Forward Tommy Barlow received honorable mention on June 29 and July 13.
 
 
ABOUT THE MENACE: The Des Moines Menace provides the highest level of soccer in Iowa. The Menace men’s team competes in the Premier Development League (PDL) and is in its 23rd season. In their fifth season this year, the Menace women’s team is part of the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL). With loyal support, the Menace men’s and women’s teams play their home games at the Valley Stadium in West Des Moines to provide family-fun entertainment. The Menace organization provides the growth of the game of soccer in Iowa with their youth soccer programs, including Junior Menace (ages 3-9), Menace Youth Academy (ages seven and older), tournaments, camps and clinics.
 
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