Lucas Stauffer (left) and the Menace head into the league schedule, looking to shake off this Open Cup loss to AFC Cleveland. Photo credit: Joe Sprunger
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Friday, May 19, 2017 – In pursuit of a fourth straight Heartland Division championship, the Des Moines Menace opens its 2017 Premier Development League season tomorrow night at Valley Stadium.
Heading into a 7:30 p.m. kickoff against WSA Winnipeg, Des Moines carries a 22-match undefeated streak in PDL home matches, and the Menace’s next win will be the 250th in franchise history.
Tomorrow’s match comes 10 days after the Menace’s first action of 2017 – a 3-1 home loss to AFC Cleveland in the first round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. This was the first time in six years that the Menace did not win at least one match in the national tournament.
Des Moines turns its focus on a WSA Winnipeg team looking to improve on its last-place, 1-11-2 finish from a year ago. In three lopsided meetings last season, Des Moines (10-2-2) outscored the Canadian club 22-0, stretching its all-time series lead to 16-0-1.
The Menace opens the season ranked second in the Central Conference’s power rankings, right behind the defending PDL champion Michigan Bucks, who knocked the Menace out of the 2016 postseason.
First-year Menace head coach John Pascarella takes the field in his first PDL game since 2007 and 2008, when he led the Northern Virginia Royals. For the past eight years, Pascarella was an assistant coach at Sporting Kansas City.
WSA Winnipeg at Des Moines Menace
Date and Time: Saturday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m. CDT
Venue: Valley Stadium (artificial turf) in West Des Moines, Iowa
Competition: Premier Development League season opener
Promotions: Pick up a Menace magnet schedule, while supplies last.
Preceded by: Intrasquad exhibition for Des Moines Menace women at 4:30 p.m.
ABOUT THE MENACE
- Three-time defending Premier Development League Heartland Division champion (10-2-2 in 2016).
- Lost 3-1 to AFC Cleveland in the first round of the Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup on May 10 at Valley Stadium. Hayden Partain scored the only goal for the Menace in the 82nd minute.
- On the cusp of the franchise’s 250th win (220-117-35 PDL, 14-12 Open Cup and 15-15 PDL Playoffs).
- Familiar faces on this year’s roster include Brandon Fricke (2010-14 Menace), Mueng Sunday (2014-16 Menace) and Elvir Ibisevic (2016 Menace).
- Has not lost a PDL regular-season home game in three years – a 22-match home streak that started with a 3-3 tie on July 20, 2013 against the St. Louis Lions. The last regular-season home loss was a 2-1 setback against the Real Colorado Foxes one week earlier.
- First-year head coach John Pascarella is assisted by Greg Hennelly, Matt Kennedy and Tiley Nunnink.
ABOUT WSA WINNIPEG
- Finished on the bottom of the PDL Heartland Division standings in 2016 with a 1-11-2 record.
- Coached by Eduardo Badescu (2011-present), who is assisted by William Rosales.
- Its lone win in 2016 came in a 1-0 upset against Chicago Fire U23 on June 12, 2016 at home – its first victory since the 2014 season. The Wolf Pack’s two tie matches came at the end of the season against St. Louis and Kokomo Mantis FC.
- Opens the season with five road matches in one week, with games against the St. Louis Lions on May 21, St. Louis FC U23 on May 23 and May 24 and Chicago FC United on May 26.
ALL-TIME SERIES: MENACE VS. WSA WINNIPEG
- The Menace is undefeated against the Wolf Pack 16-0-1 in a series that began in 2011.
- In the 2016 season, the two teams met three times, with Des Moines outscoring Winnipeg 22-0 on June 14 in Manitoba (6-0) and at home on June 24 (7-0) and June 25 (9-0).
- Des Moines has outscored Winnipeg 63-8 (32-1 in eight home matches, all wins).
- Since a 4-1 victory at Winnipeg on May 30, 2013, the Menace has nine straight shutouts in the series.
- The teams’ lone tie came on June 2, 2012 in Winnipeg; two late goals from the Menace salvaged a 2-2 draw.
- The Menace visits Manitoba for a June 13-14 doubleheader.
ABOUT THE PDL HEARTLAND DIVISION
- This match is the first 2017 action for the six-team Heartland Division.
- The Menace (24th season), WSA Winnipeg (seventh season), the St. Louis Lions (12th season) and the Thunder Bay Chill (18th season) are back in the division, joined by newcomers FC United Chicago and Saint Louis FC U23.
- FC United Chicago is one win from a fourth-round matchup with D.C. United in the U.S. Open Cup. After a 3-1 home upset of Pittsburgh (United Sccer League) on Wednesday, F.C. United moves on to a May 31 match at fellow amateur team Christos FC (Md.).
- Des Moines or Thunder Bay has been the Heartland Divison champ the last 10 seasons.
- The 72-team PDL comprises 10 divisions and four conferences; the Heartland Division and the Great Lakes Division are in the Central Conference.
RECAPPING MAY 10
- With a pair of late goals, visiting AFC Cleveland knocked the Menace from the first round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, May 10.
- Des Moines’ Hayden Partain evened the match in the 82nd minute, six minutes after Ben Truax’s penalty kick spotted the defending National Premier Soccer League champs the lead.
- The game-winner came from Chris Cvecko in the 90th minute, and Reymar Klochko-Khoo sealed it in stoppage time.
- One week later, playing in front of more than 12,000 fans, AFC Cleveland forced host FC Cincinnati to overtime. The pros eventually prevailed, 1-0, setting up a May 31 home bout with United Soccer League rival Louisville City.
UP NEXT FOR THE MENACE
- The Menace travels to St. Louis for a Memorial Day weekend doubleheader.
- On Saturday, May 27 at 5 p.m., the Menace plays the St. Louis Lions.
- St. Louis FC U23 will host Des Moines on Sunday, May 28 at 3:30 p.m.
- Saturday, June 3 is Youth Soccer Night, when the Menace hosts Minneapolis City SC.
- On June 3, youth-soccer players wearing their team jerseys get in free, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will make an appearance.
ABOUT THE MENACE: The Des Moines Menace provides the highest level of soccer in Iowa. In its 24th season, the Menace men’s team competes in the Premier Development League (PDL). Entering its sixth season, 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 six and older), and tournaments, camps and clinics.