Devyn Jambga (with ball), Ramone Howell (left) and the Menace earned a postseason spot with this season-closing 2-0 home win over Chicago on July 15. Photo credit: Joe Sprunger
PONTIAC, Mich. – Thursday, July 20, 2017 – Could this be the year the Des Moines Menace knocks the Michigan Bucks out of the playoffs?
The Michigan-bound Menace looks for payback when the Premier Development League’s most storied franchises lock horns for the third time in the last four postseasons.
Heading into tomorrow night’s Central Conference semifinal, the Bucks have a 6-1 advantage in playoff matches against the Menace. The outlier came in Des Moines’ run to the 2005 league title.
For the third straight year, the Bucks host the conference’s championship weekend inside Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac.
Tomorrow’s action starts with an all-Canadian semifinal between K-W United FC – the 2015 PDL champion and the Menace’s first-round foe from each of the last three seasons – and the Thunder Bay Chill, the Menace’s Heartland Division rival.
The semifinal winners will meet on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with a chance to advance to the PDL final four, held at two sites, next weekend. The PDL championship is set for Saturday, Aug. 5.
The Bucks aim for their third title in the last four tournaments. Michigan – the league’s only franchise with more than Des Moines’ 15 playoff berths – has made 20 playoff appearances and finished on top three times.
In last year’s conference final, the eventual PDL champions bucked the Menace from the playoffs, 2-0, one night after Des Moines dispatched defending champ K-W, 5-1.
Premier Development League Playoffs: Central Conference Championship
Venue: Ultimate Soccer Arenas (indoor, turf) in Pontiac, Mich.
Live stream for the Menace’s matches: www.CISN.tv/MenaceSoccer
Live updates for the Menace’s matches: www.Twitter.com/MenaceSoccer
Semifinal 1: Thunder Bay Chill vs. K-W United
Date and time: Friday, July 21 at 5 p.m. EDT
Semifinal 2: Des Moines Menace at Michigan Bucks
Date and time: Friday, July 21 at 7:30 p.m. EDT
Final: Winner of Semifinal 1 vs. Winner of Semifinal 2
Date and time: Saturday, July 22 at 7:30 p.m. EDT
ABOUT THE MENACE
- 7-5-2, seeded fourth in the Central Conference playoffs.
- Slid into the postseason by topping Chicago FC United 2-0 last Saturday.
- Making its 15th appearance in the PDL playoffs.
- Knocked out of the 2016 playoffs in the Central Conference final, losing to the Bucks 2-0 in Michigan.
- Finished second in the Heartland Division behind Thunder Bay – snapping the Menace’s three-year division title streak.
- 19 PDL goals match the franchise’s lowest season scoring total (2013).
- Outscored opponents 19-12 in the regular season, with Menace goalkeepers Kyle Ihn and Jake Leeker making 37 total saves compared to opponent’s 76 total saves.
- Devyn Jambga leads the team with 11 points (five goals and one assist).
- Led by first-year head coach John Pascarella, who is assisted by Tiley Nunnink and Greg Hennelly.
ABOUT THE BUCKS
- Reigning PDL champion – won 3-2 over Calgary Foothills FC at Ultimate Soccer Arenas last August.
- 10-1-3, finishing on top of the Great Lakes Division for the fourth straight year and seeded first in the Central Conference.
- Have made the PDL playoffs 20 of their 22 seasons, with postseason titles in 2006, 2014 and 2016.
- Jacob Bevan leads the team in goal scoring with seven; Austin Ricci and Andre Landell are tied for second with five.
- Have two midfielders in the PDL Top Prospect list – No. 1 Francis Atuahene and No. 4 Brandley Dunwell.
- Tied Chicago FC United (from the Menace’s division) 2-2 on June 18 in an interdivision match inside Ultimate Soccer Arenas.
- Have not lost a regular-season home game since July 10, 2013.
- Outscored opponents 31-9 in the regular season.
- Led by Demir Muftari, who is assisted by Paul Thomas and Rajko Jovanovic.
ABOUT K-W UNITED
- 9-4-1 and seeded third in the Central Conference.
- Finished second in the Great Lakes Division behind Michigan, which swept this year’s series with K-W, 3-0.
- Won the 2015 PDL championship – a 4-3 win over the New York Red Bulls U23.
- In the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
- Knocked out of the 2016 playoffs by the Menace (5-1) in the first round.
- Sameer Fathazada leads the team in goal scoring with six, but the forward is restricted from playing right now due to NCAA violations.
- Outscored opponents 31-13 in the regular season.
- Ken Krolicki is No. 14 on the PDL’s Top Prospect list.
- Represents the Kitchener-Waterloo region in Ontario Canada – became K-W United in 2013 after three years as the Hamilton Rage.
- Coached by Martin Painter.
ABOUT THE CHILL
- Heartland Division champion with a regular season mark of 9-3-2.
- Makes its 10th postseason appearance (all in the last 11 years, with the exception coming in 2014).
- Won the PDL championship in 2008 and finished second in 2010 and 2013.
- Knocked out of the 2016 playoffs in the first round by the Bucks (3-0).
- Clinched the division title with a 4-0 home win over the St. Louis Lions on July 12.
- Team goal leader Adam Abdellaoui has five; Brandon Swartzendruber and Abraham Villon follow with four.
- Outscored opponents 26-8 in the regular season.
- Two of the three losses came against the Menace (1-0 on June 9 and June 17); the other loss came against Saint Louis FC U23 – 3-1 at home on July 7.
- Head coach Giovanni Petraglia leads the team.
ALL-TIME SERIES: MENACE VS. BUCKS
- Michigan has a 6-1 postseason edge over the Menace – with the one Menace win in 2005, the year Des Moines brought home a championship.
- Des Moines leads 2-1 in regular season matches (in 1996 and 1998).
- In 2016, the Bucks won 2-0 over the Menace and went on to win the PDL championship.
- Michigan also ended the Menace’s season in 1997, 2002, 2003, 2011 and 2014.
ALL-TIME SERIES: MENACE VS. K-W UNITED FC
- Des Moines won 5-1 last year again K-W United in the first round of the Central Conference championships. Mark Heath-Preston (2), James Wypych and Ramone Howell (2) were the goal scorers in that dominating win.
- The Menace also won in 2014 at home (1-0 in PK’s), but K-W edged the Menace 3-2 in 2015 before going on to win the PDL championship.
ALL-TIME SERIES: MENACE VS. CHILL
- Despite meeting at least two times in the regular season each year, Des Moines and Thunder Bay have yet to battle in the postseason.
- The Menace leads the PDL’s oldest series 30-25-5.
- Des Moines won the series this year 2-1, with a doubleheader split in Canada (1-0 on June 9 and 0-2 on June 10) and a 1-0 home win on June 17.
- The Menace has won the season series for four straight years.
- For 11 straight seasons, Des Moines or Thunder Bay has been the Heartland Division champion.
- Conference championships are being hosted by the Michigan Bucks (Central), South Georgia Tormenta FC (Eastern), Mississippi Brilla FC (Southern) and FC Tucson (Western).
- This weekend’s winners advance to the PDL semifinals on July 30. The two games will be played at separate sites.
- The PDL championship game will be held on Aug. 5.
MENACE IN THE PLAYOFFS
- This is Des Moines 15th playoff appearance – the second-highest total in the PDL, behind the Michigan Bucks’ 20 appearances.
- Des Moines is in the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
- The Menace won the PDL championship in 2005 and has three finishes in the final four: third place in 1998 and fourth place in 1995 and 2001.
- Des Moines is 15-15 in the postseason (6-3 neutral, 2-5 away and 7-7 at home).
- Each of the Menace’s last three seasons has ended with a playoff loss to the eventual champions.
- The franchise’s two most recent playoff wins came against K-W, in 2014 and 2016.
RECAPPING LAST WEEKEND
- The Menace had to win one of its final two games to clinch a PDL playoff spot.
- It didn’t come on Friday, when the Menace lost 2-1 to Saint Louis FC U23. Bryce Gibson’s header goal in the 87th minute wasn’t enough to pull past the visiting team.
- A 2-0 win over Chicago FC United on Saturday, though, sent the Menace into the playoffs – Hayden Partain’s goal in the 65th minute opened the scoring, and Elvir Ibisevic closed it off in the 87th.
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). In 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.