This header goal by Bryce Gibson was the final score in the Menace's 2-1 loss to Saint Louis FC U23. Photo credit: Joe Sprunger
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Friday, July 14, 2017 – With time ticking away, a return to the Premier Development League playoffs is still within the Des Moines Menace’s reach.
After tonight’s 2-1 loss to Saint Louis FC U23 at Valley Stadium, the Menace is down to its last chance – a season-closing home match tomorrow night against Chicago FC United.
Saint Louis FC U23 (6-4-4, 22 points) boosted its postseason prospects and put the Menace in a tough spot. In their final game of the regular season, the visitors raced to a two-goal halftime lead and leapfrogged the Menace for second place in the Heartland Division.
Des Moines (6-5-2, 20 points) must win tomorrow to seal the division’s second and final playoff berth.
Bryce Gibson headed home Tucker Stephenson’s corner kick in the 50th minute, pulling one back for the Menace. And the home side pushed and pushed for an equalizer that never came.
In the 87th minute, Gibson rose above the crowd to get his head on another Stephenson corner, but the shot sailed right into the arms of goalkeeper Seth Strebel.
Two minutes later, Stephenson’s cross-pass to an on-rushing Ramone Howell provided another close call. Unfortunately, Howell – who was clutch with two goals in a 3-1 win last Saturday – couldn’t find the finishing touch.
Fortunately, the Menace gets one last Saturday at Valley Stadium, with a lot on the line.
“We know what we need to do, and I think we can accomplish it,” Gibson said. “We have a great team – all the heart in the world. We really wanted it tonight. Hopefully we can get the job done tomorrow.”
PDL Heartland Division standings
- Thunder Bay Chill 9-3-2, 29 points
- Saint Louis FC 6-4-4, 22 points
- MENACE 6-5-2, 20 points
- St. Louis Lions 6-7-1, 19 points
- Chicago FC United 4-4-5, 17 points
- WSA Winnipeg 2-11-1, 7 points
- Thunder Bay snapped the Menace’s three-year run as Heartland Division champions.
- A tie tonight would have clinched a playoff spot for the Menace, after the St. Louis Lions lost 5-2 in Winnipeg tonight.
- Saint Louis FC replicated its previous trip to Valley Stadium – like tonight, a game followed by fireworks – a 2-1 win on July 1.
- Mohamed Awad, who opened the scoring in the July 1 match, struck again in the 32nd minute.
- Elliot Goodwin, who assisted Awad tonight, scored in first-half stoppage time.
- In its first year in the Heartland Division, SLFC takes the season series, 2-0-1, against the Menace.
MAN of the MATCH: Bryce Gibson, for his goal and his steady defense. Gibson is a Creighton Bluejay from Lee’s Summit, Mo.
UP NEXT: The Menace ends the regular season tomorrow against Chicago FC United. The 7:30 p.m. match follows a 4:30 Women’s Premier Soccer League matchup between the Menace and the Chicago Red Stars Reserves.
Match: Saint Louis FC U23 at Des Moines Menace
Date: Friday, July 14, 2017
Competition: Premier Development League regular season
Venue: Valley Stadium (artificial turf) in West Des Moines, Iowa
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CDT
Weather: 80s, sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
MENACE 0 1 1
SLFCU23 2 0 2
MENACE – Bryce Gibson (Tucker Stephenson) 50:00
SLFCU23 – Mohamed Awad (Elliot Goodwin) 32:00; Goodwin (Zach Hall) 45:00+
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.