WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013 – The mission for the Des Moines Menace’s entry in this fall’s regional tournament was clear: Clinch a berth in the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Mission: Accomplished. On a snowy and icy Valley Stadium field, the Menace got the job done by defeating RWB Adria (Ill.) on this frigid night, 3-0, in the semifinals of the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) National Cups, Region II Tournament. The Menace will appear in the much-celebrated U.S. Open Cup for the fifth-straight year and the ninth overall.
“It’s something for the organization to be proud of. It’s quite an accomplishment,” Menace head coach Mike Jeffries said of the Open Cup streak.
It continues, thanks to second-half goals by Michael Thaden, Sean Hoek and Michael Noonan. The Menace defense did its part, too, with a staunch backline anchored by Ben Taylor and Jack Pearson – reunited teammates from the franchise’s 2009 Premier Development League Heartland Division championship season.
This was a night to remember, due in part to uncomfortable playing conditions. The game-time temp was 12 degrees; the wind-chill was only four degrees. And the terrain was a slick expanse of white, covered by an inch of snow and ice, with the field lines unveiled by repeated shoveling efforts.
“I thought the beginning of the game was a feeling-out-process,” Jeffries said. The players were adapting to the playing surface, he explained, and the Menace players were getting used to each other, after only a handful of practices and a few roster changes, with some new faces joining the team.
The newest addition was Thomas Ostrander. A day after taking the C.P.A. exam in Chicago, he cracked the starting lineup. He made his mark in the 49th minute, when his cross pass found former Drake teammate Michael Thaden, who buried the ball into the far-post corner to put the Menace up 1-0.
“Once we got the first goal, the game opened up a little,” Jeffries said. “I thought we were able to play a little bit quicker. We were a little more aggressive.”
The second and third goals came from a trio who provided the scoring in the Menace’s tournament-opening, 4-2 win over Kansas City a week earlier.
In the 54th minute, Sean Hoek dribbled to the top of the 18-yard box, found himself momentarily free, and slipped the ball past RWB Adria goalkeeper Igor Dimov.
The final score came 10 minutes later, when AIB’s Rodrigo Espriu, who had scored the final two goals of the first-round win, assisted Drake alum Michael Noonan.
The Menace put the defensive clamps on the visitors from Chicago, often shutting them down early in the attack. AIB goalkeeper Darren Marcello got the shutout – his second-straight win for the Menace.
RWB Adria is denied its seventh appearance in the U.S. Open Cup. The team appeared in the 2013 Cup, by virtue of winning this spring’s USASA Region II tournament.
Des Moines advances to the fall tournament’s final, to be played Dec. 7 or 8 against the winner of tomorrow’s Chicago showdown between Schwaben AC and the AAC Eagles.
For Jeffries and the Menace, the berth in next year’s Open Cup is a great boost for the Premier Development League season, and the recruiting leading up to it.
“It's something for the guys coming onto the team, to get the opportunity to play teams like Sporting KC,” Jeffries said.
In the 2013 U.S. Open Cup, the Menace advanced to a third-round matchup with Kansas City’s Major League Soccer team – the national tournament’s defending champion. On May 28, the Menace battled in a 2-0 loss played in front of more than 15,000 fans at Sporting Park.
And, on this night, in that same stadium, Sporting Kansas City defeated the Houston Dynamo, 2-1, to punch its ticket to the 2013 MLS Cup, to be played at Sporting Park on Dec. 7.
MAN of the MATCH, presented by Seneca Companies, goes to: Sean Hoek, who scored his second goal of the tournament, one week after opening the scoring for the Menace. Hoek is a UNC-Pembroke grad who played for the Menace PDL team in 2013 and currently is a coach for the Menace Youth Academy.
“I thought Sean was great,” Jeffries said. “He chased tirelessly and won a lot of balls. He made a big difference.”
Match: RWB Adria at Des Moines Menace
Date: Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013
Competition: United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) National Cups, Region II Tournament, semifinals
Venue: Valley Stadium (turf field) in West Des Moines, Iowa
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CST
Weather: 12 degrees (wind chill: four degrees)
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
MENACE 0 3 3
RWBA 0 0 0
MENACE – Michael Thaden (Thomas Ostrander) 49:00; Sean Hoek 54:00; Michael Noonan (Rodrigo Espriu) 64:00
Misconduct Summary: RWBA Yellow Card: Martin Khoshaba 44:00; RWBA Red Card: Adnan Ejupovic 90:00+
ABOUT THE MENACE: The Des Moines Menace provides the highest level of soccer in Iowa. Entering its 21st season, the Menace men’s side competes in the 65-team United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League (PDL). The Menace’s women’s team played in the 2013 Women’s Premier Soccer League playoffs, after debuting as the Women’s League Soccer 2012 champions. 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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