WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Tuesday, July 31, 2018 – While Kino Ryosuke was skillfully scoring goals, Carlos Mercado was proficiently preventing them.
They led the Menace to the Premier Development League’s 2018 regular-season title, and they are part of the All-Central Conference team, announced today by league officials.
Ryosuke led the 74-team PDL with 37 points, the output of 17 goals and three assists. He logged a team-leading 1,211 minutes in the nearly perfect 13-0-1 season.
Mercado secured five shutouts and 21 saves in eight appearances during the season. He shined in a suspenseful shootout win on July 20, lunging to his left to bat away back-to-back kicks from the mark; the Menace got by visiting Lansing to advance to the Central Conference Championship.
Ryosuke, a native of Hyogo, Japan, joins Louisville after two stellar years at Marshalltown Community College. Mercado, from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, enters his freshman season at Incarnate Word in San Antonio.
A couple Menace mainstays – midfielder Audi Jepson (six goals, six assists) and seventh-year Des Moines defender Brandon Fricke (an all-conference selection in 2013 and 2017) – received all-conference honorable mention.
Tucker Stephenson, a member of the 2017 Menace who scored nine goals this season for Kaw Valley FC, is on the 2018 all-conference team. Luke Haakenson, also from the 2017 Menace, earned honorable mention after collecting a team-best nine points (three goals, three assists) for Chicago FC United – the team that eliminated the Menace from the postseason on July 21.
A representative from each team voted on the postseason honors, which are based on regular-season performance. Teams are allowed to vote only on players within their respective divisions.
The Central Conference comprises the Heartland Division (including the Menace) and the Great Lakes Division.