WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Saturday, July 21, 2018 – They gave it everything they had.
The players and coaches of the 2018 Des Moines Menace accomplished so much in this memorable 25th year for the franchise.
Unfortunately, the magic ran out tonight for the Premier Development League’s regular-season champs. A 1-0 Central Conference Championship loss to Chicago FC United brings a screeching halt to the Menace’s season-long unbeaten streak.
Giann Magno scored in the 76th minute, and for the first time this year, the Menace (13-0-1 PDL) trailed against a PDL foe.
In the precious closing moments tonight at Valley Stadium, the Menace kept at it but could not replicate its regular-season success against Chicago (7-5-2). The visitors escape with a Final Four spot and plenty of payback after Des Moines swept the teams’ four-game season series by a 14-2 goal margin.
“We kept fighting and fighting. We had a lot opportunities, and we pushed hard to equalize,” said striker Emmanuel Paga, whose screaming shots barely missed the frame in the 82nd and 88th minutes. “I wish we could score and keep playing. Everybody was united on this team. A lot of love, and I loved playing with these guys.”
Less than 24 hours earlier, the Menace was celebrating with a swarm of fans on this same field. After 120 scoreless minutes against Lansing United, the playoff hosts pulled out a suspenseful shootout victory that will endure as part of Menace lore.
Tonight, though, head coach Alen Marcina’s club appeared understandably tired. The team that outscored regular-season foes 37-6 did not show the same mojo against a crew of scrappy underdogs who yesterday afternoon shocked Great Lakes Division champion Dayton, 5-3.
“Credit to Chicago. That’s the way soccer goes sometimes,” said captain Brandon Fricke, a defensive staple in seven seasons for his hometown club. “We’ll look back on a great regular season. The guys should hold their heads high and take a lot of pride…
“Other than tonight, we always found a way to win.”
MAN of the MATCH: All the players who contributed to the Menace’s third regular-season title (2002, 2014). It was a remarkable run during an anniversary season full of highlights and memorable moments.
Match: Chicago FC United at Des Moines Menace
Date: Saturday, July 21, 2018
Competition: Premier Development League Playoffs, Central Conference Championship
Venue: Valley Stadium (artificial turf) in West Des Moines, Iowa
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CDT
Weather: 70s, breezy
Scoreline 1 2 F
MENACE 0 0 0
CHICAGO 0 1 1