WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Friday, July 20, 2018 – Menace Magic continues for at least one more day.
Tonight’s dramatic shootout triumph over Lansing United sends the Des Moines Menace to tomorrow’s Premier Development League Central Conference Championship.
The Menace’s unbeaten season lives on, thanks largely to goalkeeper Carlos Mercado’s catlike reflexes and defender Anthony Manning’s clinching kick. Next up for the PDL’s regular-season champs: a matchup with a familiar foe – Chicago FC United – back here at Valley Stadium.
“Feels great, but it’s not over yet. We get to keep playing,” said Manning, all smiles after sealing a 4-3 shootout win after 120 scoreless minutes. “It was a grind, but we got the result.”
Lansing went up 3-1 in the late theatrics, with Danny Wright, Kyle Carr and Lewis Jones converting their kicks from the mark.
But Mercado stopped the attempts of DeJuan Jones and Joe White, setting up Manning’s decisive, round-five shot after Kino Ryosuke, Johnny Fenwick and Audi Jepson delivered for the Menace.
“I wasn’t really nervous,” Mercado said. “Just glad I was able to make a couple saves and help the team.
“The mindset for us is to be champions. I think everyone came out together tonight and we have the confidence to win.”
A raucous crowd stormed the field after the game, celebrating the Menace’s first home playoff win since another PDL regular-season champion Des Moines side got by K-W United here in 2014 with identical scorelines.
“When I saw the ‘keeper (Anthony Mwembia) go to the opposite side, I just placed it the other way,” Manning said. “And then everyone went crazy. All the guys started running after me. It was nuts.”
UP NEXT: The Menace moves on to face Chicago, which rallied from two goals down to dispatch Dayton, 5-3, this afternoon. Gametime for the PDL Central Conference Championship is 7:30 on Saturday (July 21).
Des Moines swept the season series with Chicago, outscoring the Heartland Division runner-up, 14-2, in four matchups.
MAN of the MATCH: Carlos Mercado, for his seven saves through overtime and his shootout heroics. Mercado is a native of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and a freshman-to-be at Incarnate Word (Texas). He helped the Menace lead the 74-team PDL with just six goals allowed this season.
Match: Lansing United at Des Moines Menace
Date: Friday, July 20, 2018
Competition: Premier Development League Playoffs, Central Conference semifinal
Venue: Valley Stadium (artificial turf) in West Des Moines, Iowa
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CDT
Weather: 70s, breezy
Scoreline 1 2 OT1 OT2 F
MENACE 0 0 0 0 0(4)
LANSING 0 0 0 0 0(3)