WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Wednesday, July 18, 2018 – In 2015, 2016 and 2017, the Central Conference’s championship weekend was stuck on replay: the same four teams and the same venue.
There’s plenty of change this time around, as three teams descend upon Des Moines for their first action in the Premier Development League Playoffs. On Friday at Valley Stadium, two spots in Saturday’s conference final will be on the line when the Dayton Dutch Lions face Chicago FC United (4:30 p.m.) and the Des Moines Menace hosts Lansing United (7:30).
Claiming the 2018 PDL regular-season championship, the unbeaten Menace (13-0-1) continues the franchise’s streak of five straight postseason berths. This is Des Moines’ 16th playoff appearance in 25 seasons.
Playoff soccer returns to Valley Stadium for the first time since 2014. Each of the last three years, the Michigan Bucks hosted the Menace, the Thunder Bay Chill and K-W United for the Central Conference’s crowning weekend.
For five years running, the Central Conference champs have eventually advanced to the PDL final. Michigan (2014 and 2016) and K-W (2015) won league titles after knocking out the Menace; Thunder Bay was a finalist in 2013 and 2017.
2018 PREMIER DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE PLAYOFFS:
Central Conference Championship
VENUE: Valley Stadium (artificial-turf field) in West Des Moines, Iowa
SEMIFINAL 1: Dayton Dutch Lions vs, Chicago FC United
DATE and TIME: Friday, July 20 at 4:30 p.m. CDT
SEMIFINAL 2: Des Moines Menace vs, Lansing United
DATE and TIME: Friday, July 20 at 7:30 p.m. CDT
FINAL: Winner of Semifinal 1 vs. Winner of Semifinal 2
DATE and TIME: Saturday, July 21 at 7:30 p.m. CDT
ABOUT THE MENACE
- 13-0-1 – PDL regular-season and Heartland Division champs
- Has outscored foes 37-6 – 14-1 before halftime and 23-5 after halftime.
- Leads the league in goal-differential (+32)
- Has not trailed a PDL opponent this season; not counting scoreless beginnings, has been tied for 18 total minutes in league play.
- Kino Ryosuke’s 17 goals are second in the PDL.
- First-year head coach Alen Marcina is assisted by Dario Pot and goalkeeping coach Devala Gorrick.
- In 25 seasons, have accumulated an all-time record of 280-154-38 (250-126-38 regular season; 16-16 PDL playoffs; 14-12 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup).
- Six-time PDL Heartland Division champion (2002, 2009, 2014-16, 2018).
- Has three PDL regular-season titles – all coming in World Cup summers (also 2002 and 2014).
ABOUT LANSING UNITED
- 7-2-5 – Great Lakes Division runner-up
- Has outscored foes 27-12.
- DeJuan Jones (five goals, one assist) and (Cedar Rapids native and current Drake Bulldog) Leroy Enzugusi (four goals, two assists) lead a balanced offense.
- Head coach Nate Miller is assisted by Paul Gilbert, Darus Ward, Tim Daniels and Daniel Price.
- Following four successful years in the National Premier Soccer League, Lansing caps its first PDL season with a playoff berth.
ABOUT THE DAYTON DUTCH LIONS
- 8-3-3 (6-0-1 away) – Great Lakes Division champion.
- Has outscored opponents 29-15.
- Tate Robertson (six goals, seven assists), Jackson Dietrich (six goals, six assists) and Jerome Williams (seven goals, two assists) have contributed to most of the Lions’ scoring.
- First-year head coach is assisted by Kevin Terrell and Catherine Gordon.
- This is Dayton’s fifth PDL season (2010; 2015-18); the team competed in USL Pro in the 2011-14 seasons.
ABOUT CHICAGO FC UNITED
- 7-5-2 – Heartland Division runner-up.
- Has outscored opponents 23-20 (21-6 against non-Menace competition).
- Has gone 2-5-2 since winning the season’s first five matches.
- Luke Haakenson, who played for the 2017 Menace, leads the team with nine points (three goals, three assists); Jesus Perez has three goals and an assist.
- Head coach Steve Bode leads this second-year PDL club.
ABOUT THE 2018 PDL PLAYOFFS
- The brackets for the 16-team PDL Playoffs: https://www.uslpdl.com/playoffs
- Also hosting conference championship weekends: Reading United AC (Eastern Conference; Reading, Penn.), South Georgia Tormenta FC (Southern; Statesboro, Ga.) and FC Golden State Force (Western; Whittier, Calif.).
- Two teams will host PDL semifinals on July 28; the PDL Championship is August 4 at a site to be determined.
MENACE’S PLAYOFF HISTORY
- Des Moines makes its 16th postseason appearance.
- The franchise is 16-16 all-time in the PDL Playoffs (7-7 home; 2-5 away; 7-4 neutral).
- In 25 years of PDL soccer, the team has never gone more than two straight years without playoff berths.
- The team’s 3-4 in playoff action the past four years.
- This is the Menace’s sixth year hosting the playoffs.
- In the team’s previous playoff action at Valley Stadium, the Menace is 2-2 (1-1 in 2009 and 1-1 in 2014).
- The Menace has made four appearances in the Final Four (1995, 1998, 2001 and 2005).
- Des Moines won the postseason championship in 2005, winning three home matches before earning the title in shootout fashion at El Paso.
DES MOINES MENACE 2018 SCHEDULE (13-0-1 PDL; 6-0-1 home and 7-0-0 away)
Thursday, May 24 WSA Winnipeg W, 3-0
Saturday, May 26 at St. Louis Lions W, 4-1
Friday, June 1 at Kaw Valley FC W, 2-1
Saturday, June 2 at St. Louis Lions W, 2-0
Friday, June 8 at Thunder Bay Chill W, 3-0
Sunday, June 10 at WSA Winnipeg W, 3-0
Friday, June 15 ^Nebraska Bugeaters FC L, 0-2
Saturday, June 16 Thunder Bay Chill W, 1-0
Tuesday, June 19 at Chicago FC United W, 2-1
Wednesday, June 20 at Chicago FC United W, 5-0
Saturday, June 23 Kaw Valley FC T, 1-1
Friday, June 29 Kaw Valley FC W, 1-0
Saturday, June 30 ^Union Dubuque FC Cancelled due to weather
Friday, July 6 Chicago FC United W, 5-1
Saturday, July 7 Chicago FC United W, 2-0
Friday, July 13 St. Louis Lions W, 3-1
Saturday, July 14 ^Aurora Borealis T, 1-1
Friday, July 20 # Lansing United 7:30 p.m. at Valley Stadium
Saturday, July 21 # Central Conference Final 7:30 p.m. at Valley Stadium
Saturday, July 28 # Semifinals, Premier Development League Playoffs
Saturday, Aug. 4 # Premier Development League Championship
# = PDL Playoffs ^ = Exhibition