WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Friday, July 13, 2018 – There are 74 teams in the Premier Development League, but just one regular-season champion: the Des Moines Menace.
A 3-1 victory tonight over the St. Louis Lions sealed this title for the 13-0-1 Menace. Kino Ryosuke struck early with his 16th and 17th goals of this storybook season, and he assisted Audi Jepson’s insurance score in the second half.
“This is great,” Jepson said. “That was our first goal, to win the PDL regular season. Hopefully, we can accomplish our next goal – to win the playoffs.”
With their unbeaten regular season complete, the team still has plenty of home action here at Valley Stadium. The Menace hosts an exhibition tomorrow night against Aurora Borealis SC, and then the first round of the league playoffs, next weekend.
Ryosuke’s goals came in tonight’s 14th and 25th minutes – first assisted by Marcel Berry following a beautiful build-up of tiki-taka, then set up selflessly by Omar Mohamed – and it looked like the Menace might be able to coast.
But St. Louis was not about to take this one “Lion” down. Needing a win tonight to clinch the Heartland Division’s second and final playoff spot, they seemed to spring to life when Justin Stinson scored on a free kick in the 29th minute.
However, the Lions went down a man just a minute later, when Marcos Soma received a red card. The Menace attacked and attacked, and Jepson’s goal in the 56th minute punctured the Lions’ playoff hopes.
“It iced it a little bit,” Jepson said of his sixth goal this season. “But we knew we had to defend. They (the Lions) still brought it with 10 men, so we had to step it up. They had something to play for, so we knew they were going to bring their best.”
Ryosuke, Jepson and company join the 2002 and 2014 Menace as regular-season league champs. Before tonight, the ’02 team claimed the only undefeated season in the franchise’s 25-year history.
FINAL PDL HEARTLAND DIVISION STANDINGS
MENACE – 13-0-1, 40 points
Chicago FC United – 7-5-2, 23 points
St. Louis Lions – 6-6-2, 20 points
Kaw Valley FC – 6-6-2, 20 points
Thunder Bay Chill – 6-7-1, 19 points
WSA Winnipeg – 0-14-0, 0 points
UP NEXT: The Menace hosts Aurora Borealis SC tomorrow night, then it’s on to home action in the PDL Playoffs. Valley Stadium is the site of the Central Conference’s championship weekend – Friday semifinals at 4:30 and 7:30 (Menace) and a Saturday final (7:30).
MAN of the MATCH: Kino Ryosuke, who is tied for the PDL Golden Boot with Marek Weber of the South Carolina United Bantams, who close their season tomorrow.
Ryosuke’s 17 goals are the most for a Menace player since Tomas Boltnar scored 24 times as a rookie for the 2002 team that finished 15-0-3.
- For the league’s regular-season crown, the Menace edges Reading United AC (11-0-2), South Georgia Tormenta FC (10-0-2) and FC Golden State Force (11-1-1).
- The Lions became the first team to score before halftime against the Menace. Before this, the Menace had outscored opponents 14-0 in the first half.
- The Menace has outscored foes 37-6, setting a franchise mark for fewest goals allowed.
- The only blemish on the Menace’s PDL record is a 1-1 tie with visiting Kaw Valley FC on June 23.
- Des Moines did not trail once in the regular season. Not counting 0-0 scores, the team was tied for just 18 minutes of PDL play.
Match: St. Louis Lions at Des Moines Menace
Date: Friday, July 13, 2018
Competition: Premier Development League regular season
Venue: Valley Stadium (artificial turf) in West Des Moines, Iowa
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CDT
Weather: 80s, overcast with intermittent rain in both halves
Scoreline 1 2 F
MENACE 2 1 3
StL 1 0 1
MENACE – Kino Ryosuke (Marcel Berry) 14
MENACE – Ryosuke (Omar Mohamed) 25
StL – Justin Stinson 29
MENACE – Audi Jepson (Ryosuke) 56
MENACE – Johnny Fenwick (yellow card) 28
StL – Marcos Soma (red card) 30
StL – Josh Graham (yellow card) 88
Corner Kicks: 5-1