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Heartland frontrunners collide in Chicago

By Des Moines Menace, 06/19/18, 2:15PM CDT


The division's top two teams tangle when the Menace visits Chicago for a Tuesday-Wednesday twinbill.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Tuesday, June 19, 2018 – The top two teams in the Premier Development League’s Heartland Division will go toe-to-toe tonight and tomorrow.

Riding the best start in the franchise’s 25-year history, the Des Moines Menace (7-0-0) looks to keep it going against Chicago FC United (5-1-0).

Until recently, Des Moines and Chicago were the PDL’s only unbeaten and untied teams. On Saturday, the Menace preserved its unblemished record with a 1-0 home win over Thunder Bay, shortly after Chicago lost 2-1 at St. Louis.

In the dash for the division’s two playoff berths, Des Moines and Chicago – the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the Central Conference Power Rankings – have distanced themselves from the rest of the pack. The next spot belongs to 4-4-1 Kaw Valley – an expansion club coming to Valley Stadium this Saturday and also June 29.

This trip to the Windy City concludes the Menace’s road schedule. The team will be at home the next four weekends to wrap up the season.

DATES and TIMES: Tuesday, June 19 and Wednesday, June 20 at 7 p.m. both nights
VENUE: Loyola Soccer Park (artificial-turf field) in Chicago, Ill.
COMPETITION: Premier Development League regular season
  • 7-0-0 – surpassing the 2003 Menace for the best start in franchise history.
  • Has outscored opponents 18-2 – 6-0 in the first half and 12-2 in the second half.
  • Kino Ryosuke leads the PDL with eight goals; Audi Jepsen is second on the Menace with three goals.
  • Keegan Meyer has a 5-0-0 record with a 0.20 Goals Against Average. Carlos Mercado is 2-0-0 with a 0.50 GAA.
  • First-year head coach Alen Marcina is assisted by Dario Pots and goalkeeping coach Devala Gorrick.
  • Entered the franchise’s 25th season with an all-time record of 267-154-37 (237-126-37 regular season; 16-16 PDL playoffs; 14-12 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup). 
  • 5-1-0, getting ready to play five of its next six matches at home.
  • Before a 2-1 loss at St. Louis on Saturday, had outscored foes 14-1.
  • 2017 Menace alum Luke Haakenson (two goals, two assists) and Jesus Perez (three goals) share the team lead with six points apiece.
  • Also on the roster: Ryan Sierakowski, who scored twice against the Menace last season, is the league’s No. 6 prospect, though he has not yet appeared in a 2018 match for Chicago.
  • Charlie Trout is in his second season as Chicago’s head coach.
  • Des Moines and Chicago are tied, 1-1-1, in a series that began last year.
  • In 2017, the Menace earned a 1-1 draw on June 20 in Chicago in the teams’ first meeting; Johan De Picker’s header heroics in the closing moments of second-half stoppage time earned a point for the Menace.
  • The teams split a pair of 2017 matches at Valley Stadium: Chicago won 1-0 on June 24 (snapping the Menace’s home winning streak at 24) and Des Moines won 2-0 on July 15 (to clinch a playoff berth in the final match of the regular season).
  • Chicago closes its 2018 season with a July 6-7 doubleheader against the Menace at Valley Stadium.
  • On the heels of a 2-0 exhibition loss to Nebraska Bugeaters FC last Friday, the Menace won when it counted; Des Moines downed arch-rival Thunder Bay, 1-0 last Saturday at home.
  • Anthony Manning’s header goal, set up by captain Brandon Fricke’s head assist, came in the 46th minute of Saturday’s victory.
  • The Menace is back at Valley Stadium this Saturday, welcoming PDL newcomer Kaw Valley FC for the first time.
  • The June 23 match is preceded by the 2018 Iowa High School All-Star Game for the girls.