ST. PETERS, Mo. – May 23, 2009 – Off to its best start since 2002, the Des Moines Menace is undefeated in its four qualifying matches for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup – but it is not returning to this year’s cup.
In a showdown between the two 3-0 teams in the Premier Development League’s Heartland Division, the Menace needed to defeat the St. Louis Lions tonight to secure a spot in the U.S. Open Cup.
At the Tony Glavin Soccer Complex, the home team clinched its second-straight berth in the Open Cup, fighting back for a 2-2 draw. Though the Menace and the Lions share identical 3-0-1 marks, St. Louis claims the division’s spot in the cup, claiming it on a tie-breaker: goal differential.
“The bottom line is we’re still undefeated in Open Cup play,” said Menace head coach Casey Mann. “At the end of the day, we’re still in first place. Our guys battled. It was a tough match. Their guys never quit, and our guys never quit.
“Nobody beat us to get to the Open Cup,” Mann continued. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’m proud of our guys.”
The Menace overcame a 1-0 halftime deficit to take a 2-1 lead in the 69th minute. Jack Pearson’s unassisted header came five minutes after Sterling Copeland set up Darryl Odom, who scored off the post in his Menace debut.
St. Louis tied it up when Olly Dyson found the back of the net off a corner kick in the 74th minute. Teammate Stephen Brocks gave the Lions their early lead when he scored 17 minutes into the match. Following a through ball and a one-on-one situation, Brocks scored on a rebound off the hands of Des Moines goalie Sean Molony.
Tonight’s match was the first of back-to-back meetings between these teams. The Menace hosts the Lions next Saturday (May 30) at Valley Stadium.
“Now it becomes all about the standings,” Mann said. “We’ll turn around and get ready for next weekend. We’ve got an intense rivalry with the Lions, and we’re excited to have them at our place. We feel that we’ve got a lot to play for.”
This is the fifth tie in the teams’ all-time series. Tony Glavin’s team has defeated the Menace three times since Des Moines won the teams’ initial meeting in May 2006.
COMING UP: Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. next Saturday (May 30) at Valley Stadium. It is the final time the Menace and the Lions will play each other before their July 18 regular-season finale at Valley Stadium
Saturday’s match is Tomas Boltnar Night and “Black-out Night.” The team will be celebrating the career of Boltnar, who retired this off-season as the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. Fans who wear black get in for $5. The first 500 fans will receive “Sheraton shades,” thanks to the night’s title sponsor, Sheraton West Des Moines hotel.
ANOTHER CLOSE CALL: The Menace had one other shot at qualifying for the Open Cup tonight. The team’s entry in the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) regionals fell just short, losing 3-2 to Bavarian S.C. in Milwaukee, after leading 2-1 late in the match.