MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota - Des Moines Menace kicked their 2022 USL League Two campaign off with a 2-0 win over Minneapolis City SC Sunday afternoon at Edor Nelson Field.
A loud contingent of Menace faithful was rewarded for their road trip with a dream start to Des Moines’ title defense this season.
The defending national champions kept a clean sheet and scored once in each half despite being reduced to ten men in the 48th minute.
After a 4-2 triumph for Menace in the first meeting between the two sides, Minneapolis City was determined to earn a different result on their home turf.
The Crows, as the home side are affectionately known, were quick to get on the front foot in attack. The home side created chances early and often, forcing three first-half saves from Menace goalkeeper Grant Makela.
Des Moines quickly countered with a patient, possession-based strategy, earning a shot on target for their troubles inside the first quarter-hour.
Roseville, California-born midfielder Ryley Kraft was responsible for the first goal of the campaign, scoring from 35 yards away on a set piece. Formerly on the books at Orlando City B and Richmond Kickers FC, Kraft registered two shots on target.
After the opener at minute 26, the match opened up, resulting in an end-to-end finish to the first half.
It was also a physical end to the half, with three players seeing the referee’s book before the whistle. Center back Connor Langan, a five-year starter at Missouri State University, was the first to receive a booking, and defensive midfielder Luka Nedic followed suit.
SECOND HALF (Menace lead 1-0 at halftime)
With a goal and momentum against them, Minneapolis again got out of the gate quickly.
Just three minutes into the second half, a through ball down the left flank slipped past a pair of Menace defenders. Makela came out of his goal to chase the pass, but as he went to claim it, he took down a City attacker 30 yards from goal. The result was a straight red card in the 48th minute, ending Makela’s day early.
With Makela dismissed, backup goalkeeper Joey Batrouni stepped up to replace him between the sticks. The San Antonio FC academy product went on to make a pair of saves to keep the Menace ahead.
In front of him, a back line made up of Langan, Kori Cupid, and Malik Smith were solid defensively and made Batrouni’s work light with just two City shots to deal with.
In the end, though, a clean sheet wasn’t necessary thanks to a 67th minute finish from Eliot Goldthorp. Nedic unleashed a shot from the right edge of the box which was parried to the opposite side, where winger Luis Maestre was waiting. The Spaniard played a short pass to the front post, where Goldthorp just needed to redirect it from inside six yards.
Goldthorp, a central midfielder who played with Bradford City AFC in England, put the nail in the coffin and opened his account with the Menace.
From there, Menace took care of business, holding strong defensively and holding possession long enough to keep the home team off the scoresheet.
|Shots on target
Starting XI (3-4-1-2): Grant Makela, goalkeeper; Malik Smith, Kori Cupid, and Connor Langan, defenders; Luis Maestre, Luka Nedic, Eliot Goldthorp, Gianluca Fiorini, Ryley Kraft, midfielders; Fernando Garcia, Ryan Kingsford, forwards
Goldthorp and Kraft led the Menace with one goal.
Makela received the only red card of the match and will miss the next contest.
Langan, Nedic, and Cupid all received yellow cards.
Goldthorp and Kraft led the Menace with two shots on target.
Makela led the Menace with three saves, while Batrouni added two.
KICKS AND GIGGLES
The match was a battle of top-ten clubs in the League Two Power Rankings; Menace were ranked #2 and Minneapolis City were ranked #9 at the start of the season.
Menace now holds a 2-0-0 record against Minneapolis City.
Over 800 people were in attendance at Edor Nelson Field at Augsburg University.
Menace extended their winning streak in league matches to eight, dating back to last season
May 14 v St. Croix FC: the Menace look to keep rolling in their home opener as they face another new club to USL League Two.
Come see your Menace at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines this Saturday at 7 p.m. or watch the match live on YouTube.