Despite plenty of roster fluctuation, Des Moines Menace kept things consistent with the season storyline in a 3-0 win over St. Croix SC Legends in Hudson, Wisconsin.
As has become their habit in 2022, a late first-half goal, second-half firepower, and a clean sheet were a lethal combination against the Legends.
Menace were quick to settle the ball and control the run of play, and they turned that dominance on the ball into chances from the opening whistle.
It only took two minutes to yield the first corner kick of the night for the visitors, one of an eventual seven. Attacking midfielder Ryley Kraft whipped in a ball to the back post, but it was met by plenty of home defenders and cleared.
While Kraft created early in the first half, many of the goal-scoring chances belonged to striker Brandon Bermingham.
The dual citizen of Ireland and Northern Ireland had a clear-cut chance from inside 10 yards that was saved well by St. Croix's keeper in the 10th minute.
Another chance went begging for Bermingham in the 24th minute, when a side-footed effort inside the six-yard box went just wide of the far post.
Another corner from Kraft came soon after, this time being met by the head of center back Zeron Sewell. His header from close range was just too high, leaving Menace to keep pushing for an opener.
Amid dangerous free kick chances, a pair of yellow cards for Legends, and more near misses, Menace still found themselves without a goal as halftime approached.
In the 45th minute, however, Bermingham finally found his elusive goal on a through ball from wing back Gianluca Fiorini. Bermingham opened his Menace account with the finish, scoring in only his second appearance for the club.
The second half was mostly a mirror of the first, with Menace dominating the attacking phase of play. Three shots inside the box ended up wide in the first twelve minutes, coming from Luka Nedic, Fiorini, and Bermingham, respectively.
Kraft was able to steer a shot on target in the 58th minute, but the goalkeeper was equal to his effort.
On the other end, meanwhile, Legends pushed to find an equalizer. An opportunity stemmed from a counterattack forced Menace goalkeeper Grant Makela to make a diving save to his left, stopping a shot from just five yards out.
Using the energy from the chance, Legends pushed on and took more control of the match until the 68th minute, when Thierno Gueye received a second yellow card, forcing Legends to finish with 10 men.
Soon after, Kraft capitalized on high pressing in the attacking third to score from close range, dispatching his second goal on the campaign and the second of the evening for Menace.
A third goal would come in stoppage time to put the game to bed via Brazilian attacker Felipe D'Agostini. Outside back Eddie Speed played an aerial ball from the right that found D'Agostini in the box, who did the rest. D'Agostini rounded the goalkeeper and was left to simply tap in the goal.
The third goal would serve as the final one, coming just moments before the full-time whistle in Hudson.
Starting XI (3-4-1-2): Grant Makela, goalkeeper; Connor Langan, Zeron Sewell, Malik Smith, defenders; Gianluca Fiorini, Yanis Lelin, Luka Nedic, Lance Rozeboom, Ryley Kraft, midfielders; Brandon Bermingham, Alessandro Salvadego, forwards
Bermingham made his first start of the year for Menace, also scoring his first goal.
After midfielder Eliot Goldthorp was not selected due to injury, no Menace player has started every match this season in USL League Two.
Veteran midfielder Lance Rozeboom, who represented Menace in the US Open Cup in March, made his first appearance in the USL League Two campaign this year.
Striker Brayan Padilla and center back Jonas Büchte came off the bench to make their first appearances for Menace this season.
KICKS AND GIGGLES
With the win, Menace claims the season series and leads the all-time series record 2-0.
Menace have a two-match winning streak and have not lost in 15 regular-season matches.
Six players have scored multiple goals for Menace this season; no player has scored more than three.
Menace stay on the road with a midweek match in Illinois against Peoria City Wednesday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Shea Stadium.