Chicago, Ill. – The Menace suffer their first regular season loss since June 30, 2021; and the first regular season loss under coach Dean Johnson. Chicago City SC protected their home, earning the most impressive victory within the Heartland Division in the 2023 campaign thus far.
By shutting down Des Moines after an early deficit, the well recruited side have made themselves heard, becoming one of the most dangerous teams to face after an impressive 3-1 victory.
Des Moines lunged on the attack first. Eliot Goldthorp made a case on attack obtaining an early free kick but landing a ball onto the obstructing defender.
In the 4th minute, Lagos Kunga sprinted near the goal line and drove a shot saved by Chicago, trying to tussle his way into the scoresheet.
On the following play, Luka Nedic intercepted a ball which he laid off for Kunga, who used his speed to get past two defenders and chip the ball beautifully over the goalkeeper, giving Menace an early lead.
But the home side began to turn the tide. Ernest Bawa struck the crossbar off a free kick to open a flowing set of scares for Des Moines and goalkeeper Ryan Troutman.
14 minutes in, a dangerous corner for Chicago forced Troutman out of goal, fortunate to escape the situation as a foul was called on the incoming attacker.
Michel Secades, playing an attacking role in the midfield, would try to link up with Kunga in several chances. A strategy that worked effectively the previous match, but not tonight as the home squad was quick to recognize and shut down these outlets.
The field, which is significantly smaller yet valid of regulation, troubled Menace and their ability to work the long ball from their back three.
In the 28th minute, Chicago made a prompt push onto goal, where Sami Charaf, former Menace player, found the space to rifle a shot over Troutman and even the match at 1-1.
Seeking a different approach, Des Moines combined in the midfield before finding Adrien Gameiro on the far side, but his shot was saved by Jackson Weyman, who had 10 saves on the night.
Gameiro would arrive on the right flank again, this time in the 41st minute as he found Secades whose header drifted wide.
Almost stealing the lead at half, Chicago City neared the box and produced a shot that floated its way onto the crossbar. The back four, including Troutman, were beat on the play but left the half in fortune of the score staying at 1-1.
Des Moines upped their aggression on the second but would ultimately come up short.
Trouble would increase for the visitors at the 57th minute. A Chicago set piece saw no response from the backline, when a header from the far post found Lukas Ender on the opposite end who tapped it for 2-1.
Taking control of the game, the home side sought to keep possession as much as possible and force Des Moines to work the counter through Tyrese Spicer, who was brought in after the goal.
In the 63rd minute, Gameiro crossed the ball once again, this time finding Yamazaki who blasted a shot into the post again teasing for goal.
After all, Chicago City would get a chance on the far side, and a cross which struck Kori Cupid’s hand giving them a penalty.
Bawa stepped up and placed it down the middle for 3-1, and a step closer to victory.
Menace responded yet again on offense, but every key chance was shut down or saved by Weyman, who on the side of Chicago would go down as the man of the match.
A tough night for everything Des Moines Menace, a wakeup call even. The Heartland Division is now wide open, and the questions begin to float as there is, at last, an opponent that showed a way to defeat the League Two favorites.
5’ – Lagos Kunga, assisted by Luka Nedic (Menace)
28’ – Sami Charaf (Chicago City)
57’ - Lukas Ender (Chicago City)
66’ – Ernest Bawa (Chicago City)
Des Moines Menace will travel home for an exhibition. Back to Valley Stadium for the Des Moines Derby against Des Moines United FC on Saturday, June 3rd.
Chicago City SC will go on the road for the first time this season. The team will travel to Peoria, for a game also played on June 3.
Starting XI (Des Moines Menace)
Ryan Troutman (goalkeeper); Diego Konnicks, Kori Cupid, Jesse Williams (defenders); Haruki Yamazaki, Luka Nedic, Henry Sach, Michel Secades, Adrien Gameiro (midfielders); Lagos Kunga, Eliot Goldthorp (forwards).
Substitutes: Vicente Valor, Joey Batrouni, Audi Jepson, Tyrese Spicer, Gabi Rodriguez, Curtis De Leon, Dante Huckaby.