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Signing Sacha

By Des Moines Menace, 03/17/24, 7:15PM CDT



Des Moines, Iowa – Sunday, March 17, 2024 - Des Moines Menace Soccer Club (USL League Two) announced today the signing of former U.S. Olympian, MLS All-Star, and US Men's National team midfielder,  Sacha Kljestan, prior to its 2024 U.S. Open Cup campaign.

Menace General Manager Charlie Bales sat down with Menace General Manager Charlie Bales to find out.

CB- People are wondering how this came about?

CB - *chuckles* In December my good friends Blake Siberz, Ben Brackett, and Matt Sahag invited me to go to Anaheim with them for the National Coaches Convention. They run a non-profit called "Kick it Forward" and have made the installation of 25+ Musco Mini-Pitch Systems possible through fundraising efforts. Apparently I "know more people than they do" and with KIF and Musco's attending to raise awareness / identify potential Mini-Pitch partners, I was on a plane to the Golden State on January 10th.

These guys were nagging me to go to a cycling class  with them while we were there (never done one) AND I 100% knew they didn't regularly attend high-intensity, synchronized, cardio experiences, but I agreed to do it. Upon arrival, I learned that a Drake University Men's Soccer  / Des Moines Menace alum (Matt Bourne) was part-owner of the gym (MOXI3) and also the instructor. I also learned that Sacha would be attending the class and was excited to see the mustache I'd seen on TV for so many years in-person. 

Bourne introduced us to Sacha as his "Iowa soccer friends" who were visiting and SK asked if we had ever done a class like it before. When we responded "no" he chuckled and said something along the lines of "it's hard, good luck." AND JUST LIKE THAT the lights went off and it felt like we were in a nightclub with bass pounding, lights strobing, and all these beautiful fit people pedaling faster than I knew was possible while also dancing in unison. 

It was a 45min class and one of the four "Iowa Soccer friends" was donezo after 120sec but I'm not going to name names incase this blows up and goes viral on the world wide web. During the class I was studying Sacha's movements to determine his level of fitness. Naturally, he smashed it and I began to wonder whether or not he could have a 15min break and do it again...

After class concluded and everyone was done laughing at us, we got to talking with Sacha. He informed us that he had been to / played in Iowa, which took me by surprise. His Orange County Blue Stars traveled to Waukee for the PDL National Semi-Final in 2005 to take on the Menace. When he said the year, I knew the result, as that was the Menace's first National Title. From the Wikipedia:

"2005 squad included a number of players who would later go on to grace Major League Soccer and the US Men's National Team, including Sacha KljestanCalen CarrRobbie RogersKamani Hill, and top scorer Kei Kamara from Sierra Leone, who knocked in 12 goals in his 14 starts. Blue Star easily advanced to the post-season playoffs where, after beating Fresno Fuego and Northwest champions Cascade Surge, they fell by the odd goal in three to the eventual national champions, Des Moines Menace."

He knew the Menace so the door had opened for me to say, "Looks like you still got 90minutes in ya" to which he told us about some of the high-level pickup he takes part in. I then told him that I was saving an Open Cup roster spot for him. He asked when and where and I told him Iowa in March. He giggled and said, "that sounds terrible *insert something about the weather." He wasn't wrong as it could be snowing or it could be 70. That's where we left the conversation.

UNTIL we were told that our First Round game MIGHT be "in the Los Angeles area"




And that kids, is how I signed Sacha Kljestan to play for the Des Moines Menace Soccer Club in the 2024 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.



Become a Season Ticket Member - HERE

*If you're out of market let us know and we will donate

Get your SIGNING SACHA Merch - HERE 

*Menace will use a portion of proceeds to purchase fellow USL2 teams First Round U.S. Open Cup tickets  

A Message From the Author

I grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and have been obsessed with the beautiful game for as long as I can remember. Starting at 13 years old I would post-up at SportZone in Hiawatha watching hours of Men's League most Friday nights, soccer bag filled with every colored t-shirt/jersey, waiting for the call-up when a team was short on numbers. I had an itch that couldn't be scratched and I wanted others to feel the same passion.

By 17 I had started and was managing/playing for a team at SportZone called The Almighty HeadButters. I was the only person on the team that had previously played "competitive" soccer. The team had choreographed pre-game dances and hundreds of high school students from around CR would come to watch. We did > $1,000 in net revenue via Almighty HeadButter t-shirt sales. I was having fun and growing the game without even realizing it.

Fast forward to present day and I'm managing a team at a slightly higher level, having more fun than ever. People question why I work the hours I do but this is not work for me. I've been afforded the best possible position in my home state to affect positive change and instill passion for the sport I love. Current Menace player Leroy Enzugusi grew up watching me play at SportZone and I've not called him up to join a men's league game.. he's flying to LA tomorrow to play in America's oldest tournament alongside players who've competed at the highest levels possible. 

When Sacha debuted for the USMNT our Iowa youth soccer player assistant coaches (Cole Poppen & Fred Frimpong) were preparing to make the jump from 5th to 6th grade...which is also nerve wracking.  They asked me "So we are like..supposed to coach him then?" and "What if we need to yell at him?"

Sacha got his buddy Brian Rowe to play keeper for us in the First Round. Brian started over 100 games in Major League Soccer and said "yeah I'm down," when hearing about it for the first time 14-days prior to kickoff. Brian will be paired with Iowa youth soccer GK Brennon Woody. What an amazing opportunity for the Grimes native and Wartburg alum. 

There's going to be plenty of grammatical errors in this. I am a story-teller, not a writer. Not even sure if I was supposed to put a comma there. I'm also short on time due to workload / workouts, as this General Manager has rostered himself for the 2024 competition.. in a year like no other before it, we're here to win some games, have some fun, and make some Menace Magic in the process!