Players shaking hands in the parking lot did not take away from the Des Moines Menace coming together on Wednesday night.
Fielding a squad of local talent and college players just off for the summer, Des Moines moved onto the next round of the US Open Cup with a 2-1 win over Madison Fire SC in front of a home crowd at Valley Stadium. A more complete squad will be ready for Saint Louis FC on next Wednesday, May 20, in St. Louis, Mo.
“We’ve got guys showing up last night; we’ve got guys showing up today,” Matkovich said. “We need some time to organize together, time to train.”
Forward Vincent Cicciarelli made an immediate impact on the game, despite having been with the team for less than 24 hours. His goal in the 35th minute opened the scoring for the Menace. Charlie Bales sliced through the defense, dribbling through the Madison backline before finding the new forward open on the back post. Cicciarelli’s tap into the back of the net gave Des Moines a 1-0 lead at the half.
Bales, playing in his fifth season with the Menace, showed his experience for a second time in the match. Collecting the ball on the wing after a darting run from the back, his cross found the neon shoes of substitute Ramone Howell in front of the net. The fresh legs reached out for the ball and redirected the cross into the back of the net in the 62nd minute.
Madison made the game interesting late, with a penalty kick from Trevor Banks. The foul was called on Des Moines’ Alec Bartlett for muscling Ryan Hanna to the ground in the penalty area. Banks, despite the delay from goalkeeper Paul Blanchette arguing with the referee, spotted his shot in the shooter’s low-left corner in the 76th minute.
“We made it a little harder on ourselves than it needed to be,” Matkovich said. “I knew it would difficult; any Cup game is difficult. We’ve got to be better down the stretch. Those are lessons we’ll learn.”
While player-coach David Kommavang had some, Madison Fire came into the game without any Open Cup experience. The Fire, who compete in the Wisconsin Soccer League, earned their first trip to the tournament by winning a single qualifying game in the United States Adult Soccer Association. They defeated fellow Region II team FC Indiana 1-0 on Oct. 4. Kommavang’s time in the tournament happened in 2011, when he came on as a substitute for the Madison 56ers in their 4-0 win over the AAC Eagles (USASA).
The Menace’s sixth-consecutive appearance in the Open Cup – 10th overall – travels through St. Louis. In 2010, the Menace lost to AC St. Louis, 1-0, at home, continuing a streak of misfortune at Valley Stadium. From 2010-2012, all of the Menace’s tournament-ending games came in front of a home crowd.
“St. Louis will be exciting,” Bales said. “It’s going to be a good test, playing a USL squad, and seeing what level we’re really at.”
Having the weekend off will allow USL side Saint Louis FC more time to prepare for the second-round clash, while Des Moines opens the Premier Development League season with a game in Springfield, Mo. Wednesday’s Open Cup game is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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