Sean Hoek of the Des Moines Menace attemps a shot in the club's USASA Region II semifinal match against RWB Adria. Photo: Art Schramm | Wing Nutt Photography
On a snow-covered field Saturday night, the Des Moines Menace smashed three goals in a span of 15 minutes to ease past RWB Adria in the semifinals of the USASA Region II tournament. With the finalists in the touranment clinching a spot in the 2014 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, the victory puts the USASA edition of the Menace club back in the tournament for the first time since 2011.
In the other semifinal, Schwaben AC punched their ticket to the tournament for the first time in half a century with a 3-1 win over AAC Eagles in an all-Illinois match-up. The last time Schwaben AC took part in the US Open Cup, it was 1964 and the Beatles had just released their debut album and US National Team manager Jurgen Klinsmann was born.
The format for the 2014 US Open Cup tournament has yet to be released, but the USASA is expected to received two spots from each of their four regions. Region I and III have decided to submit their teams based on last season’s results, while Region II elected to hold a brief tournament before the Dec. 31 qualifying deadline. Region IV has yet to finalize their plans.
Ben Taylor of the Des Moines Menace tries to control the ball in the snow against RWB Adria. Photo: Art Schramm | Wing Nutt Photography
With the PDL version of the Menace club expected to qualify based on their 2013 league results, this will mark the first time in the Modern Professional Era (1995-present) that two entries from the same club will participate in the US Open Cup.
Michael Thaden opened the scoring for the Menace in the 49th minute after putting home a Taylor Ostrander cross from the left flank. Ostrander pushed through the snowy terrain to track down a long ball in a bit of space before finding a streaking Thaden in the center of the field. Thaden collected the ball at the top of the penalty area and ripped off a shot with his second touch.
The shot blew past Igor Dimov for RWB Adria to propel the Menace to a one-goal lead.
Sean Hoek put his name on the scoring summary after he produced a solo effort to put away a low line drive into the net. After collecting a long ball from the defense nearly 30 yards out, Hoek blew past the Adria back line to find space on the right side of the penalty area. Having the angle on Dimov, Hoek produced a line drive, which snuck inside the right post, giving the Menace a 2-0 lead at the 54-minute mark.
“It felt good, especially after the way the game was going,” Hoek said about his goal. “The game was fun, though. I’ve played on a frozen field in a tournament, but never played in snow.”
Darren Marcello of the Des Moines Menace sends a goal kick up the field against RWB Adria. Photo: Art Schramm | Wing Nutt Photography
Mike Noonan would flick home an Espriu cross in the 64th minute to put Des Moines up by three, but Adria began finding a foothold in the snow with just under 25 minutes to play. Adnan Ejupovic and Martin Khoshaba began stringing some offensive threats together for the Chicago side, but just could not hit the frame.
The best chance for RWB Adria came late in the game, when Des Moines goalkeeper Darren Marcello mishandled a cross from the right side. Alex Ricketts put a head on the ball, popping it up but on frame in the dying minutes of the game. The ball would have found the net, but Jack Pearson would ease the ball away, giving away a corner but preserving the clean sheet.
Dimov did make key saves down the stretch, giving Adria a bit of confidence. The biggest call to action was a one-on-one situation with Des Moines’ Tucker Sindlinger near the top of the penalty area. Sindlinger tried to curl in a shot to the right post, but Dimov came up with an acrobatic diving save in the end.
The Menace side, featuring a mix of alumni of the PDL team and current college students, brought more heat in a game that was 12 degrees at kickoff.
“I thought the beginning of the game was more of a feeling out process, especially with the field conditions and a team we had never seen before,” said Menace head coach Mike Jeffries. “I thought the second half, we had little more of a sense on how we wanted to get at them, with more direct play. It was not necessarily long balls, but just getting forward a bit quicker.”
The Menace will be joined in the 2014 US Open Cup, and the USASA Region II championship game by Schwaben AC who neeeded two late goals to defeat fellow Chicago-area club AAC Eagles.
The goals came in the 76th and 78th minutes It took two late goals, in the 76th and 78th-minutes to come up with a winner. Schwaben AC, of Illinois, punched their ticket to the 2014 US Open Cup by virtue of a 3-1 win over the AAC Eagles.
The last time Schwaben competed in the US Open Cup was when they lost in the semifinals of the 1964 tournament. Prior to that, their Open Cup participation dates back to at least 1943. Their best finish came in 1956 when they were runners-up after losing an exciting championship series to the Harmarville Hurricanes (Pittsburgh).
Schwaben and the Eagles possessed two completely different playing styles, with Schwaben electing to play over the top to beat them with speed, while the Eagles were more tactical and connected the passes through the middle of the field. Schwaben won the contest in the second half with goals in the 76th and 78th minutes when tired legs took over in the Eagles backline.
The game-winner came on a failed clearance inside the penalty area with less than 15 minutes remaining. Schwaben tracked down a long ball from the defense in the offensive third and looked to get in a cross from the left flank. An end line cross was sent toward the penalty spot, with the Eagles making first contact on the ball. The attempted clearance was poor, and it would be their downfall. A mad scramble in the penalty area ensued, with Schwaben finally poking in a shot. The ball was lost amongst the amount of bodies, but by the time the Eagles saw it, it was already in the back of the net.
Adding a bit of insurance, Schwaben tucked away a final goal two minutes later on a breakaway created from a long ball from the backline.
Early on, SAC had more of the game, scoring right away. Schwaben controlled more of the possession in the first half and it was rewarded with a 15th minute goal. The ball built up from the back playing through the defenders and using the midfielders to push forward. Schwaben pushed down the right side, breaking past the Eagles defense and taking the ball into the penalty area. Faced with a one-on-one situation, Schwaben got the better of the Eagles goalkeeper this time around, and smashed home a rocket to take the 1-0 lead.
Eagles did bring a bit of momentum into the closing moments of the first half after their goal brought them back on level terms. A dangerous free kick was the ultimate demise of SAC, after the goalkeeper called off his defenders to collect the delivery. The AAC Eagles sprung past their marks and powered home a header from 15 yards out to draw the teams back to an even playing field.
Willy Schaeffer, part of the Schwaben AC squad, offered his thoughts following the game: “Both teams were fluent today. The field conditions were frozen, but overall both teams did well. I was proud of the effort put forth today.”
MATCH: RWB ADRIA V. DES MOINES MENACE
DATE: Saturday, November 23, 2013
COMPETITION: USASA National Cups, Region II Tournament, Semifinals
Des Moines: Michael Thaden (Thomas Ostrander) – 49th min.
Des Moines: Sean Hoek – 54th min.
Des Moines: Michael Noonan (Rodrigo Espriu) – 64th min.
RWB Adria: Martin Khoshaba (Yellow Card) – 44th min.
RWB Adria: Igor Dimov (Yellow Card) – 84th min.
RWB Adria: Adnan Ejupovic (Red Card) – 90th+ min.
DES MOINES STARTERS:
GK- Darren Marcello
D- Sergio Leiva
D- Ben Taylor
D- Jack Pearson
D- Chris Scott
M- Bruno Moreas
M- Sean Hoek
M- Michael Thaden
F- Thomas Ostrander
F- Rodrigo Espriu
F- Michael Noonan
RWB ADRIA STARTERS:
GK- Igor Dimov