While the weather in West Des Moines, Iowa attempted to quell the excitement of the 2022 US Open Cup’s First Round, the on-pitch action absolutely would not have it.
A six-goal thriller kept a small, yet passionate throng of supporters enthralled from start to finish as the Des Moines Menace rode out as 4-2 winners over a strong Minneapolis City Soccer Club. A brace from Menace substitute-striker Alessandro Salvadego was the difference after he scored the winner in the 69th minute and added an insurance goal ten minutes later to deliver a loss to Minneapolis in the club’s long-awaited Open Cup debut.
Temperatures in the mid-30s with drizzling rain and wet conditions on the turf initially led to a cagey affair at Valley Stadium. Towering midfielder, Man of the Match and Iowa native, Lance Rozeboom, led the battle in midfield for the Reds, while Aidan O’Driscoll brought the fight for the clever Crows.
Speaking of the Crows, they gloriously opened the scoring after 20 minutes when Lionel Vang hit a laser beam free kick from 30 yards out to the top left corner of the net. After the stunning opener, it was clear that the home team was feeling the pressure of their status and they retaliated to make it 1-1 before halftime when Maxi Galizzi scored after bundling home due to consistent pressure from the Menace.
The teams went in level at halftime with Menace coach Dean Johnson in charge of his first match with Kyle Krause on the sideline and general manager, Charlie Bales, in the stands. Both coaches were quick to get their charges to their respective locker rooms as the rain and wind whipped – it seemed to get worse while they recharged their batteries and received their marching orders. The second half kicked off to a crowd that would not disperse.
A slow start to the second half that saw a continued midfield battle that was highlighted by no real chances. The Menace eventually took the lead in the 56th minute when William Rodrigues was first to react after a flowing Minneapolis City move led to a great save from Crows’ goalkeeper, Troy Louwagie.
The Crows equalized at 2-2 in the 61st minute via their danger man, late add, Loic Mesanvi, who smashed home after a direct attack sprung the Crows, who benefitted from a defensive mistake in the Menace backline. Two of the three defenders for Des Moines were wearing “athletic” tights, so perhaps they had not gotten warm enough to catch the speedy Mesavani, a high school student who provided several moments of brilliance in the game, including an incisive run highlighted by two very slick nutmegs.
Ironically enough, Menace matchwinner Alessandro Salvadego entered the match just prior to the Crows’ fightback, which was eventually murdered with a quickfire double in the 69th and 79th minutes. The Menace were not willing to surrender their lead and despite the intensity that the visitors brought, Des Moines quietly got things under control and enjoyed celebrating with their fans.
With the win, the Menace gained ground on the Flint City Bucks. The victory gave Des Moines 13 all-time Open Cup wins as a franchise, which is the second-most of any amateur teams in the Modern Era (1995-present). The only team with more is the Bucks who have 15.
The result leads to an appetizing matchup pitting the Des Moines Menace, reigning USL League Two champions against USL League One Champions, Omaha Union on April 5 at Morrison Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska.