With hopes of producing similar magic to the 2005 run, the Des Moines Menace will be taking a different route through the 2017 U.S. Open Cup, being drawn against Eastern teams.
The Menace qualified for its eighth straight appearance in the tournament as one of the 10 PDL division winners to receive an automatic berth based on 2016 season results. AFC Cleveland, meanwhile, is the reigning NPSL champion. The Royals qualified for the 2016 NPSL playoffs with an 8-2 record in the Great Lakes East Conference.
The last time the Menace had to face a team from the Eastern region of the United States came in 2005, when Des Moines beat the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL2), Charleston Battery (USL1), and Atlanta Silverbacks (USL1) en route to a fourth-round appearance against the Kansas City Wizards. That showing is the Menace’s longest run in the tournament the team’s previous 11 appearances.
Last year, Des Moines fell at the hands of San Antonio FC in Des Moines. On the way to setting up the third-round game with the Texans, the Menace came back against FC Wichita on the road and added a home shutout over USL side Tulsa in the second round. San Antonio rallied from a one-goal deficit to pull out the road victory, setting up a fourth-round date with MLS side Houston Dynamo in Houston.
AFC Cleveland is not a stranger to PDL opponents. The NPSL side beat GPS Portland Phoenix (Maine) to reach the second round. Against USL side Saint Louis FC, The Royals lost 2-0, ending its first U.S. Open Cup appearance.
A win by Des Moines would mark the sixth straight year the Menace has reached at least the second round. The highlight of that run came in 2013, when Des Moines beat Minnesota United FC and squared off against Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Sporting Park in front of more than 15,000 fans.
Waiting in the second round will be FC Cincinnati. A Des Moines win would mean that Cincinnati would make the trek to Des Moines, while a Cleveland win results in the second round game in Cincinnati.
Minnesota United FC, along with the rest of Major League Soccer, will be introduced to the tournament in the fourth round, starting on June 14.