What a great night for soccer it was tonight! Des Moines United FC hosted Ehtar Belleville FC, and what a game it was. Fans could not ask for a better battle than what we could watch this evening at Indianola Stadium. The teams faced each other during the Memorial Day weekend, and Ehtar came up with a huge win over Des Moines United FC.
Tonight, it was a night where Des Moines United FC wanted to respond and prove the reason why the home team is leading the Midwest Gateway Conference by playing a team that gave the home team its only loss this season.
Des Moines United FC started the game by controlling the tempo and creating a lot of chances from the beginning of the game, but again, the home team was not finishing the opportunities, which gave the visitors some hope to go home with a big win on the road.
The home team created four clear chances to open the scoreboard, but what the fans saw was a very well played counterattack from Ehtar Belleville, and a deflection on the shot helped the visitors open the scoreboard in the 37th minute of the game. The home side goalkeeper, Rayane El Mehdi, also had a great save to keep the visitors with only one goal as the teams went to halftime.
Des Moines United FC had to sort things out quickly during halftime to be able to come up with the win in 45 minutes and keep their hopes up about finishing the conference up top. As the home side came back up, fans started to be louder in the stands, and we could see that they still believed in a turnaround for Des Moines United.
That was exactly what we could see as the second half started. The home team pushed the lines up and was pressuring the visitors up high. For Ehtar, their plan was to be able to counterattack and finish the game, but at the 55th minute, after a great run from the defender Austin Holteback, playing short passes and breaking up the lines of Ehtar, the ball was clean for Lesego Maloma, who just had the work of dislocating the goalkeeper and evening out the game at 1-1.
Des Moines United kept pressing high, and in another great counterattack, Ehtar Belleville had the chance to go up on the scoreboard once again, but Rayane El Mehdi came up big and made the save of the match, denying the second goal for the visitors and giving huge momentum to the home team.
In the 90th minute, a free kick was given to Des Moines United on the right side of the field. Charlie Bales delivered the ball exactly to Kais Sabic; the Frenchman just had to dislocate the keeper to get the second goal for the home team.
After the game, we spoke to Head Coach Francisco Fernandes, who said, "It was a great team performance tonight. We still need to improve the aspect of finishing our chances and not giving the opponent chances to stay in the game," said Fernandes. "We kept possession for most of the game, and this makes it harder for the opponents; we need to be that team that finishes 4 out of 5 chances we create in the game. That’s the mentality we must have if we want to win the conference and have a shot at the Nationals."
Coach Fernandes also gave a S/O to his goalkeeper for his brilliant performance tonight: "Rayane's performance tonight was phenomenal; he had two key saves that kept us in the game, and they were crucial for our win. Now we have turned the key and are already thinking about the game tomorrow against Club Atletico St. Louis, which will be just as hard as it was tonight."
Des Moines United will be back tomorrow, June 10th, to face Club Atletico St. Louis at 2 p.m. in Marshalltown at the Marshalltown Community College.