The team kicked off their season at 2016 Heartland Division champions Des Moines Menace on 20 May. The weather was cold – around 10C at kick off – and the wind was howling.
WSA Winnipeg defended well for the majority of the game with the Menace enjoying what seemed to be at least 2/3 of the possession in the first half. The team stayed organized and compact and kept any major threats to the wings.
In the 10th minute high pressure from the Menace caused a turn over in the WSA penalty area. A rare mistake as centre back Tom Prazak lunged for the ball and got too much of the Menace attacker and gave away the penalty. WSA Winnipeg Man of the Match Evan Barker stepped up with an excellent read on the shot, dove and deflected it out for a corner – a highlight reel save.
Menace held possession for the majority of the first half but were unable to find the decisive pass to break down the Winnipeg block. When WSA won back the ball they looked to play direct counter attacks with balls in behind to the strikers. They did created a couple half chances when they attacked.
The breakthrough for the home team came in the 33rd minute, with a wonder strike free kick from Menace striker Hayden Partain. He curled the kick over the wall and found the upper 90 from about 22 yards out.
The second half started much like 1st ended – Des Moines probing but not finding the opening. WSA Winnipeg did find a few more chances in the 2nd half with some good wide play from newcomer, winger Daniel Sagno. His delivery was good all night and he created chances for striker Will Brown.
Des Moines sealed the win in the 81st minute with a quick counter from the wing while WSA was looking for an equalizer. Menace striker Devyn Jambga slotted home past Barker.
It was an encouraging effort from WSA Winnipeg as the 2016 season series with Des Moines was 3 losses and they were outscored 22-0. The team held their shape well and defended as a unit. Evan Barker lead the team with many quality saves and patrolled his area with confidence. And the newcomers – winger Daniel Sagno and centre back Evan Van Dale – looked comfortable and are already up to speed.
WSA Winnipeg continues their 5 game road trip Sunday night in St. Louis for a game against the Lions. Then they’re up against St. Louis FC May 23 & 24.