Des Moines Menace’s Matthew Homonoff on Growing the Game in Iowa
For over 20 years, Des Moines Menace Soccer Club has been a pioneer in the region for the growth of soccer. Originally fielding a PDL team, the organization has expanded into a full development club that includes youth programs as well as investment into the women’s soccer.
The Des Moines Menace women’s side will again suit up for an exciting season in the WPSL as kickoff approaches next month.
The Menace launched its WPSL program in 2012, introducing a new opportunity in the region for women to continue their playing career.
In addition to the club’s WPSL squad, Menace SC also fields a Premier Development League (PDL) team that played its inaugural season back in 1994. The PDL squad has claimed accolades over the years with 14 PDL Playoffs appearances and three berths to the final four. The Menace won the 2005 PDL Championship and earned a pair of PDL regular-season titles in 2002 and 2014.
At the youth level, the organization includes the Menace Soccer Foundation, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that encourages the interest and participation of youth soccer. The foundation consists of the Junior Menace, Youth Academy, youth tournaments and camps and clinics.
GoalNation spoke with General Manager Matthew Homonoff on his inspiration for growing the game and his aspirations for 2017 and beyond.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are the responsibilities of the Division Coordinator Central of the WPSL?
Matthew Homonoff: I oversee operations, including scheduling, playoff logistics and adherence to league standards, for the Heartland, Great Lakes, Valley and Southwest Regions.
Diane Scavuzzo: When did you first start working with the WPSL?
Matthew Homonoff: I have been working for the WPSL for three years, initially as a Regional Commissioner in 2014 and then as the Central Division Coordinator from 2015 through this season.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the biggest challenge?
Matthew Homonoff: The biggest challenge is overcoming the wide range of available resources and commitment levels various teams have. While this is true in any league set-up, it’s particularly difficult in a situation like ours where teams depend on one another to be good business partners off the field.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are your goals?
Matthew Homonoff: My goal is continue to offer the best possible experience for our teams and players – while raising the level of competition on the field and standards off it.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why do you believe that the WPSL has been so successful over the years and thrived — growing to over 110 teams this season?
Matthew Homonoff: The WPSL continues to thrive because of its commitment to inclusiveness.
As a league, I think we do a great job assisting teams to raise their game each season. That commitment, combined with the relatively low cost of operating a team and the increasing popularity of the women’s game around the country, is a recipe for continued growth.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why have so many professional women’s soccer league failed while the WPSL has grown?
Matthew Homonoff: It’s simple economics! Previous leagues did not have the financial backing to make up for the difference in revenue versus expenses. The NWSL has something none of its predecessors did – significant financial support of the US, Mexican and Canadian Federations.
Diane Scavuzzo: How competitive is the Central area in the WPSL?
Matthew Homonoff: Despite significant expansion over the past five years or so, the Central Division remains one of the most competitive in the country.
The Chicago Red Stars Reserves have set the standard, winning the Division the past three consecutive seasons. FC Dallas came on strong last season before falling to Chicago in the Divisional Final, and the Dayton Dutch Lions had a great debut season in the WPSL – winning the Valley Region in their first try after years in the (now defunct) W-League.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are the biggest rivalries?
Matthew Homonoff: The biggest rivalries include Chicago – Des Moines in the Heartland and Dayton – Fire & Ice in the Valley. FC Dallas (Southwest) and Motor City FC (Great Lakes) are the favorites to win their regions heading into this season.
Diane Scavuzzo: When did you become in involved in soccer?
Matthew Homonoff: I started with D.C. United in 2003 as an entry-level sales rep. I loved the game and remain grateful for the opportunity to come to work every day and live my passion for it.
Diane Scavuzzo: What inspires you?
Matthew Homonoff: Players who want to do what it takes to be successful at the next level inspire me.
When I hear that a player wants to come to Des Moines to fight for playing time rather than go somewhere else where it might be guaranteed assures me we are doing something right. People are often surprised to learn that prior to 2013, I had never worked for a franchise that also had women’s team.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the one moment/experience/decision you would like to turn back the clock and change?
Matthew Homonoff: I wish I had attended more World Cup games when it was in the U.S. in ’94 (Men’s), ’99 (Women’s) and ’03 (Women’s). The USA-Sweden game at RFK Stadium in 2003 remains one of the most memorable events I’ve ever attended.
Diane Scavuzzo: If you could pick any super power, what would it be and why?
Matthew Homonoff: The ability to see the future – so I can budget now for making the playoffs!
Diane Scavuzzo: What was your playing career like?
Matthew Homonoff: I had an unremarkable youth soccer career growing up in Rhode Island and did not play in college, but I have absolutely loved coaching my kid’s teams. I encourage anybody who may be losing sight of the joys of the game to go back and coach a U6 team – IF you can handle the parents ….