skip navigation

Stepping into the Light: Playing for Des Moines Menace

By Staff, 04/03/24, 3:15PM EDT


With former pros like Sacha Kljestan now in the fold, opportunity exists for Cyrus Harmon and Leroy Enzugusi

Cyrus Harmon and Leroy Enzugusi celebrate a goal in the 2023 USL League Two season

Leroy Enzugusi and Cyrus Harmon have never played in a top flight league. They haven’t appeared for senior national teams, and haven’t been in the spotlight on a national scale outside of their accomplishments in USL League Two and in college.

There’s no nervousness about them as they approach the prospect of defeating a second straight professional team in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, though. The Des Moines Menace duo asked to do their interview together, ahead of their match with USL League One side Union Omaha.

Enzugusi is relaxed, taking the call at home, seated at his desk and oozing the confidence you’d expect of someone that knows there are goals for him to score regardless of the opponent. He leans back in his chair, and a smile never leaves his face when talking about Des Moines. This is fun for him.

Harmon joins the interview from Houston, where he’s preparing to travel for training for his second-round match. He’s quieter, and standing, but is immaculately calm.

“After the game, I’m coming back to Houston,” Harmon grins. “If we win, I’m coming back to Houston to prepare for the next round. If we lose, I’m still going back to Houston. So I’m just going to go give 100 percent, and we’re not going for fun. This is a business trip, and we’re going to get our business done.”

In the First Round of the Open Cup, Enzugusi and Harmon both scored goals on a Des Moines Menace team that is rapidly approaching national notoriety for the list of former stars joining their ranks. Sacha Kljestan, Brian Rowe, Roger Espinoza, AJ DeLaGarza and Tesho Akindele are all former pros that are expected to be part of the side in the Second Round.

“It didn’t seem real until we got to the first training session,” Enzugusi said. “I obviously know Sacha, like I’ve heard of him all the time, I’ve seen him on TV… when we got to the training pitch, you just saw his quality and class. And it was like wow, this guy’s serious.”

Kljestan and Rowe made headlines when they joined the club for the match against Capo FC in the First Round. Rowe made several important saves, and Kljestan provided the assist for the first goal, a huge switch on the volley from half field to the feet of Harmon, who tucked it away.

“That pass, it was literally what we were talking about in training,” Harmon said. “We did a passing pattern with the starting team, [Kljestan] got the pass first. And when I took a first touch, he said ‘Hey Cyrus, come here. When I take this ball on my right, just make the run.’ I was waiting for that pass the whole first half, and it wasn’t happening because it was tight. So when that moment happened in the game, I was just like ‘yeah, I’ve got to start going.’”

Harmon, often a wide midfielder or a forward from Liberia, has also done the rounds in the Great Lakes region of League Two. While playing for Lindsey Wildon college, Harmon played his summers at Kalamazoo FC, and etched in iconic moments for the club with match winners and decisive goals aplenty. He said he wanted something more.

“I went [to Kalamazoo], I played two years there, it was really good. Scored goals, I was one of the league prospect players,” Harmon said. “Then I was like, I’ve got to go somewhere else… Des Moines, I went up against the Menace when I was in Kalamazoo. We lost in the first round of the playoffs, I got a red card in that game. But the fans were crazy.”

Enzugusi comes from an MLS academy background. A Sporting Kansas City kid, the 24-year-old striker never had much interest in leaving Iowa. Raised in Marion, Enzugusi won state titles at the club and high school level, was the Gatorade Iowa Player of the Year in 2016, and chose to attend Drake University, in Des Moines, for his entire college career. Playing for the Menace only made sense, after stops in Lansing and Flint early in his college career.

“The fans are the best. Cyrus knows, I like scoring goals in front of the fans, and doing good, being able to do all that stuff,” Enzugusi said. “You can score goals at Kalamazoo and Lansing and Flint and all these places, but I think, scoring goals at Des Moines Menace with the fans, even the fourth or fifth goal is still a party.”

In 2023, the connection was forged between Enzugusi and Harmon – two forwards that have done their time in college, have done several years in League Two, now teammates for one of the most storied pre-professional clubs in the country. The duo were involved in a thrilling playoff run that season, seeing off RKC Third Coast and Thunder Bay Chill before falling to Flint City Bucks in the Central Conference Final.

There was a third member of that dynamic group on that run, who scored two goals in the 3-2 extra-time win over the Chill – Lagos Kunga.

Kunga, once a teammate, now awaits Harmon and Enzugusi as a member of Union Omaha, the third-round opponent for the Menace.

“In the most competitive spirit, we’re both winners. Lagos is a winner. At training, Cyrus was saying earlier, if you lose, it doesn’t matter who it is, can be your best friend, you’re pissed,” Enzugusi said. “The same thing is going to happen in the game. We’re going to be trying to show Lagos that we’re better than him, that we deserve that spot.”

There is one crack in Enzugusi’s cool demeanor – the addition of Roger Espinoza, who played over 200 matches for Sporting Kansas City, to the team. Enzugusi found out during the interview that Espinoza would be joining him as a teammate.

“That’s crazy. That’s crazy,” He kept repeating. “I’ll fanboy for the first five minutes [of training], probably. Like ‘yo, what’s up Roger, who’s the best player you’ve played with’, asking him the best player he’s played against. But after that, it’s back to business.”

On Monday, the team assembled for training for the second round. They’ll hope to beat Union Omaha for the first time, after falling to them in Open Cup in 2022. With the match being closer to home, Harmon and Enzugusi expect to see some traveling support.

“I think we’re going to have some of our friends too,” Harmon said. “It’s an extra boost. If you play for 70 or 80 minutes, the fans are always playing for 90, easy.”

While the spotlight may shine on the former professionals joining the Menace, the opportunity exists for players like Enzugusi and Harmon to simply run into the light themselves.

Follow USL League Two

Most Read News

Latest News