Photo by Brandon Wu – UltiPhotos.com
The math for the D.C. Current is simple. Win this weekend and the defending MLU Champions’ playoff aspiration are still alive, but if the Current fail to top the Spinners in Philadelphia this Saturday their quest to capture a repeat title will be over.
The D.C. Current have just two games remaining on their regular season schedule and if they want to extend their 2015 campaign any further they will have to win both.
“The playoffs have already started for us,” said Defensive Head Coach Will Smolinski.
To make the postseason for a third consecutive year, the Current (4-4) will need to win against the Spinners (5-3) this weekend and then take down the New York Rumble in Week 11. But those wins alone most likely won’t be enough for D.C. to qualify for the playoffs; they will need some help as well.
If D.C. wins twice, the Spinners beat Boston (5-3) in their final game of the season and the Whitecaps take down New York this weekend, all three squads will finish with the same 6-4 record. But because of how the regular season matchups played out this season, the deciding tiebreaker would be goal differential where the Current trail both Boston (+18) and Philadelphia (+16) by a wide margin.
However, before tiebreaker situations come in to play, the Current need to take care of the business in front of them and win against the Spinners. D.C. has already defeated Philadelphia twice this season, once at home and once on the road, but the Spinners were able to score a big win in D.C. just two weeks ago.
“If you look at the wins, we were able to convert our break opportunities all while running a smooth offense and limiting mistakes,” said defender Delrico Johnson. “When we lost focus of our goals, that’s when you saw both the O-line and D-line struggle. But If we stick to our game plan then we should be able to put ourselves in a decent position to win against any team in the league.”
D.C. has proven in 2015 that they can beat each of their Eastern Conference brethren, but unlike last season the rest of the division has shown that they can top the Current as well. Last year over the 12 games D.C. played, five were decided by three points or less. However this year in just eight games played, six have finished within that three point margin.
“It definitely has not been easy,” said Head Coach Keven Moldenhauer. “Last year if we had a close game, we would pull away. This year we have allowed teams to stick around and it has resulted in several close losses. No worries though, that will all be forgotten when we are playing August 8 [in the MLU title game.]”
To get to where they want to to go though, D.C. will have to slow down a Spinners attack that has scored the most points in the Eastern Conference, paced by Rookie of the Year contender Billy Sickles (12 goals, 26 assists), Matt Glazer (25 goals, 9 assists) and Jake Rainwater (19 goals, 15 assists.)
“The last game against Philadelphia we put them under the most pressure they had seen all season,” said Smolinski. “We had 10+ almost D’s that got us two critical drops in overtime. This week it will be key to not let them get off high stall count resets and maintaining our defensive presence deep.”
Along with containing the Spinners attack, D.C. wants to display their own offensive abilities that have been hit or miss so far this season. After topping the 20-point plateau nine times during their 2014 campaign, the Current have scored 20 or more points just twice this season. But Moldenhauer said that he believes his offense is rounding into form at the right time this season.
“Offensively we are playing much better in terms of running the offense,” said Moldenhauer. “We need to limit the poor decisions more than anything. But this is why you play sports. You play to compete on the highest level with the most pressure. All we need to do is execute the game plan and after that, may the best team win.”