Photo by Sean Carpenter – UltiPhotos.com
D.C.’s 2014 campaign kicked off in Philadelphia, and 11 weeks later the Current’s regular season will come to a close with another match against the Spinners.
While the Current’s spot in the playoffs has been cemented for weeks now, Philadelphia is still clawing to get into the postseason and can earn their ticket to Cardinal Stadium with a home win on Saturday.
The Current (8-1) have already done all of the necessary work to claim the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings and secure home field advantage in the playoffs. But there is still one game left for D.C. to play and it carries several postseason implications with it.
If Philadelphia (4-5) is able to beat the Current for the first time in three tries this season then they will get to travel to D.C. on June 28th to compete for the Eastern Conference Championship. But if the Current complete the season sweep against the Spinners, and the Boston Whitecaps are able to beat the Rumble in New York, then the reigning MLU champions will qualify for the playoffs.
While speculating about who D.C. would rather play in the knockout round is fun for fans, Current coaches and players wouldn’t take the bait, saying they are solely focused on themselves.
“My approach this season from the beginning has been, ‘It’s all about us,'” said Current Head Coach Keven Moldenhauer. “If we take care of who we are and we do what we’re trying to do, win or lose I’m fine with the result. So who we play doesn’t really matter. It’s two great matchups either way.”
“Boston in my mind has more of the players that have been in these scenarios before, but you can look at Philadelphia and see they are surging. They brought on the young Pittsburgh talent and they’ve had several big wins; that’s kind of a scary team. The team that is hot is always a scary team to play.”
D.C. will get another up close look at an improved Spinners squad that has won three of their last four outings. Over that span the only team to beat the Spinners were the Current who topped Philadelphia 22-16 on May 31.
But the Spinners aren’t expected to be at full strength this weekend after successive hard-fought matches. Patrick Diviney, tied for second on the squad in goals with 16, is questionable with an ankle sprain, while the Spinners’ main handler and their team leader in assists Nick Hirannet is probable after suffering a hand injury early in Philadelphia’s Week 10 game. One of the team’s most versatile threats, Jake Rainwater, is also listed as inactive.
“They definitely have an edge to them that they didn’t when we played them before,” said Current Assistant Coach Will Smolinski. “The Pittsburgh guys seem to be more comfortable after watching last week’s game with Boston, and actually the injury to Hirannet could be good for them, in that it makes it harder for us to prepare for them because we don’t know what to expect.”
While D.C.’s defense can’t be certain who will be on the field for the Spinners on Saturday, Philadelphia should expect another outstanding effort from the Current’s defensive line. They have been the driving force behind the team’s great season, as they have continually been able to convert turnovers into break points.
“One thing we do is feed off each other. So when one person on the D-line plays well, we all end up playing better,” said defender David Boylan-Kolchin. “When we get a series of those plays we just keep getting better and better. That’s how we are able to run-off four- or six-straight points in a row.”
If the Current are able to score another long string of break points against Philadelphia they will most likely end their season like they started it, with a win at Franklin Field.
Watch the Current and the Spinners face-off in the regular season finale starting at 7:30 p.m. on MLU Live.