Photo by Pete Guion – UltiPhotos.com
As the D.C. Current enter Week 8, the team faces an uphill climb in order to make their third-straight postseason appearance.
With only four games left in the regular season, the Current (3-3) are tied with the Whitecaps (3-3) for second place in the conference standings. Both of these teams are trailing the conference leading Spinners (5-1) by two games. Every game now has an added significance, with the outcome having postseason implications.
“Our team must embrace and rally behind the underdog mentality that helped energize us last season. We are no longer top dog in the league and we need to play like we have nothing to lose,” said offensive handler Calvin Oung.
This weekend they will travel to face the top dog of this year’s Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia Spinners. In the last matchup between the two teams, Philadelphia came out as the victors and ended D.C.’s nine-game home winning streak.
“[The Spinners] seem to be a very cohesive team right now,” said O-line cutter, Jeff Wodatch. “They have a well-defined playing style and identity and they know what it is. Last year with the Pittsburgh guys, they never seemed to be playing as one team.”
The Current will have the chance to get even with the Spinners, but first the team must understand the mistakes that have led them to this point in the season.
“Our focus has to be sharper,” said Oung. “In our last game against Philly, I think our team was not mentally present. We need to be of the same mind on game day. We also need to remain accountable to ourselves and to our teammates. Our play has been uncharacteristically inconsistent thus far.”
Playing the Spinners this weekend puts the team at a pivotal point in the season. A win would keep them right in the playoff race and close the gap with Philadelphia. However, a loss would set the team back and create uneasiness about their ability to claim a spot in the postseason.
“It’s hard to say that any one game isn’t important. We know the Spinners are executing at a high level right now, playing their game well,” said defensive handler Erik Salmi.
The other team in the battle for the playoffs is the Boston Whitecaps. In the regular season series between Boston and D.C., both teams have won their respective home game. If the trend holds true, the Current will be looking to take down Boston once again for their final home game of the year next weekend. That home game will be the only game in the nation’s capital for the final four weeks of the regular season. All other games will be on the road, which adds pressure with the squad’s road record being 0-2 on the year.
“We need to look inward, trust each other and know we’ve put in the work to be here, and go out and just execute the game plan each week,” said Salmi. “The coaches are putting us in a position to succeed and we know it’s on us to do it. Sometimes that will mean making a big play. Sometimes it means doing all of the little things right that will never show up in a highlight reel.”
Nonetheless, the Current are still in the driver’s seat for the remainder of the season. If they win out, D.C. can clinch a playoff spot and have the possibility of claiming the number one seed and home field advantage for the Eastern Conference Finals.
But before looking at the playoffs, there is the game in Philadelphia on Saturday night.
“This Saturday will be a very physical chess match,” said Oung. “We’ve played Philly the most during our MLU existence so the outcome will lie in the balance between execution and adjustments. Can we adjust to Philly better than they adjust to us? That will be the key to the match.”