Photo by Sean Carpenter – Ultiphotos.com
The Washington D.C. Current (3-6) entered a doubleheader weekend looking to escape with two victories against the Boston Whitecaps (7-2) and the Philadelphia Spinners (8-1). After a long and trying two days, D.C. went 1-1 despite only scoring 16 points on the weekend.
Due to unforeseen transportation issues, the Current’s match at Boston got cancelled. There were numerous attempts to push back the starting time, including a plan with opening pull going off at 10 p.m. Alas, D.C. just could not make it up to Hormel Stadium and the game was called.
Due to the MLU schedule, a postponement date could not be named before the Eastern Conference Championship Game. As a result the league unprecedentedly awarded both the Whitecaps and the Current a victory in place of the game.
The transportation problems would not be enough to stop the team from making it to Philadelphia for their second scheduled game on the weekend.
With winds consistently at 20 mph, patience was going to be pivotal in determining the winner. With 33 turnovers the Current’s offense struggled to create flow, while Philadelphia’s offense at times looked unstoppable. In the end, the Spinners built a slight lead over the Current and desperation took over forcing lazy throws and resulting in quick breaks for Philadelphia who went on to win at Carey Stadium 24-16.
The score though is not indicative at how close the game was.
Early on, both teams showed that they could challenge each other with the wind benefiting both sides, especially the team going downwind. Philadelphia scored six straight goals to end the first quarter and take a commanding 9-4 lead. Five of those goals were assisted by Nick Hirannet who tied an MLU record for most assists in a quarter.
The run did not deter the Current. Immediately coming out of the second, D.C. scored on offense and followed it up with two breaks, the last one going upwind. A timeout allowed the squad to take a midfield pull with the wind at their backs.
Using a rolling flick pull by Keven Moldenhauer (two assists in the game), the Spinners were trapped in the back of the endzone with the Current’s defense set up. Making an incredible, full extension grab, Andrew Gravunder would snag a callahan, the first on the season for the team. With an offensive score following the point, D.C. had tied the game up at 9-9.
Later in the match, Philadelphia would eventually build their lead back up to five. Long points, with multiple turnovers, would end up favoring the Spinners more than the Current. Stopping the run, D.C. scored back-to-back points in the fourth to pull within three. With the threat of another comeback, the away team was right back in the game.
Unlike the first comeback attempt by D.C., the Spinners offense remained calm and collected. The next possession, Philadelphia moved the disc systematically up the field with no turnovers. In total they used 13 throws over a long span of 55 seconds to record a goal and crush the momentum for the Current.
The home team would close out the game on a 6-1 run and give D.C. their sixth loss on the season and guarantee the team a losing season.
The wind put the Current in tough predicaments all game long. The team’s offense, which was taking their next step in the team’s three year plan, at times looked flustered despite it being Week 10 of the season. The team either had no options or too many options; numerous times there were cases where the team clogged the lane looking to bail out a handler.
The wind did not affect the MVP candidate for the Spinners, Billy Sickles (two goals, one assist) who completed all 19 of his attempted passes. He was one of five Spinners who had a 100 percent completion percentage with a minimum of 10 attempts (D.C. had none).
Usually known for his highlight reel plays, Delrico Johnson had an unusual game for his standards. On the stat line he had four goals, an assist, and a block but there were countless times where he bailed out the team on a lofty throw. With simply the threat of Johnson’s athletic prowess, defenders (and even Current teammates) would fly up hoping to beat him to the disc, but in almost every time Johnson kept his feet on the ground and made the grab.
This loss marks the largest deficit for the team in the past three years. The last time D.C. lost by eight was the 2013 Eastern Conference Championship, against the undefeated Whitecaps. It also ties the team for the fewest points on the season (16).
The win gives Philadelphia the top seed and home field for the Eastern Conference Championship Game for the first time in team history.
Next weekend both of these teams will be back in action against each other. The game will be the final game of the regular season and Fan Appreciation Day for the Current. Opening pull will be on Saturday at 7 p.m. and at Woodrow Wilson High School. Tickets can be purchased here.