Photo by Paul Andris – Ultiphotos.com
The Washington D.C. Current (2-4) are determined to continue their season progression and grow the franchise by the end of the season. They will be challenged by facing the conference leading Philadelphia Spinners (5-1) this upcoming Saturday night.
The team will be making their first trip to Philadelphia on the season. These two teams have only played once this year back in Week 2, where the Current lost 21-18 at home. D.C will be looking to avenge their loss after the Spinners offense rolled to a victory with a 65 percent offensive scoring efficiency.
However this is a completely different D.C team that Philadelphia saw early in the season. The Current are winners of two straight, albeit against one team, and played complete games in both matchups. The team has reeled off their two best defensive performances with six breaks and seven breaks respectfully over the last two games.
If there was a team to test how much the Current has improved on the season, it would be the Spinners who have set the bar in the conference. Philadelphia is only two points away from still having an undefeated season.
“Philadelphia is definitely a great team,” offensive handler Andrew Ferraro said. “We have been improving every game this season. If we continue that improvement through to the end, we have a very good chance of beating the Spinners.”
Throughout the season Philadelphia has been successful with a huge depth chart. Some of the faces of the Philadelphia franchise, Nick Hirannet (two goals, seven assists) and Trey Katzenbach (one goal, one assist) have been relatively quiet. The team’s offense has been mostly reliant on Matt Glazer (18 goals, six assists) and Billy Sickles (11 goals, 13 assists) to not only score but have the disc go through their hands.
The team has the highest offensive scoring efficiency in the east with 67 percent and totaled 130 goals through six games with a +39 point differential (highest in the league).
“They had trouble when their quick handler movements were slowed down. I think you’ll see us make them look to their second and third options when they’re on offense,” Delrico Johnson said. “As far as our O-line, we are going to strive to be consistent throughout the entire game and attack the space that is given to us.”
Being consistent will be key for the Current with the lowest completion percentage in the league of 87.9. Philadelphia’s defense has been swarming against fellow Eastern Conference teams, forcing a turnover 66 percent of the time.
This will especially be an issue heading into the fourth quarter of the game. Throughout the season D.C. has struggled in the final ten minutes of the game, being outscored 36-20. Twice the Current has allowed a team to come back and win after having a lead heading into the period. They almost made it a third time this past week, but narrowly held of the Rumble despite giving up five breaks.
“It’s strange, it’s like we are trying to make every throw perfect and we are over thinking instead of going with the flow,” Johnson said. “In all the games, we have done well up to that point and it’s really just us going out and continuing to follow our game plan.”
Leadership across the Current roster will help with the fourth quarter issues, but this week the team’s leader Lloyd Blake will be questionable to play. Blake separated his shoulder in the Current’s win over the New York Rumble on his non-throwing arm. Blake (seven goals, 21 assists), is the only player in the league to have completed more than 200 passes and has 1.5 touches per offensive possession.
Considering Blake was doubtful earlier in the week, moving to questionable bodes well for his health. Anticipate Blake to play but with a limited role and only if the game is close.
“Losing anybody that plays that role is going to create a vacuum, but our offensive line is versatile, and or offense is fluid,” head coach Will Smolinski said. “[Without Blake] our offense would have to change its priorities and we will need to be more disciplined.”
If Blake were not to play, look for Zach Norrbom (three goals, six assists), Ferraro (seven assists, 95.2 completion percentage) or Erik Salmi (six assists, 87.6 completion percentage) to be the primary handler on offense. Without Blake’s consistency look for the Current to value disc possession more.
All-time the Current lead the head-to-head series 8-5. Philadelphia however has yet to lose at home (2-0). This will be the first of three times that these two teams will play against each other in the remaining four weeks. If the Current were to make the playoffs, it would have to come by beating this Spinners team.
“I have great confidence in this team,” Johnson said. “As far as we’re concerned it’s not about running the table; it’s about going up to Philly and taking care of business and then moving onto the next one.”
The game will be played at Cary Stadium in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. Opening pull is scheduled for 4:00 and will be streamed on MLU Live.