For a second straight season, the D.C. Current will begin their season against the Philadelphia Spinners. While the Spinners took the home opener in 2013, on Saturday D.C. enters the stadium with one of the strongest all-around teams in the league.
The D.C. Current enter the season with incredibly high expectations, and after getting a taste of the playoffs last year the team will settle for nothing short of a title in 2014. The Current’s quest for the crown begins with a first pull at 7:30 p.m. inside of Philadelphia’s historic Franklin Field.
“I’m really excited just to be able to play in front of the fans and and be out there under the lights,” said Cody Johnston, who will be suiting up to play in his first ever MLU game. “There’s been a lot more hype this year than last year and it’s been really cool to see it all come together.”
Last year Philadelphia won just three games. But the Spinners earned two of those victories against the Current, toppling D.C. in both the opening and final weeks of the season.
D.C. would split the season series with Philadelphia, claiming wins in Week 3 and Week 6. All four of last season’s match-ups were close with D.C.’s Week 6 18-14 win providing the largest margin of victory in the series. In total D.C. outscored Philadelphia 70-66 in 2013.
The Current and Spinners will face off for another four match-ups in 2014, with D.C. looking to grab control of the series.
“We played them a bunch. They have some very solid handlers, and guys we know well. But they know us well too,” said captain and offensive handler Sean Keegan. “I think we’re going to try and limit what they like to do. Try to push some of their main handlers up the field and kind of keep it out of their hands so they can’t dictate the offense as much as they’d like.”
The Current return 18 players from last year’s roster with nearly all of their main offensive contributors back in the fold. Alan Kolick ,who finished second in the league with 34 assists while completing an incredible 95% of his passes, and Markham Shofner, who tallied 33 assists last year, will continue to direct the Current’s offense. D.C.’s handlers will continue to have Jeff Wodatch, 30 goals, Calvin Oung, 43 points, and Keegan, 39 points, working hard to get open downfield.
D.C. has been working all offseason on a new offensive system that should allow the team to be more explosive. The Current will unveil the new offense against the Spinners and hope that it leads to productive results.
“The design of it is to get players out into space where they have lots of room to work against their defenders,” said Peter Prial, who was acquired from league champion Boston Whitecaps during the offseason. “I think it will do a good job of showcasing our skills, especially on offense where we have a lot of talented handlers and cutters.”
Prial, who led the MLU in goals scored last year, will add another weapon for Head Coach Keven Moldenhauer to utilize. Moldenhauer is excited about his team’s potential this year.
“I actually don’t think there is a need to get off to a fast start, I think the most important thing is that we’re implementing all the things that we’ve been working on in practice,” said Moldenhauer. “Obviously we want to win and we expect to win but I’d be happier with playing very well and doing the things we’ve been practicing and losing, rather than coming up with a terrible win.”
One of the biggest key’s for the Current on Saturday will be forcing the Spinners into turnovers on offense and then capitalizing on those mistakes. D.C. wants to make life as difficult as possible for the Spinners main cogs Nick Hirannet, Matt Esser and Jake Rainwater.
“I know our D-line is going to get D’s,” said Wodatch. “We need to convert them into goals and we need our O-line to run our new offense well to have success.”
The season finally starts on Saturday evening, the time for build up and anticipation is over and the time for action is now. The Current have been picked as one of the league favorites by a lot of different parties. Now it is time for D.C. to show what they have, and prove that the faith put into them was warranted.