Photo by Brian Canniff – UltiPhotos.com
On Saturday, the Philadelphia Spinners will take to the air, and not just when they’re skying defenders.
The New York Rumble’s stadium in Union City is literally on top of a building, and that’s where the Spinners are headed this weekend.
“I’m really intrigued about playing in the stadium in Union City,” coach Billy Maroon said. “I wonder what that’s going to mean for the wind and communication.”
Last week, the Spinners (1-0) faced a hostile crowd in DC in their close victory over the Current, and with the numerous factors surrounding this week’s contest with the Rumble (0-1) – New York’s fans, the stadium location – the Spinners have worked to put special signs into place to assure that everyone is on the same page, regardless of the circumstances.
“We really had a tough time communicating on the sideline in DC,” Maroon said. “We are actually working on hand signals with the players on the field.”
While those variables hang in the air, the Spinners have prepared to meet two familiar faces in the Rumble’s Jake Herman and Aman Nalavade, who each played on the Spinners last season. Both of those players are offensive forces, albeit in difference ways.
“I think you will see players drawing straws or playing ro sham bo on the line to see who gets to guard Herman and Aman,” Maroon said. “We know Herman is a scoring machine in the red zone, and Aman is a great open field cutter.”
Herman was the Spinners’ go-to guy in the red zone in their championship win last season, in which he scored eight goals.
In the preseason matchup between these teams, the Rumble missed Lucas Murphy and Chris Mazur. Maroon expects them to primarily play defense, making the Spinners’ O-line have more pressure on its shoulders.
The Rumble’s Ben Faust and Dan Heijmen serve as the core of NY’s offensive attack. Philadelphia will have its top on-mark defender, Leon Chou, on one of those players. Faust is currently listed as probable with a groin pull.
Spinners’ captain Nick Hirannet doesn’t believe that this matchup will come down to any one matchup.
“I think as a team we need to focus on playing our game,” Hirannet said. “We know we have the talent and fitness to beat any team right now, so if we stick to our game, we’ll continue to put Ws on the board.”
Playing within themselves and their system is something the Spinners have focused on the entire week, after lacking that focus at times against the Current.
“There were points during the DC game where we started to play outside our system,” Maroon said. “If we can stay within our system then we’ll have a shot at winning.”
After an impressive showing against the Whitecaps last weekend, the Rumble proved that the Eastern Conference race will be closer than some expected.
“I think everyone recognizes that the competition around the league is amazing and better than I thought it would be when Jeff Snader announced the new league months ago,” Maroon said.
The Spinners’ response to the MLU’s parity is to forget the big picture.
“I’ve asked them not to think about how great the league the league is this year,” Maroon said. “I’ve asked them not to think about trying to win every game this season.
“Just the next one.”