Photo by Pete Guion – Ultiphotos.com
The Rumble kick off their season against the Philadelphia Spinners this Saturday, 4pm at Bell Stadium in Orange, N.J.
The Spinners emerged last season as a team on the rise, losing in the Eastern Conference finals to the Boston Whitecaps 21 -16. By comparison, the Rumble have ended their past two seasons in last place of the Eastern Conference.
The Spinners will have to be on their toes, though, as these are not necessarily the Rumble they may be used to seeing. During the offseason, New York has revamped its roster with a whopping 20 rookies, drawing many from the New Jersey area.
The team is expected to be fast and eager to renew their image. In a recent interview with Head Coach Eileen Murray, she said, ‘[…] there will be no shortage of amazing athleticism, so expect some great highlight reels from us this season.’ New York and Philadelphia matched up three times in 2015 with the Spinners winning the series two games to one.
But the tides could easily change as the Rumble are going to be a very different team this year. Some of the obvious changes to their roster include the loss of Chris Mazur, the team’s leading scorer, and the loss of Joe Anderson, the team’s emotional leader. It is unclear who will take on these important roles but what is certain is that the Rumble will need to find their rhythm quickly to stay in the game this weekend.
In addition to the many new players joining the team this year, Quinn Hunziker will be returning to the field after sitting out the previous season from an injury in 2014. Prior to his injury Hunziker averaged 1.5 blocks per game and was a huge defensive force all around. The duo of Hunziker and Jibran Meiser are sure to be a defensive powerhouse this year.
Marques Brownlee is the other monster defender on this team but, rumor has it, he may be taking on an offensive role this season. Although this new position would give him less opportunity for bookends (he is tied for second for most career bookends behind Spinner Matt Esser), the switch from defense to offense will ramp up Brownlee’s goals and assists and give his many fans a chance to love and appreciate him in a new role.
The switch falls in line with Coach Murray and Coach Anthony Nuñez’s philosophy not to split their coaching duties based on offensive and defensive concentrations. With so much new talent and so many new players, the coaches may be waiting for the opening game to see who fits into offensive and defensive roles before committing players to any one line.
There is a lot of potential for growth and this ‘take it as it comes’ attitude may serve them well. Still, the Rumble will have to keep their turnovers down – last year they averaged 28 per game – and to turn up the heat on their endzone defense – last year the Rumble allowed 210 goals, the only team in the league to allow more than 200. The Spinners also undergone some changes on the field heading into 2016, as they will be without Jake Rainwater and Marshall Ward this season.
The big question is: can players like Philly’s Billy Sickles make up for this deficit? The Rumble should expect the Spinners to come out strong as three of their players are within striking distance of major career milestones.
With the Spinners coming to town, one this is for sure. This is going to be an exciting game and a great way to start the season.
Come out and see the Rumble in action at their Season Opener against the Philadelphia Spinners at Bell Stadium in Orange, N.J. on April 9th at 4pm.
Grab your 2016 New York Rumble Season Tickets, here.
-Corinne Bennett, Reporting