Photo by Sean Carpenter – UltiPhotos.com
Eliminated from playoff contention two weeks ago, the New York Rumble head into their season finale eager to play the spoiler role.
With the Rumble (2-7) guaranteed last place in the East no matter what happens Saturday against the Boston Whitecaps (4-5), all they have left to play for is ending their season on a high note with a home win against their northeastern rivals.
For that reason, Rumble Head Coach Anthony Nuñez said he expects his team to end the season with a victory.
“I am hoping to see a team that is willing to work hard and fight for a win,” Nuñez said. “We have had a lot of injuries this year, and I want to show the home crowd that we have a good base for a great season next year.”
Both the Rumble and the Whitecaps will come into Saturday’s clash without much momentum. After a strong 2-2 start to the season, including a 18-17 win over Boston in the two teams’ only meeting this year in New York, the Rumble dropped their next five, quickly knocking themselves out of the playoff race. Perhaps the lowest point of the team’s season was a sloppy, dreary affair in Boston in May, during which a severely undermanned Rumble squad mustered an MLU record low of only six goals in the Whitecaps’ 22-6 landslide win.
However, following a valiant performance in a loss at D.C. last week, the Rumble are hoping that a strong end to the season could be a sign of things to come.
“It was a rough season if you go by wins and losses, but I like what I saw from our young guys and I know that our veterans are talented and strong players,” Nuñez added. “I learned a lot about the pro game this year and expect that the team will be even stronger because of this season.”
Meanwhile, the defending champion Whitecaps limp into the final week perilously close to elimination. Despite having one of the strongest rosters in the league, highlighted by standouts Danny Clark, Jeff Graham and Josh Markette, the Whitecaps have struggled to put wins on the board, especially on the road. Though many expected a regress from the Caps’ amazing 2013 run, few expected that Boston, just one year removed from its undefeated season, would be below .500 with one game left to play.
With the Philadelphia Spinners owning the head-to-head tiebreaker for the second and final playoff spot in the East, the Whitecaps will need a victory and a Spinners loss to the first place D.C. Current on Sunday, just for a shot at defending their title in the postseason.
Still, even though the Whitecaps have their share of difficulties this season, Nuñez cautioned against underestimating them.
“We expect them to come out pumped and wanting to make the playoffs,” he said.
“The thing about the Whitecaps is that they are a strong team with great leadership. Their mental game could help carry them to the playoffs.”
Of course, denying the Caps that precious playoff spot is exactly what the Rumble have in mind.
Tickets to the Rumble season finale on Saturday at 3 p.m. are on sale at the Rumble TicketLeap page.