New York begins the 2014 MLU season this Saturday when they travel to Boston to take on the Whitecaps at 3 p.m. at Hormel Stadium.
In their disappointing 3-7 inaugural season, the Rumble fell to the Whitecaps in each of their four games opposite the Boston squad. They went 3-3 against the Spinners and Current, but fell just short of making the playoffs last season after losing to the D.C. in the final game of the season.
New York will look to reverse 2013’s fortunes this Saturday against Boston with a revamped roster that includes the return of 2013 Eastern Conference MVP Chris Mazur. Mazur finished second in the league in points last season with 56 (24 goals, 32 assists). He’ll get help this year from new additions to the Rumble roster that include ex-Spinner Sean Murray, two-time college national champion Isaac Saul, and veteran players Jack Marsh, Dave Vuckovich and Kevin Riley.
“Last year we didn’t live up to our team’s own potential,” Mazur said. “With the additions the team made in the offeseason I think we have a team that can do more than just compete with Boston, I think we can win the East. That starts this weekend.”
In Week 1, the Rumble will have their hands full against the defending MLU champion Whitecaps. Boston lost playmakers this offseason, but added new talent, including Jim Foster and Rusty Ingold-Smith, to go along with a roster that is stacked from top to bottom with elite players like 2013 MLU Championship MVP Jeff Graham, Josh Markette and Brandon Malecek. The three combined for 153 total points last year – more than any other top three in the league, despite the loss of their second-leading scorer Peter Prial to D.C.
“We want to prove that we are not just a good roster on paper; our guys can match up with any roster in the league,” Coach Nuñez said. “And we’re ready to prove it on the field against Boston.”
New York will have to make sure to hold onto the disc against the Whitecaps, having averaged a league worst 6.5 drops per game in 2013, almost twice that of Boston. But with another year under their belts, plus sure-handed additions like Saul, Marsh and Vuckovich for Mazur to find downfield, their prospects are looking up.
“Drops are a mental thing. It’s not even a thought in my mind this year,” Nuñez said. “That was last year’s team. I’m a big fan of constant positivity and that’s a negative stat that isn’t helpful. We hope to erase that from our stat books this season.”
The Rumble open their season with two out of their first three games on the road, which will serve as a true test of strength for the young, hungry squad with championship aspirations.
“We are not going to focus on our opponent. We are going to be unified, confident and conditioned. And those things are going to allow us to make a championship run this year,” Nuñez said.