New Jersey Hosts the Wave at Prudential Center in Critical Affair
McNeley and the Ironmen face a must-win situation this Sunday (Photo by Rich Graessle)
Newark, N.J. (Friday, March 20, 2009) – With the season hanging in the balance, the New Jersey Ironmen (7-8) host the first-place Milwaukee Wave (9-6) this Sunday at Prudential Center. Kickoff for this pairing is slated for 1:00 p.m. in Newark, and the implications of the result could dictate how the XSL will shake out this season.
“We have to have the right mentality going into this game,” Ironmen Head Coach Omid Namazi said. “We must be disciplined defensively, and we must play with a lot of energy.”
Depending on the outcome of tonight’s match-up between Milwaukee and the second-place Detroit Ignition (8-7), the Ironmen could find themselves a single game from the top spot of the XSL. A Detroit win coupled with an Ironmen win Sunday would have New Jersey a single game behind the Ignition and a ½ game behind the Wave. A Milwaukee win tonight paired with an Ironmen win on Sunday would place New Jersey 1½ games behind the Wave and even with Detroit.
“We need to take care of the business at hand, and right now, that’s winning at home,” Namazi continued. “If we do that, we will give ourselves a good chance to compete for the championship in the last weekend of the season.”
With four of their last five games at home to close out their sophomore campaign, the Ironmen will have the luxury of playing for a home crowd in some critical contests. Facing such a situation is something that defender Evan McNeley feels will benefit the 2009 championship hopes for New Jersey.
“Knowing the remainder of the season is staring us in the face, all we can do is look forward,” he stated. “Knowing we get to do it at home and sleep in our own beds helps us to focus a lot more. We’re starting to make the right decisions at the right time now, and that is the key.”
While a victory on Sunday would thrust the Ironmen back into contention, a loss would be absolutely detrimental to their championship aspirations. They have the upper hand in terms of scheduling, although, so the path of the season rests in their own hands. In their final five contests, they face Milwaukee three times and the Ignition twice. With only one road match left on the schedule, the XSL championship literally comes through Newark, and it all starts this Sunday.
New Jersey will be wearing special green jerseys in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday, and all jerseys will be branded with the Grassroot Soccer (GRS) logo. All jerseys will be sold through a silent auction during the game, with GRS receiving the proceeds. GRS founder and Survivor-Africa winner Ethan Zohn will be at the game while former Cosmos captain Werner Roth will be the Ironmen honorary captain during the opening kick ceremonies. Tickets for all Ironmen contests can be purchased today by calling 1-800-IRONMEN.