After splitting a pair of games last weekend on the East Coast, the six-time world champion Wave (11-6) returns home to take on the Cedar Rapids Rampage (11-5) at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Sunday afternoon at 2:05 p.m.
"We played a great game against Syracuse the first night," said head coach Giuliano Oliviero. "You could tell the back-to-back nights and travel affected us the second half against Baltimore, but we are satisfied with the 1-1 outcome of last weekend. Now we just look forward to playing Sunday."
Cedar Rapids currently sits in second place in the Major Arena Soccer League’s Central Division, with Milwaukee, which had its seven-game winning streak snapped by Baltimore last weekend, in third. The game has enormously important playoff implications, as just two teams will qualify for the postseason from the Central Division, and the Wave are behind the Rampage and the first-place Kansas City Comets.
This will be the fourth game the teams have faced off this season, with the Rampage winning two of the first three before the Wave won, 14-3, in a home blowout on Jan. 29.
"It’s a big game for both organizations," Oliviero said. "We’ve been having a great week of practice and we’re going to put our best foot forward come Sunday."
Wave midfielder Max Ferdinand, who leads the league in assists with 28, was recently named MASL Player of the Month. For Week 14, goalkeeper Josh Lemos and forward Ian Bennett were both named to the league’s Team of the Week.
"When you have the top goalkeeper, leading scorer and leading assist man in the league you have the recipe for success," Oliviero said. "The atmosphere around the team is outstanding, and we know we can’t take any steps backward. All of our focus is on Cedar Rapids and playing them here on Sunday."
Bennett, a dynamic fan-favorite, leads the league in points (56) and goals scored (46), while Ferdinand is fifth in points with 43. Forward Robert Renaud has 25 points.
The theme on Sunday is "Princess & Superheroes," which includes an on-field parade prior to kickoff. The charity for the game is Food Pantry of Waukesha County.
Including the match against the Rampage, the Wave have just three regular-season games remaining, all of which are at home, and they are in a tightly contested playoff race. Milwaukee needs all the help it can get from a loud home crowd on Sunday, and indoor soccer games, in this writer's opinion, are the best-value, family-friendly entertainment in the city.
Buy Wave tickets at Milwaukeewave.com or at the box office.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.