GUT CHECK NEEDED FOR LA, WHO MUST DIG DEEP TO WIN ANOTHER LEGENDS CUP
(LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA)- Tuesday, JULY 7, 2015)
Winning consistently in any team sport is a difficult task, as many things change from season to season. Injuries, players coming and going, new coaches, and evolving competition are just a few factors that can have an impact on a team’s continued success.
The Los Angeles Temptation’s Legends Cup three-peat from 2010-12 set the standard for excellence in the Legends Football League (something that the Chicago Bliss hopes to match this season), and Los Angeles started this season with hopes of getting back to their winning ways.
Fully expecting to win a fourth Legends Cup Championship, L.A. had many key veterans and their two legendary coaches (Dave “Biz” Bizub and Tui Suiaunoa) returning, and it seemed quite possible. However, after a fast 2-0 start, the Temptation lost two games in a row to their Western Conference rival, the Seattle Mist.
On Saturday, June 6, 2015, the Seattle Mist defeated the L.A. Temptation, 24-23, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Four weeks later, the Mist did it again, back on home turf, defeating the Temptation 24-13 in Seattle.
Going into this Friday’s game, L.A. was still without the best quarterback in the league, Ashely Salerno, but the Temptation lack more than just some personnel – leadership and respect for each other is starting to fall by the wayside.
Los Angeles played well against the Mist on Friday, considering that many players were filling in for key roles, and many rookies had to step up, but the real concern for L.A. and the Temptation Nation was post-game dissension and a meltdown in the L.A. locker room. After the game, there was some finger pointing, and emotions ran high as head coach Tui Suiaunoa addressed the team.
As Monique Gaxiola expressed her thoughts on the game, Suiaunoa made sure his team knew that while he was addressing the team, everyone needed to be listening. This lead to a quick blow-up in the locker-room as emotions got the best of some players.
Suiaunoa was all business when asked about his thoughts on his teams performance and what the team needed to do to get focused and regroup for the remainder of the season.
“We played a good first half and then we just couldn’t execute in the second half,” he said. “When you have to start four rookies on defense who don’t have that much game experience, it’s tough to stop a veteran Mist team.”
Suiaunoa appeared to be optimistic about the team’s short-term future when he said, “We should be at full strength when we play Vegas on July 23 with Ashley Salerno back at quarterback.”
Quarterback and safety Michelle Angel has filled in for Salerno the last two games and proved she is a quality backup with the skills and leadership needed to play the quarterback position in the LFL. Everyone knew she had big shoes to fill, but she did a quality job as L.A. nearly beat Seattle in her first start and Friday’s game was more about their poor defensive play against the Mist’s offense.
“We knew going into the game that they had a solid track record of containing our run game so we added our Power-I formation and ran that successfully,” Angel said. “However, we also knew they would pick up our tight-end releases and force me to throw deep, which proved to work in their favor. I struggled to make the right decisions quick enough, and I feel like it is something I will learn as I gain more experience, but it definitely hindered our offense this game. Frustrations came from multiple people playing new positions on both sides of the ball, as well as rookies who have yet to play a down having to step in on defense into a starting role.”
Angel said that the Temptation was moving forward as one.
“We have already pulled back together and added additional practice times during our off weeks,” she said. “We have a couple people coming back from injury, and it should be back to business as usual in LA. Adversity builds character and we live to play another day. By no means are we down and out. We look forward to playing Seattle in the playoffs.”
Veteran corner-back Ogom Chijindu, one of the vocal leaders on the team, also spoke up after the game.
“I will not make excuses for our performance. Point blank, we did not play well,” she said. “Our team needs to go back to the fundamentals. We have two coaches and two coaches only. They should be the only ones talking and teaching during coaching sessions. As a team, we need to re-group and focus on our own individual responsibilities on the field as athletes if we want to see a playoff run.”
Chijindu added that some of her teammates might need to take a look in the mirror and question their priorities.
“What the fans do not see is the partying, drinking, disrespect and all-out lack of focus by certain players, which is affecting the entire team,” she said. “I have been on this team for five-and-a-half years, a very long time, watching players come and go. We do not have the same personnel as we did in the past, but we still have enough talented players. I know we can win the Legends Cup. Changes need to be made going forward and it will start with discipline.”
With a win against Las Vegas on July 23, L.A. will earn a playoff berth, and then end up waiting to see what Seattle and Vegas do in their final two games, which will determine if L.A. or Seattle is the Western Conference regular season champion. In short, L.A. needs to win and they’re in. If Las Vegas happens to beat L.A., the Temptation still have playoff hopes if Seattle defeats the Sin.
“Our team will bring the Legends Cup back to Los Angeles come August,” Danielle Harvey said. “Don’t believe me? Just watch!”
Last Friday’s game against Seattle will be broadcast a week later in primetime on national television via Fuse (check local listings), this Saturday, Saturday, July 11, 9p / 8c.