By Thomas Livingston | 6/16/14 11:30 AM
Major League Lacrosse announced the Team MLL roster, naming 24 players to compete against Team USA in the MLL All-Star Game on Thursday, June 26, at 7:30 p.m. at Harvard Stadium in Boston, MA. For two of the 24 members of Team MLL the All-Star Game will be the first of possibly three match-ups against Team USA.
Florida Launch Midfielder Kevin Crowley, the 2013 Warrior Player of the Year and Boston Cannons Defenseman Brodie Merrill, a nine-time MLL All-Star, will both suit up in the 2014 FIL World Lacrosse Championships, July 10-19 in Denver, CO for Team Canada.
Anticipating the upcoming games against Team USA in the World Championships, Brodie Merrill sees the All-Star Game as a chance to scout the opposition and also to adjust to the intensity of the international caliber of lacrosse.
“We’ll try to pick up on some subtleties and tendencies. I think there is always an adjustment, at least I’ve found in the previous World Championships, getting acclimated to that level of speed and competitiveness.“
Merrill, adefensive stalwart for the Cannons, has tallied 26 groundballs through Week 6 of the 2014 season. His selection for the 2014 All-Star Game ties the record for most appearances with Matt Striebel.
“You don’t think about [the record] too much in the moment, it will be something I appreciate more when I reflect on my career when it is over,” said Merrill.
Merrill recognizes the spirit of the event as a celebration of the best lacrosse talent in the world. He enjoys playing alongside and learning from some of the other best players in the MLL.
“What I’ve always appreciated about the game is getting to know the guys in the league and kind of seeing what they do in terms of preparation and how they approach the game,” says the Boston Defenseman. He adds, “the event itself is fun to be a part of and Major League Lacrosse does a great job with it, so obviously you appreciate being recognized along with the other great players.”
Those great players include Team Canada teammate and Florida Launch Midfielder Kevin Crowley.
Crowley has six goals and four assists in five games for the Launch, who have enjoyed success in their first season of play as a club. Crowley has embraced the challenges of adjusting to a new team in Florida.
“Playing a different system and getting used to the players on the team; I’ve have to adapt my game. It’s a good squad and a really good locker room,” said Crowley.
The Launch currently hold second place in the MLL standings, one game behind the Denver Outlaws. Crowley is encouraged by the Launch’s early season success.
“Before the season I was optimistic and we are on our way to proving ourselves as being on of the top teams in the league. But it's a long season and we still have a ways to go and things can change, but hopefully not.”
With Crowley leading the Florida midfield, the Launch are in position to compete for the Steinfeld Cup at end of the MLL season.
The reigning Warrior MLL Player of the Year is also excited to face Team USA prior to the World Championships in the MLL All-Star Game.
“You look at their roster and it is a pretty solid squad of defenders, and at every position…It’s going to be a really good battle, “ said the Midfielder.
However, Crowley does not expect Team USA to reveal too many secrets. He plans to treat the All-Star Game as an opportunity to become familiar with USA’s style of play.
“I don’t think Team USA is going to show their hand in an exhibition game,” Crowley added. “Everyone keeps a lot of their plays hidden until the World Games so they don’t give the other team a chance to prepare for it.”
But the Canadian should be aware of any weaknesses that he and Merrill can attack in order to defeat the Red, White and Blue. Team USA has been dominant in International competition, winning nine of the eleven World Championships, a tournament held every four years dating back to 1968.
The two occasions when Team USA had to settle for silver medals, 1978 and 2006, were in losses to rival Team Canada. The Canadians pose the biggest threat to U.S. success in Denver, but playing on their home soil the Americans will be motivated to defend their title from the 2010 Championship in Manchester, England.
The 2014 edition of Team USA, led by Head Coach Richie Meade, are a favorite to win the World Championship and enjoys depth at every position.
Merrill welcomes the All-Star Game match-up and looks forward of facing the Americans.
“Guys like Brendan Mundorf [of the Chesapeake Bayhawks] and Rob Pannell [of the New York Lizards] are elite offensive players and some of the best in the game. It’s always a challenge to play against those players,” said Merrill.
In the All-Star Game, Team MLL will match the intensity and talent-level they face from Team USA.
Midfielder Kevin Crowley can pick apart an opposing defense and has the potential to single-handedly take control of a game for Team MLL. When he has the ball in his stick, Crowley is a must-watch match-up facing a USA squad that features Chesapeake Bayhawks SSDM Matt Abbott and LSM Jesse Bernhardt securing the defensive end.
Crowley does not see any apparent weaknesses among the American defenders when looking over the Team USA Roster.
“I don’t even think I would take their Coaches to the cage to be honest,” he said laughing. “I think Petro’s [Team USA Assistant Coach Dave Pietramala] got some game left in him so I’d avoid him too.”
While fans will not see Coach Pietramala in uniform on June 26 at the All-Star Game, the contest will square off the best lacrosse players in the World against each other. The game also offers an opportunity for many Americans on Team MLL, who were not selected for Team USA, to show that they were mistakenly left of the roster.
Both Crowley and Merrill anticipate this controversy as an intriguing storyline.
“I think [the All-Star Game] is going to be competitive, but it’s going to be more about the American guys who didn’t make the team looking to prove themselves against Team USA,” says Crowley.
Merrill agrees with his fellow Canadian: “I think it may be even more meaningful for the guys that didn’t make the team and got snubbed. It’ s a different feel for sure, for an All-Star game it is very competitive.”
Crowley and Merrill are projected to be leaders of Team Canada, but first they will be among 24 players to challenge Team USA wearing MLL All-Star uniforms.
You can catch Merrill and Crowley as they join the rest of the MLL All-Stars taking on Team USA on Thursday, June 26, at 7:30 p.m. from Historic Harvard Stadium. Click HERE to get your tickets now!