In the last playoff game of the first round, the Los Angeles KISS will host the Cleveland Gladiators inside the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego. The KISS swept the season series 2-0, winning both games by a combined total of seven points. The normal home for LA, the Honda Center is hosting the circus. It’s a little ironic because that’s why Arena Bowl XXVIII was moved when the San Jose SaberCats earned the right to host the Arena Bowl last season after going 17-1 in the regular season and winning two more in the playoffs. San Jose’s only loss was a 48-42 overtime defeat to the KISS.
A casual football fan may not think that LA has accomplished anything after hearing that they are hosting a playoff game in a season where all eight teams are involved in the postseason, but if one looked at the standings, they would see that the KISS finished second in the National Conference. The Arena Football League usually has used an eight team bracket with the top four teams in each conference seeded and playing until there were two conference champions playing each other for the title. The team with the best record would host the Arena Bowl unless a neutral site was already scheduled.
Even if the league went with a six team format, (three teams in each conference) The Arizona Rattlers would have gotten a bye and the KISS would still be in the exact same salutation. So the KISS do have something to brag about as they host their first playoff game in franchise history Sunday. (6 p.m. ET ESPN3) KISS Head Coach Omarr Smith had this to say;
“I’m extremely proud of this team and what they have accomplished so far this year in making the postseason, we look forward to the challenge of facing the Cleveland Gladiators in our first game and we hope all of our fans will join us in San Diego on August 7th.”
The Gladiators are expected to arrive in San Diego this morning. Inside the Arena asked the Glads leading receiver Collin Taylor to break the game down:
“For us to win, we’re going to have to play some of our best football of the season. They’ve beat us twice, and I know they’ve got to be confident playing us again. But this is going to be a different team than they’ve played the first few times.”
Cleveland’s defense has been its strong point for most of the season and with the offense not really rolling until the middle of the season, Taylor knows his side will have to step up especially with LA’s Donovan Morgan possibly playing in his final game:
“Our defense is going to have to stop one of the best wide receivers to ever play the game, in D Mo, and our offense is going to have to have to move the ball on a very tough LA defense. But I’m confident that our team will play well, because we have to. We’re playing for our jobs, and I know we don’t want to be out of work next week.”
Three wins and the city of Cleveland will have its third ring of the summer after going over 50 years without one. The Cleveland Cavaliers and the American Hockey League’s Lake Erie Monsters both won titles this summer and both are owned by Dan Gilbert who also owns the Gladiators. Will he have to make room for some more hardware?