It's an oddity listening to Harry Gauss pleading with his team not to look at the standings. Usually it's because his London City Canadian Professional Soccer League squad is at the bottom looking up.
How things change.
Gauss was talking about the game tonight against St. Catharines Roma Wolves at Cove Road field.
"I hate when people look at standings. It's dangerous when you look at the standings, dangerous. This is a league where any team can beat any other team on a given day."
London City is second in the Western Division with 17 points. The Wolves managed to win only their second game of the season this week. Thanks to four ties, they have 10 points.
"That's what makes all these teams dangerous. Players look at stats and that's the biggest mistake players make. Just go out and do the job. We have no problems with top teams because we are up all week. All our problems are created by teams lower than us in the standings because those are the points you must take if you want to be legitimate champions."
It's nice to be the team that has to be wary of overconfidence for a change.
St. Catharines will be missing two players through suspension. Their 4-0 win over Brampton was highlighted by a melee near the end that saw a total of four players ejected.
"I guess the WWF is coming to town," Gauss said.
Gauss is entitled to a laugh.
It's half way through the season. City is undefeated in its last three league games, despite injuries to key players. And they have the league's leading scorer, Paul Munster.
They go into every game believing they can win. That's really believing they can win, not just offering lip service.
"Every game for us is important," Gauss said. "I haven't swayed (from his feelings at the beginning of the year.) We're going for it. No question about it."
There's a long way to go before anyone wins anything, but in years gone by, if London City sustained injuries to major players, it was lights out.
But as testimony to their improved fitness and greater depth, the team has overcome injuries which would have been devastating in other years. Missing for long periods were defender Justin Mederios and midfielder Gentan Dervishi. Both are expected back in a few weeks
Key central defender Marco Peeters underwent surgery yesterday to repair a broken jaw. He's gone for the season.
Midfielder Tonino Commisso is playing with a deep bone bruise.
Gauss listed the injuries, then, thinking he sounded like a whiner, stopped quickly. "But we don't like to talk about injuries. They happen and you deal with them."
His team has dealt with them. They'll have to learn how to deal with more later in the season when it becomes harder to replace key components of a team.
On Aug. 25, City loses 18-year-old Nathan Greene, another central defender. He's heading to England.
Gauss is waiting for the other shoe to drop. That shoe belongs to Munster. His 11 goals lead the scoring race by three. A guy with that kind of ability doesn't come along very often. For years, City has struggled scoring. Now that they have a big finisher, Gauss doesn't know how long he'll be around.
"Paul Munster is 22," Gauss said. "If I were betting, I don't believe he'll be here until the end of the year. Too many people are looking for a goal scorer. Too many people are sniffing around looking for one. If they get desperate, they'll take him."
Now that would be a shame. It would be nice if, at least for one year, Gauss could continue to worry about his team looking at the standings in a good way -- until the end of the schedule.