Photo by Scobel Wiggins – UltiPhotos.com
19 – 18
This game was bookended by execution errors from the D.C. offense. Perhaps is was the lack of Alan Kolick, or perhaps it was the pressure from the Spinners. Then again, execution errors have been emblematic of the Current and have been a prime contributor to their fall from the highs of 2014 and early 2015.
Regardless of their defense’s ability to disrupt the opposition’s offense (they lead the league in blocks with 12.83 per game), their own offensive play has been marginal at best:
Fewest completions per game (180.50), fewest throws per game (204.33), second lowest completion percentage (88.34), fewest throws per possession (4.697), tied with Vancouver for most offensive fouls per game (2).
Over the past couple of seasons, the D.C. offense has been characterized by both a high completion percentage (2013: 92.94%, 2014: 91.28%) and a large number of throws (2013: 249.30 Th/G, 2014: 238.40 Th/G) while this season has been equivalent to a boring “based on true events” movie: Thin on development and rather inaccurate.
In this past weekend’s manifestation of the Current’s ongoing slog, they were broken on the first point of the game, but broke twice on their way to a 9-8 halftime lead. They had the disc with under 50 seconds left in both the first and second quarter, but failed to score either time. They were broken twice to start the second half, but scored the next two sparked by Delrico Johnson’s Callahan.
Finally, D.C. had a chance with 24 seconds remaining on the clock to push the game into overtime and potentially pull out another miraculous D.C. home victory, but instead threw a turnover which the Spinners elected to delay picking up in order to run out the clock.
There are very few moments in which the Current are controlling the game’s tenor and pace. Instead, it is a constant flurry of offensive errors which marginalize the team’s ability to play strong defense. Defense might win championships, but without sufficient offensive stability to put points on the board, a strong defense will never make it to the playoffs.
This was the first loss that D.C. suffered in the comfy confines of Cardinal Stadium. While, in truth, it was the Spinners who did the work to win the game, the failure of the Current to complete passes and convert breaks is the story of the first half of the season.
The second half of the season will be all about what the Spinners do to hold on to first place while Boston and D.C. jockey for second.
26 – 18
The Seattle offense is far healthier with Khalif El-Salaam on the field. He gives them downfield options they previously had to manufacture via offensive structure rather than through individual talent and in so doing makes their attack more robust and dynamic. El-Salaam gives the team a definitive primary downfield threat, and opens up the rest of the field for his teammates while frequently drawing a top defender.
The Seattle defense is rounding into shape as well. In this game, their ability to play a softer man defense against the Nighthawks while mixing in some alternate looks gummed up the largely linear offense of Vancouver. The Nighthawks offense was certainly lessened by the lack of Kirk Savage behind the disc, though the results also show how Seattle, despite generating the fewest blocks per game (9.20), score the second-most breaks per game (7.60).
Here we are, just past the midpoint of the season, and the Rainmakers above .500 after starting the season 0-2. Their matchup this weekend with the Stags is rightly getting the spotlight treatment as the only game in the Western Conference. With a victory, the Rainmakers would lay legitimate claim to the top spot in the table.
14 – 12
This game was 1-0 after the first quarter and 5-5 after the first half.
Both teams were playing quite sloppily in the wind. New York dropped their second pull of the season. Even Jeff Graham dropped a disc. But what happened just after Graham dropped the disc? Albert Alarcon turfed an open backhand for a goal. This game, on the whole, was about three things: The wind, New York leaving opportunities on the field and Boston winning the tough points.
The first seems like it would be difficult to show, but fortunately we have this:
Even the best receivers are subject to the whims of the disc in flight.
The second is even easier: A seemingly open flick.
Either this open flick was thrown too hard and high to be caught by the close player, or it was a huck and the New York receiver in front of the thrower thought he was on defense. Oh… this was just after that Celebrated Hopping Disc of Queens County eluded Graham.
The third is the easiest yet. The start of the ugliest sequence in the game: Stall. Turf. Completion. Handblock. Turf/Handblock. Uncatchable huck. Uncatchable huck. Block on the reset. Completion. Awkward Whitecaps goal. Boston won the ugliest two points in the game: The one you just witnessed and the first point of the game which lasted 5:53. Oh, and Boston prevented New York from scoring the second point of the game, which lasted 4:07.
New York had a possession late in this game to pull within one with just over a minute remaining, and failed. Of course the two-point difference was due to an accumulation of events over the game, but looking back at the hardest-to-win points is a good start.
Boston escaped Queens confident that they can win ugly. New York stumbled away certain that there will be more chances to win ugly as the wind of St. John’s seems set as a staple of Belson Stadium.
17 – 18
Another sloppy game. While this one wasn’t as heavily influenced by the wind, both teams struggled with reset offense throughout. There were passes thrown to where the reset was a moment ago, drops, layout blocks and more. It seemed that, on the whole, the Dogfish were a little more undisciplined in their reset play even though the Stags came up short in this game.
The margin of one point in this game could be easily attributed to two simple goals thrown by Gabe Saunkeah, who had a heckuva game for the Dogfish. The first is when the Dogfish elect to pull from midfield. This is a good Dogfish pull, but a worse setup from the Stags. The thrower wants to throw to the nearest player, but the receiver’s head is turned downfield before he plants and makes a short in-cut. From that point forward, the thrower remains pinned in by three defenders and two teammates within seven yards until a high stall hammer fails to escape the end zone. The second was when Portland went full Chris Webber after this throwaway and called a timeout which they no longer possessed at the end of the first half.
Two simple mental errors. Remove either of the resulting zero-yard Saunkeah assists and the game could well have been swung Portland’s way. Then again, to remain perfect you need more than talent, you need luck. This is the end of the dream of challenging the 2013 Whitecaps in the record book and the beginning of the real work of recovering from a loss in time to fend off the hard-charging Rainmakers.
Seven On & On Anon…
1. The Difference Between a Completed Pass and a Perfect Pass
Michael Hennessy gets the upline pass, but the flick is low and awkward such that Hennessy cannot survey the field appropriately. Then, Hennessy tosses another subpar throw wide to Ben Faust before continuing on a shallow upline cut.
Faust, even after gaining control of the disc, tarries too long in bouncing the disc back to Hennessy. We can even see Hennessy wondering why he does not have the disc back in his hands. There is a chance that Faust was purposefully delaying this throw in an attempt to alter the timing of the offense, but more likely he was focused on something that was not open (Which he would have been able to read easily if the pass was delivered to his chest), or he was having difficulty finding the handle on the disc.
The latter seems unlikely as he has a grip on the disc in his left hand. The eventual continuation was delivered to Hennessy’s back hip, which causes Hennessy to twist his vision away from the field. In so doing, he loses precious fractions of a second before putting up an incomplete huck to Robbie Gillies, which would have been much better if thrown a bit earlier.
2. The Callahan Rule Is Aces
Catching a pass thrown by your opponent in the end zone you’re attacking is a rare event of domination. It is appropriate to be rewarded with more than a mere point and then a chance at a break. In MLU play, with the effect of getting pulled to after catching a Callahan, one defensive play can give your team a chance to essentially break twice with only one defensive play. It shifts the whole tenor of the game. While this past weekend both teams who caught Callahans went on to lose, the momentum shift at the moment of each score (and ensuing offensive goal) was palpable.
3. You Already Knew That Though
Teddy Browar-Jarus gets a nice not-a-block here. And the cardinal rule of ultimate defense is invoked by all those who have played: Catch. Your. Blocks.
4. Bands for Egregious Bids
This past weekend saw focused work from the refs to protect the health of the players on the field. On three separate occasions, a defense player earned a band for a dangerous defensive play:
These plays are the type of play which lead to significant injury, and it is in the best interests of the league, the players and the fans for these types of plays to be tightly regulated. None of these plays or players are dirty in the sense that they are trying to injure their opponent or intentionally violate the rules, but the results of these small-margin choices can easily put a player out for the game or longer.
5. A Reset Block is the Best Block…
Andrew Hooker layout dump D. This play was exactly what the Dogfish needed to get back into the game and representative of the sort of shoddy reset work both teams were putting in on offense.
6. …Unless it is a Block Which Prevents a Goal
On the ISO set in the end zone the thrower, Henry Phan, loses focus and forgets to keep the poach defenders and/or his teammates in mind. In so doing, he provides the opening for Brendan Wong to poach off of his player and get the block. Oh, and on the first point of the second quarter, Wong gets a fantastic chasedown block on a Rainmakers fastbreak. This is the sort of two-way that makes the sport worth watching!
7. Markian Kuzmowycz vs. Ryan Richardson
This downfield matchup is full of aggression, speed, power and physicality. Kuzmowycz is a very fast cutter who not only uses quickness to create separation, but also uses strength to create separation through contact. Richardson, in the first game I’ve seen him play in person, stepped up and took on this critical assignment. It wasn’t so much that Kuzmowycz was a non-factor, but more that Richardson was up to the task of challenging him for every step on the field.
Midfield Heave as Time Expires
The Spinners (7.267) are the only team averaging over seven throws per possession.