The 2016 MLU Season keeps rolling into Week 4, with 6 of the 8 teams playing this coming weekend.
With the teams of the MLU moving into the middle of their 2016 schedules, the standings have begun to become clear, with the Philadelphia Spinners (4-0) and Portland Stags (4-0) sitting atop their respective conferences. With both winless teams (Vancouver and Washington D.C.) playing doubleheaders, this weekend’s games could be critical for teams looking to make the MLU Postseason.
Hormel Stadium, Medford, Mass. – 7pm ET – TICKETS – WATCH LIVE
Washington has struggled at home this season, losing to each Eastern Conference rival at the usually friendly confines of Cardinal Stadium. Coach Will Smolinski’s staff will be hoping that the change of scenery can give their team a jolt of renewed energy as they try to avoid extending what has already been their worst start to a season in franchise history. Look for the always active Delrico Johnson to lead the team, with support from Mark Flores and Kyle Khalifa, both of whom have seen increased playing time and on-field success over the past few weeks.
Boston opens their home schedule after already playing 3 games on the road. Having defeated the Current in Week 1, the Whitecaps look to keep pace with the Spinners and position themselves for a run to the postseason. Boston should be rested and hungry after a week off, so expect the usual suspects of Christian Foster, Tyler Chan and Ben Katz to have strong games for Coach Sam Rosenthal‘s squad.
Thunderbird Stadium, Vancouver, B.C. – 6pm PT – TICKETS – WATCH LIVE
The Stags hit the road to continue their campaign of dominance through the Western Conference, heading north of the border looking to repeat their 28-12 victory against the Nighthawks in Week 2.
The Stags have been their usual powerhouse in the west through the first few weeks of the season, leading the league in goals scored, blocks and defensive scoring efficiency. The list of the players to watch on Portland is long and established – Cody Bjorklund, Timmy Pertson, Peter Woodside, Raphy Hayes – but one veteran Stag that has been playing at a bit of an uptick: Grant Cole. Cole leads the league in points played.
The Nighthawks, in almost complete contrast to the Stags are still trying to get their footing, still chasing their first win of the season. Going up against Portland is not ideal for a team trying to get one in the wins column, but home-field advantage and a few games under their belts will play in the Nighthawks favor. Fans of the Nighthawks can expect to see production from Erik Hunter, Graeme Barber, Ty Barbieri and Taylor Nadon, who have established themselves as leaders on the field.
Bell Stadium, Orange, N.J. – 4pm ET – TICKETS – WATCH LIVE
A rematch of last weekend’s 21-19 comeback victory for the Rumble, the Current will not have to wait long to get their revenge. Washington will be coming off their Saturday matchup against the Whitecaps.
Washington will face New York on the second leg of their weekend doubleheader, after facing Boston the day before. If the D.C. Current are able to get the best of Boston on Saturday, a win on Sunday would throw them right back into the postseason race. If Washington loses on Saturday, their matchup with the Rumble on Sunday will be even more important, and expect to see the team fight to avoid losing out the first half of the season.
For New York, Coaches Nuñez and Murray will hope that their young team can build off the success they had in D.C. last week. Down 15-11 at the beginning of the 4th quarter, the Rumble were able to mount a truly impressive comeback on the road to tally their first win of the season, and their first game ever in Washington, D.C.. A win this weekend would keep the Rumble in the hunt for the postseason, and be another positive step forward for the new look team. The D.C. coaching staff will need to find a way to contain rookie Sean Mott, fresh off his SportsCenter Top 10 appearance, who torched the 2014 MLU Champions for 5 goals and 2 assists last weekend. Fans of the Rumble can also expect to see veteran Marques Brownlee increase his league leading 12 blocks.
Renton Memorial Stadium, Renton, Wash. – 4pm PT – TICKETS – WATCH LIVE
After their Saturday matchup with the Stags, the Nighthawks will travel south for a rematch of last weekend’s matchup with the Rainmakers.
In the first quarter of last weekend’s Nighthawks vs. Rainmakers game, the two teams appeared relatively evenly matched, entering the break tied at 3. However, starting in the second quarter, the Rainmakers pulled away, looking more like the 2015 Western Conference Champions. To win, the Nighthawks will have to be more effective after forcing a turn, only converting a single break against Seattle last week.
For Seattle, the team has looked more and more like the team that represented the Western Conference in last year’s MLU Championship in the past few weeks, beating the Nighthawks and nearly defeating the Stags in Week 2. With 2014 Breakout Player of the Year Khalif El-Salaam only playing 2 games so far, the Rainmakers have relied on veterans Brad Houser, Evan Klein and Cam Bailey. The Rainmakers will look to get back to .500 this weekend against the Nighthawks and get into the heart of the Western Conference playoff hunt.