Photo by Sandy Canetti – Ultiphotos.com
The 2016 MLU Season enters Week 5, with a lite schedule of just 3 games this coming weekend.
Whether you come out and join the crowd or watch comfortably from you home online, this weekend will be full of ultimate action!
Bell Stadium, Orange, N.J. – 4pm ET – TICKETS – WATCH LIVE
Coming off the bye week, the Eastern Conference leading Spinners head north to take on the Rumble for the third and final time this season. The Spinners have won both of the previous games, 22-12 and 25-10.
Philadelphia, a roster boasting a good mix of veterans and rookies, has been impressive this season, boasting the conference’s best average goal differential, scoring 21.5 goals while allowing just 14 per game. Rookie Head Coach Darryl Stanley has lead the Spinners to the best start in franchise history, partially by understanding and using the depth of his roster. While veteran Spinners, such as Matt Glazer, Michael Panna and Himalaya Mehta have done the most damage, the team has seen early contributions from rookies Greg Martin, Ethan Peck and Mike Arcata. The Spinners look likely to continue their run to the postseason, but don’t count out the Rumble just yet.
While it may not be reflected in the standings, the young Rumble has shown flashes of some serious potential over the first half of their 2016 season. Coaches Eileen Murray and Anthony Nuñez have begun to build a core of players to develop around in New York, headlined by veterans Marques Brownlee, Scott Xu and Quinn Hunziker, and aided by rookies Sean Mott and Mason Compton. In order to compete, the Rumble will need to avoid letting themselves fall behind early, which they have struggled with this season.
Yellowjacket Stadium, Berkeley, Calif. – 3pm PT – TICKETS – WATCH LIVE
The other undefeated team is also on the road this weekend as the Portland Stags head to the Bay Area to play the San Francisco Dogfish in a rematch of their game from a few weeks ago. That game, which ended 18-12 in favor of the Stags, was the first of three matchups between these two teams this season.
Portland, as has been the case for the past several years, has been dominant in the Western Conference this season. With a potent offense and a stingy defense, the Stags have been able to prevent all rivals from getting the upper hand. The usual suspects for the Stags – Cody Bjorklund, Raphy Hayes, Timmy Perston – have lead the way, aided by impressive rookie showings from Duncan McNally, Sam Franer and Trevor Smith. The depth on this team is impressive, and they clearly have aspirations of becoming the first team from the west to win the MLU Championship.
The Dogfish, having just played two games, are still a bit of a mystery. After easily dispatching the Vancouver Nighthawks in Week 1, they fell to the Stags in Week 3. While San Francisco was able to hang with the Stags in the first and final quarters of their matchup, they very much showed the inexperience of their rookie-heavy roster in the middle periods. More practice time together, home-field advantage, as well as the return of several missing players makes this a new game, and puts the Dogfish in position to play the spoiler to the Stags perfect season for the second year in a row. Look for veterans Gabe Saunkeah, Thomas Pineda and James Sheridan, as well as rookies Daniel Naruo, Nate Young and Alex Cloud to make their marks on the game.
Thunderbird Stadium, Vancouver, B.C. – 6pm PT – TICKETS – WATCH LIVE
The Rainmakers will head north this weekend to take on the Nighthawks for the second time in just 6 days, having defeated the Vancouver squad 28-18 on Sunday. While Vancouver looks to tally their first win of the season, Seattle is trying to get over .500 for the first time this year after two early losses.
Seattle, the reigning Western Conference Champions are finally starting to look like the team that upset the Stags in the playoffs last year. Lead in scoring by 2015 Western Conference Rookie of the Year, Evan Klein, and supported by strong showings from veterans Brad Houser, Cam Bailey and Matt Neeley. The Rainmakers under Co-Head Coaches Fiona McKibben and Kate Kingery are getting their team together at the mid-point and will look get their third straight win and continue their push to get back to the postseason.
Vancouver, a team that is still trying to find its identity, will look to continue to develop chemistry this weekend, still looking for that elusive first win. Lead by veterans Erik Hunter, Taylor Nadon and Nathan Lam, the Nighthawks have seen flashes from rookies Mitchell Dozzi-Daigle, Graeme Barber and Einer Lim. Something for fans to keep an eye on is the recent transition for Head Coach Patrick Gatien to the role of player-coach, throwing on the jersey and getting on the field.