Photo by Jeff Bell – UltiPhotos.com
Receivers molt into throwers… cross-field throws… outliers… all steak meal… ultimate jet set…
Short Sips of Hot Bitter Blackness. A hint of far-off stone-fruit sweetness. A smoky thickness lingers from the roast.
Since we glossed over it in Disc Don’t Lie, it is now time to return to the bands, ejection and resultant suspensions from last weekend’s game between the Current and the Spinners.
The part everyone has seen is here, but the prelude to this is as least as important:
At 4-2 when Tom Doi scored the fifth D.C. goal.
At 19-18 when Nick Purifico got entangled with Peter Prial on a *great* transition deep cut from Purifico (and a very savvy poach block from Prial).
At 23-23 when Jonathan Neeley scored to put D.C. up 24-23 and received a band for tossing the disc at an opponent after scoring.
In the first instance (Doi & Purifico), Purifico should have been banded. This is precisely the sort of play that the league and their on-field representatives (the refs) have determined to be band-worthy in previous weeks. To not award a band here is to set a dangerous precedent for the remainder of the game. At 9:57 Doi has made the catch on a disc coming in from his right. Purifico begins to make his bid *on Doi’s left*. The disc was never going to be there. This is a late bid and must be made cleanly or not at all. That doesn’t take into account the way which Purifico responds to Doi’s indignation at being taken down. As for the ref dispensing a forearm shiver to Purifico? Well, I wouldn’t call that standard operating procedure and am not surprised that Purifico bristled at it and responded in kind. Regardless of the show of concern for Doi, Purifico needs to be banded here. Contrition is not sufficient grounds to avoid a band for dangerous play.
In the second, this is a mostly clean play as Purifico and Prial get tangled in the air after they are both coming in from different angles. It is legitimately more difficult to accurately judge your opponent when you haven’t been running together down the field in pursuit of a disc. That said, this is a foul on Purifico. Prial had the inside position, and the angle at which Purifico launched himself precluded making a play on the disc absent significant contact with Prial. By 53:37, we can see that Purifico is underneath Prial after Prial has made the catch. Makes sense, as Purifico’s line of attack was angled toward the sideline while Prial’s was nearly parallel with the sideline. Purifico jumps from the inside of the 10-yard marker and lands outside of the 10-yard marker and five yards upfield. Prial takes off from the outer half of the 10-yard marker and lands five yards upfield and a couple of yards closer to the sideline. The angle of pursuit for Purifico combined with the inside track of Prial prevented a clean play in this situation. Purifico made the bid anyway. This is a foul. If he was not banded before and was instead given a warning, he should definitely be banded now.
In the third, Neeley gets unluckily contacted from infront of him while an otherwise clean bid is made by the trailing defender, which causes a table-top-type situation. Neeley has been seeing his teammates get contacted multiple times after the catch and responds in a wholly inappropriate (yet contextually comprehensible) way and deserves the band he receives.
Now, back to the Jeff Wodatch spike on Purifico. Wodatch (as he has stated) acted inappropriately. But Purifico did too, and the league has clearly stated that you simply cannot throw the disc at your opponents (at least, not while they aren’t actually playing defense). Wodatch earned his band, and Purifico earned his ejection. The real question here is why did the refs fail to control the game early enough that this was avoided?
The most dangerous situation in ultimate is as a receiver transitions from a receiver to a thrower. In these situations, the receiver is decelerating, changing direction, pivoting and many other types of motions which place rotational stress on the lower body. When a player has launched his body into the air and then adds linear momentum to a limb already stressed by torque, the recipe is quite dangerous. This is one of the key reasons that late tackles in soccer, slides into second base in baseball and chop blocks in football are all tightly regulated. They should be just as tightly controlled (if not more) in ultimate.
While these plays specifically are after a receiver catches a goal or a block, the danger is not ameliorated, it is only lessened. While a player who catches a goal (or a block in the end zone) is not likely to become a thrower, the goal has been scored and players, for better or worse, let down their guard at this moment, leaving themselves open to injury.
None of the players highlighted here were on their best behavior. However, the situation was exacerbated by the failure of the refs to control the tone of this game in the early going.
Tastes good so far. Future health consequences are sticky.
Teddy Browar-Jarus Crossfield Assists[iframe width=”628″ height=”360″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/ARGD2dkriPw” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen]
Of these three, the last one is my nominee for throw of the week and possibly my favorite over the season as a whole. As Browar-Jarus catches the disc, he has eye contact with his receivers downfield, and the second has a couple of steps to the breakside. As Brian Zid, the receiver, turns his head away from the thrower for a moment, Browar-Jarus releases the perfect throw out to the far side of the field. Browar-Jarus is always looking to break your mark, folks. And if he’s going toward the end zone to the right of the stands in Medford, the break is likely to be of the crossfield variety.
Ah, the core of the non-veganoid breakfast. Boiled. Scrambled. Poached. Fried. Loco Moco’d.
Six teams in the MLU…
…average between 221 and 241 throws per game. There are two outliers: The Spinners at 285 and the D.C.. Current at 209.
…average between 10 and 11 blocks per game. There are two outliers: Portland at 12 and D.C. at just over 12.
…concede between 18 and 20 points per game. There are two outliers: Portland at 15 and Vancouver at 22.
…average between 2.4 and 3.5 drops per game. There are two outliers: New York and San Francisco average over five drops per game.
…score 19-21 goals per game. There are two outliers: New York at 15.43 goals per game and San Francisco at 14.86 goals per game.
Stake with your eggs?
Nothing more important than the return visit the Whitecaps are paying to Washington, D.C. this weekend. And yet… Philadelphia has a chance to come back from their overtime loss and retain their overall lead (or lose to the Rumble and in so doing fall back to the peloton in the East). And yet… we have a likely Western Conference Finals preview in Portland. And yet… we have a game between the Nighthawks and Dogfish to determine which team will be alive for the playoffs after this weekend.
Waffles or Pancakes?
Choose… but choose wisely.
Boston 22 @ D.C. 24
This is a game pitting two teams who have taken divergent paths to this point in the season. They are currently tied at 4-3 after D.C. started 2-0 and Boston started 0-2. Both were victims of a two-game road trip in which they dropped both games. Both have championship experience and both believe they will make the playoffs. This should be a tight game throughout, but the home team tends to come out ahead in tight games and my expectation is that this game will be an offensive-focused game on the whole as each team has shown improved offensive play over the course of the season.
Vancouver 21 @ San Francisco 18
I can’t, in good conscience, pick the Nighthawks to go winless through the rest of the season. The Dogfish have found a better rhythm on offense as the season has gone along, but their defensive game still seems haphazard. With both teams fighting to find the playoffs against the odds, I expect the experience of the Nighthawks in last season’s end-of-season-scramble to payoff in this game.
Seattle 21 @ Portland 25
Seattle’s much-improved offense takes their game to visit Portland this weekend. I expect that while the Rainmakers will score at a good rate, they will provide more opportunities for Portland breaks than the Stags will offer Seattle. Past that, Portland has provided clear and consistent evidence that their offensive line is prepared to play defense after a turn. Seattle’s ability to do so has been intermittent.
Philadelphia 22 @ New York 20
If New York can keep their offense rolling, this will be close and the Rumble will prove that their dismantling at the hands of the Spinners a few weeks back was not indicative of the relative strength of these teams. If New York does not keep their offense going, this has the makings of another blowout. Either way, the Rumble do not appear consistent enough to truly challenge the Spinners.
Beverage of Choice
Players or matchups to watch.
All of D.C. versus Boston.
This is the most compelling matchup on a weekend full of good games. With these two, there are no truly weak links on their offensive or defensive sides, and while there are many standout players, each team has sufficient personnel and tactics to match wits with the other. Specific things to keep an eye on: D.C.’s give-go pull plays, Boston’s one-cutter ISO pull plays. D.C.’s defensive speed vs. Tyler Chan. Quick offensive scores after long offensive scores. Sideline roller pulls. All in all, this should be like a heavyweight bout crossed with a chess match. So… chess boxing.
All of Seattle versus Portland
This is the second-most compelling matchup on the weekend as the two most likely Western Conference finalists meet before the playoffs begin. Will Portland’s offense keep on clicking? Will Peter Woodside be enough to drop the hammer on Seattle? Will Khalif El-Salaam and Mark Burton provide enough downfield options for Seattle’s offense? Will Cody Bjorklund or Timmy Perston rack up the meaningful plays for Portland’s offense or will Seattle concoct something to tamp down their influence? Could Portland conceivably hold back in their gameplan to save more for the postseason?
The Place to Be
This will be a whirlwind of a weekend for me. I’ll be at the game here in D.C. doing color work with Geoff Poster on the play-by-play, and then the very next day I’ll be in Portland for a potential playoff matchup with the Rainmakers! I could be more excited about this, but then I suspect my head would go full-Scanners. And I don’t want to ask anyone to clean up bits of my brain like Vincent leaning up after Marvin in Pulp Fiction. Anyway, the point is I’m quite keen to see Portland and Seattle play in-person. There is so much to see this weekend!