After the two MLU preseason games, it looked like we might have a couple teams at the top and a couple at the bottom. The New York Rumble got blown out by the Philadelphia Spinners in the preseason, 14-27. The Portland Stags didn’t do much better, only scoring 7 in their 19-7 loss to the Seattle Rainmakers. With Portland playing an away game in San Francisco and New York playing an away game in Boston, it wasn’t unreasonable to expect a couple more lopsided results.
That didn’t end up being the case though, with all four games being closely contested. New York doesn’t have big names on the level of Boston, but they hung with them the entire game, only losing by three. While Jeff Graham scored five goals and Brandon Malecek displayed his usual unafraid temperament with the disc, the Whitecaps were never really able to completely put away the Rumble. If there was ever a moral victory, this was it for the Rumble. They looked lost and outclassed when they played Philadelphia in the preseason. Though there were still a fair number of miscommunications for them this game, they showed they belonged on the field with Boston, who is widely expected to win the Eastern Conference. A 16-19 loss is still a loss in the standings, but there’s a lot they can take away from this game.
The Stags didn’t seem to have an offensive gameplan in their preseason match with the Rainmakers. They relied on their athleticism to complete some deep looks, but they weren’t high percentage throws. In the windy Bay Area, I expected their handlers to struggle even more, and thought they might lose by as many as ten against a Dogfish team that has many Revolver players on the roster. Once again, I came away from the game surprised. Though the Dogfish maintained a small lead throughout the game, the Stags never went away, though they eventually lost 11-14.
The story of these two games might be that their preseason experience gave them an advantage in their first week game. The other teams to play preseason games ended up winning their matches (Philadelphia 18-16, Seattle 14-12). So we might see New York and Portland, two teams without the level of club talent present on most MLU teams, fall back to earth next week. But it might be that Portland and New York will be more competitive than previously thought. New York is hosting Philadelphia next weekend. A win would be big, and vault them into the playoff conversation. A loss would mean an 0-2 start, including a home loss, which could be tough to come back from. The Stags are playing in Seattle next weekend, and they probably aren’t in need of a win as much as New York is. What they do need to show is that they can play with the Rainmakers. Another 12 point loss would show that Portland isn’t a contender. But if they play the Rainmakers close, finish within three or four points, even with an 0-2 record they’ll still be relevant. They won’t have played any home games, and would still have three games against the Nighthawks, with two at home, and two more games against the Dogfish, with both at home.
The Spinners may have stolen a win away from the DC Current on the road, but it was a back and forth game throughout, the Current showed they’re contenders. A home loss against the team they’ll most likely be competing with for the second spot hurts though, remember, this is a short season, only lasting 10 games. But, the Current play the Spinners three more times in that time frame. If they can’t win one of those road games they’ll most likely miss out on the playoffs, assuming Boston is as strong as I think they are.