MLU Week 5 Preview: Current, Rumble Set To Battle To Keep Playoff Hopes Alive

The New York Rumble's Chris Mazur makes the grab against the Philadelphia Spinners.
Photo by Sean Carpenter — UltiPhotos.com

At the midway point of the Major League Ultimate season, you might expect the game of the week to be a duel between two of the league’s top teams. In fact, the game to watch will be between the DC Current and the New York Rumble, the bottom teams in the Eastern Conference.

Why? Both teams know that a loss almost certainly seals their fate — a slow trudge to the end of the regular season with no playoffs in sight.

Here’s a look at this week’s matchups.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Vancouver Nighthawks (2-3) @ San Francisco Dogfish (3-1)

The Nighthawks fly down to San Francisco to face a fresh and fully loaded Dogfish team coming off of their first loss of the season. That’s bad news for the struggling Vancouver squad, as San Francisco will be looking to come out strong to rebound after their disappointing showing last weekend.

The Nighthawks, even in a loss, should be focusing on putting together a complete game, something they’ve failed to do against the top two teams in the Conference this season. They have showed they can play great for 20 minutes, but have yet to put up a consistent game across all 40. Defense has been their achilles heel.

Beau Kittredge, Mac Taylor, and Ashlin Joye all rejoin the Dogfish this week, adding depth and firepower to an already stacked roster that managed a win against Seattle without them.

A win would be outstanding for the Nighthawks, but they should be satisfied with a good game and better consistency as they prepare for some critical games at home over the coming weeks.

Seattle Rainmakers (3-1) @ Portland Stags (1-4)

Seattle simply has Portland’s number. They easily defeated the Stags in their first matchup this season, and dominated them even more in their preseason matchup. This is a game that Seattle should and will win.

That said, Portland has found a star in Timmy Perston, who leads the league in goals and put on a clinic last week against the Dogfish. You can be sure Rainmakers coach Ben Wiggins has given a lot of thought to shutting down Perston, potentially by limiting huck opportunities through double teams and poaches or by finding the right match up for him.

The Stags are also playing for their playoff lives right now, which will give them some additional urgency in this game.

Unfortunately for Portland, Seattle just knows this team too well. The Rainmakers won’t take the game lightly, and they’ll come out on top.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Philadelphia Spinners (2-2) @ Boston Whitecaps (4-0)

This is the first game of a home-and-home series between Philly and Boston over the next two weeks. The two teams come into it with very different goals in mind.

The Whitecaps, the only remaining undefeated team and the newly crowned #1 team in the Ultiworld Power Rankings, look to continue to hone their team chemistry as they already begin thinking about the playoffs. The Spinners, however, are fighting just to earn a spot in the playoffs.

The Spinners dropped a game last week to the Rumble, an ugly affair with a lot of turnovers and less-than-impressive defense from Philadelphia. The Spinners get their premier defender, Sean Murray, back for this matchup — he will likely be tasked with trying to slow down Jeff Graham, who has been an offensive juggernaut for the Whitecaps.

Not only did he make the #1 play on SportsCenter this week, Graham tallied four goals and two assists, bringing his season totals to 15 and 7. He is one of just four players in the MLU with more than 20 combined scores and assists.

Teams know he’s coming, they just can’t stop him. He’s the definition of a superstar. But Sean Murray will get a shot.

If Philadelphia can force Boston to make plays with their weaker players, they’ll have a chance in this game, especially at home. But Philly has to reduce their turnovers, which Boston excels at capitalizing on.

DC Current (1-3) @ New York Rumble (1-3)

This is the first matchup of the season between the Current and the Rumble, and it couldn’t come at a more exciting time. Both teams know the importance of this game — the loser falls to three games below .500 with only five games remaining. The chances of making the playoffs will be slim. The winner is likely to find themselves tied for second place in the East with the Spinners, should they lose to the Whitecaps. This is one of the biggest stakes games of the season thus far.

We know what to expect. Ben Faust and Chris Mazur — two of the four 20+ point earners in the league — running the show for the Rumble, and Alan Kolick and Markham Shofner leading the way for the Current.

This game will likely come down to defense, as both teams bring an athletic style to the game. Expect fireworks and heavy referee involvement. The season is on the line.

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