May 20, 2013 by Charlie Eisenhood in Recap with 4 comments
At the midway point of the Major League Ultimate season, it is time to acknowledge a few things. First, Seattle and San Francisco are going to advance to the playoffs out of the West. Second, Boston will take the one seed in the East. And third, the DC Current are done.
Yes, mathematically, the Current still have a shot. Yes, they have three remaining home games. But after their loss to the Rumble this weekend — a game they knew was a must-win — can they recover?
Their offense — the lowest-scoring in the league — has deteriorated since the beginning of the season. But with Alan Kolick steadily running the offense with an outstanding 94% completion rate (Ultiworld’s analysis shows that 90%+ is good; 94% is exemplary), what’s the problem?
They don’t have a receiver capable of taking over a game. The Current have just 3 players with at least 7 goals on the season; the Spinners have 4, the Whitecaps have 4 (one of which is Jeff Graham), and the Rumble have 5. The league’s best have all shown an ability to dominate late in the contest — Graham did it this weekend against the Spinners, the Rumble’s Ben Faust did it last weekend against the Spinners. The Current need to find their star.
Unfortunately, it’s almost certainly too late. At a minimum, they need to beat the Rumble and the Spinners in each of their four upcoming games. They would have to play inspired ultimate over the course of the next month to even have a shot.
The Spinners put up a valiant effort against the Whitecaps in Boston this weekend, but Jeff Graham decided to go off in the second half, putting up 4 goals and 2 assists. That helped Boston outscore Philly 6-2 in the final quarter, pulling away from a 16-16 tie at the end of the third to close out the 22-18 win.
The Spinners fall below .500 for the first time this season and have lost three straight, one to each team in the East. Unfortunately for the Spinners, things won’t get any easier, as they host Boston next weekend before hitting the road to face the Current in a back-to-back. The Spinners may well want to consider resting their starters against the Whitecaps to be fresh for the more important game against DC.
For now, they sit in third place behind the Rumble (2-3) by just one point in the goal differential tiebreaker.
The continued dominance of Seattle and San Francisco continues to be the story in the Western Conference. Seattle easily defeated Portland yet again, and the Dogfish embarrassed the Nighthawks 23-13. Vancouver has the league’s highest-octane offense (103 goals scored) but also one of its worst defenses (111 goals allowed).
The Dogfish, bringing back many of their stars who missed the previous two games, simply outplayed and outran the Nighthawks, rattling off seven breaks in the third quarter alone.
That defensive dominance is aided by the Dogfish’s bench, which has been getting significant playing time. That may well make the difference down the stretch of the season and into the playoffs.
“We can send our second and third lines on the field without any considerable drop off in ability,” Dogfish assistant coach Matt Ruby told a team reporter. “We feel that the bottom half of our roster is probably better than the the bottom half of any other team’s roster.”
The Nighthawks, with the loss, fall to 2-4, two and a half games out of first place. Three of their final four games are at home, but those all come against Seattle and San Francisco. They would need to win at least two out of three to even have a shot at the postseason.