June 7, 2013 by Charlie Eisenhood in Preview with 1 comments
Lots of games with playoff implications this week in the AUDL, highlighted by the first matchup between two top Eastern Division teams, the New York Empire and the Philadelphia Phoenix.
Here’s a look at this week’s games.
Philadelphia Phoenix (5-3) @ New York Empire (4-3) [ULTIWORLD LIVE COVERAGE]
In easily the game of the week in the Eastern Division, the Phoenix and Empire face off for the first time this season. The two teams have proven to this point in the season that they are the East’s two best after the Toronto Rush. This game is for bragging rights and second place in the Division.
Both teams have had this game marked on the calendar since early this season. You’ll be able to watch the game LIVE right here on Ultiworld, with coverage beginning Sunday afternoon at 5 PM.
How will the Empire handle Matt Esser? Can the Phoenix slow down Husayn Carnegie? It’s all going to get settled on the field.
This, in some ways, is just the start of the larger battle between the Empire and the Phoenix, who face off three times in the next three weeks. If New York can protect their home turf, they will come away with the season series and very possibly the second seed in the playoffs.
DC Breeze (3-6) @ Philadelphia Phoenix (5-3)
The Breeze are 0-2 against the Phoenix this season, but three weeks ago they nearly took them down in Washington before falling 18-17.
The Breeze, coming off of a rough road loss to the Empire, still have aspirations for the playoffs; a win this week would be a huge step forward.
The Phoenix are looking to extend their half game lead over the Empire in the race for the second spot in the playoffs before facing New York on the road on Sunday.
The Phoenix have to find a way to balance resting legs for their huge game on Sunday with getting the win over the Breeze. DC will be hungry to play spoiler.
New Jersey Hammerheads (1-7) @ Rochester Dragons (4-6)
The season series is all locked up at 1-1 between New Jersey and Rochester, with each team winning their home match. That bodes well for Rochester, who has really played well at home all season. The Hammerheads are in the middle of a brutal seven game skid and it doesn’t look likely they’ll come out of it on the road against two of the toughest home environments in the league.
The Dragons, with a win, can inch closer to .500 and keep themselves right in the thick of the playoff race. After being nearly written off at the beginning of this season after an 0-4 start, they’ve gone 4-2 since, including a win over the Empire.
New Jersey Hammerheads (1-7) @ Toronto Rush (8-0)
In one of the most lopsided matchups so far this season, the Rush face the Hammerheads in Toronto for the second time. In their first meeting up north, the Rush dominated New Jersey 31-18. Expect a similar result this week.
The Rush are halfway towards an undefeated season. They have just two more tough matchups: at home against the Empire in Week 13 and away against the Phoenix in the final week of the season.
Madison Radicals (6-2) @ Minnesota Wind Chill (3-6)
Despite only being halfway through the AUDL season, the Radicals and Wind Chill meet for the fourth and final time this weekend, as the Radicals look to come away with the season sweep.
Every game between these teams has been close, but the Radicals have notched three straight wins against Minnesota (half of their season’s wins!). Unfortunately for Madison, this game means a lot more to the Wind Chill. Madison is almost certainly going to make the playoffs, but Minnesota, sitting in fourth place, needs to keep the wins coming. With only seven games left in their season, they’ll likely need to win four of them — and maybe five — to make the playoffs.
Minnesota has been playing much better Ultimate in recent weeks. They have back to back blowout home wins, bracketing a road loss to…Madison.
A win this week would significantly improve the Wind Chill’s odds of getting to the playoffs; the game should have a postseason atmosphere.
Detroit Mechanix (3-6) @ Windy City Wildfire (8-1)
The Mechanix will travel to Chicago for a very tough Saturday game against the dominant Wildfire. The Wildfire took down Indianapolis last week without league assist leader Brodie Smith and are even bigger favorites against the Mechanix.
AJ Nelson continues to light up the stats sheets for the Wildfire — last week he had seven goals, four assists, and give blocks. No team has found an answer for him down field. How will the Mechanix prepare this week?
Detroit is in a precarious position. They have to face two teams they have never beaten back-to-back on the road. If they come out of the weekend with two losses, their chances of making the playoffs fall precipitously. Watch for an all-out assault against Indy as they try to split the pair.
Detroit Mechanix (3-6) @ Indianapolis Alleycats (4-4)
The Mechanix and Alleycats meet for just the second time this season on Sunday afternoon. In their first meeting, all the way back in week one, the Alleycats went into Detroit and stole the 30-24 victory on the road.
Detroit will be looking to return the favor and snap a five game losing streak that has them teetering on the brink of having no shot at the playoffs.
This is another huge Midwestern matchup. Both teams need a W — the Alleycats are looking to extend or preserve their two game lead over the Wind Chill for the final playoff spot.
Wild card this week: the Alleycats signed 6’2″ Ben Parriss in a first-of-its-kind mid-season roster addition. Parriss had an excellent season last year for the Revolution, with 38 goals and 47 assists. Could this be what takes the Alleycats to the playoffs? And can Parriss help them threaten the Wildfire or Radicals at the top of the Division?
This week should tell us a lot about their new lineups.