Thursday Thoughts: Week 7

May 11, 2017 — By Evan Lepler

1. The Game of the Week between Dallas and Raleigh this Saturday night will feature the most star talent in a regular season game.

To get right to the point, the Dallas Roughnecks (6-0) and Raleigh Flyers (5-1) are loaded. Among the 40 players who could take the field in Raleigh on Saturday, nearly half of them have experience representing the United States in the World Championships, Beach World Championships, U-23 World Championships, or Junior Worlds.

The game will include three consecutive Callahan Award winners—Dylan Freechild (2013), Jimmy Mickle (2014), and Jonathan Nethercutt (2015)—and a bevy of other standouts who have established themselves as excellent pros. Dallas’ Jay Froude, Jimmy Mickle, and Dalton Smith were teammates with Raleigh’s Justin Allen and Matt Bode on the 2013 U-23 USA Open roster, while Abe Coffin, Stanley Peterson, and Smith again joined forces with Tim McAllister and Hunter Taylor on the U-23 squad in 2015. Obviously, Mickle and Freechild were selected to be a part of the ultra-elite World Games roster, while Raleigh’s Nethercutt, Jonathan Helton, and Brett Matzuka are headed to France next month for the 2017 Beach World Championships. And aside from all the names mentioned already, there are a slew of accomplished vets—Brandon Malacek, Dave Snoke, and Ben Dieter, for example—and a ridiculous crop of young up and comers—I guarantee you’d happily take Kai Marshall, Jacob Fairfax, or Nate Goff on your team for the next 10 years.

Suffice to say, you should join us at 7:00 PM/ET on Saturday evening for Roughnecks and the Flyers on AUDL.TV/Live, who currently are two of the top three teams in the AUDL’s Power Rankings. It has all the makings of a potential classic.

2. 2017 might be the year of the Breeze in the East Division.

The schedule makers did the DC Breeze (3-1) a huge favor. It’s probably just a luck of the draw type thing, but DC, who has three regular season games against both Toronto Rush (3-2) and New York Empire (2-2), will have the fortune of hosting four of those six games. Already having beaten the Rush and the Empire once apiece at home, DC travels to Toronto this weekend and visits New York on May 27. After that, though, the Breeze’s only remaining road games will be at the Montreal Royal (2-2), Ottawa Outlaws (1-2), and Philadelphia Phoenix (0-3), while they get to host both the Empire and Rush on consecutive weekends in June. Considering that everyone in the East besides the Breeze already has multiple losses, it certainly puts DC in the driver’s seat to secure homefield advantage in the playoffs. With Alan Kolick and Tyler Monroe both looking like All-AUDL centerpieces and Chuck Cantone, Lloyd Blake, and Rowan McDonnell playing like stars in utility roles, the Breeze have given plenty of reason to believe that the talent lost from last year won’t be the cause of their downfall.

Game highlights from the Breeze's 22-21 win on May 6.

If the Breeze can knock off Toronto on the road this Saturday, they will seize a commanding spot in the East. Even if they cannot squeak past the Rush, who are returning home with some momentum after winning a pair on the road last week, the Breeze will still be in an enviable position in potential five-way tie (in the loss column) in their increasingly competitive division.

3. We all knew that the Nashville Nightwatch would be the AUDL franchise that would make ultimate highlights go viral this week, right?

It’s been a pretty fun week to follow ultimate in social media. If you’re reading this, presumably you are already sold on our sport being amazing in ways that are both obvious and existential. But you must remember that the vast majority of people in the world still probably have no idea that professional ultimate is a thing.

A former member of the Cincinnati Revolution, Nashville's Colin Grandon went viral this week with his full speed layout goal.

Hence, when Colin Grandon and Danny On of the Nashville NightWatch (0-6) make plays that are shared on Twitter by SportsCenter (32.1 million followers), Sports Illustrated (1.6 million followers), The Guardian Sport (732.4 thousand followers, as well as The Guardian's main website), USA Today’s “For The Win” (83.6 thousand followers), and several other non-ultimate media outlets, it introduces the jaw-dropping athleticism to thousands, if not millions, of new eyeballs. Obviously, over time, this exposure helps immensely in bringing more interest and excitement to our growing game.