May 31, 2019
by Matt Rezin
As we head into Week 9, the hype is building around all-star weekend, and the playoff picture is becoming clear in most divisions. The back and forth fan vote for the final all-star spot wrapped up at noon today selected Joc Jimenez based on votes from 7,317 fans on Twitter. With the all-stars for 2019 identified, this week's 'Players to Watch' will highlight other all-star caliber players for each of this weekend's active franchises.
Saturday, June 1
Indianapolis AlleyCats at Madison Radicals - 3:00 PM/ET
- Cameron Brock (IND) — As ever in league and franchise history, Brock leads the way in goals for the AlleyCats with 25 end zone grabs. Every 8 points he's on the field this season, Cam is likely to catch at least one goal. He's a downfield threat that pairs nicely with Rick Gross to keep defenders guessing and open up space for their handlers.
- Andrew Meshnick (MAD) — Defensive stalwart Andrew Meshnick has been a huge part of the Radicals defensive reputation since he joined the starting roster in 2014. Usually chasing the handler around in the Radicals swarming zone defense Meshnick has the size, speed and consistency to be a threat for bookends any time he's on the field.
Pittsburgh Thunderbirds at Detroit Mechanix - 5:45 PM/ET
- Thomas Edmonds (PIT) — The Thunderbirds head to Detroit on a roll, having won 3 straight to draw even on the season. Edmonds has been a big part of those winning efforts. While he's usually the team's lead or secondary handler in 2019, Edmonds has shown he can get downfield and find the disc in the end zone as well. During their last game against Detroit in week 7, Edmonds played a normal load of points and scored 6 goals but wasn't handling in his normal role, with only 26 completions. It will be interesting to see if they use him as a cutter or handler as they face the Mechanix two weeks after a 13 goal win.
- Mark Whitton (DET) — With the Thunderbirds visiting this weekend, the college season is over and Detroit has their most productive players active. Whitton leads the shop in plus/minus with 23 after a blazing start to his AUDL season, but his productivity has been in decline after an impossible to maintain pace that would have had him in the MVP discussion. Hopefully for Whitton things bottomed out against the Radicals in a hard fought week 8 game, and with his fellow franchise stars back at his side they'll make things happen this Saturday.
New York Empire at DC Breeze - 6:00 PM/ET
- Matthew Stevens (NY) — An Empire veteran of 7 seasons and 84 games, Matthew Stevens is the anchor of the Empire offensive line. With more talent than ever around him this season, Stevens has been able to find the end zone and his scoring pace of 5.6 points per goal have him second on the team with 19 goals. That rate approaching his excellent 2014 season when he had 57 goals on 254 points (4.45 ppg).
- Max Cassell (DC) — Third on the team in assists and touches for the Breeze in 2019, Cassell's consistency with the disc has earned him a regular starting spot on the offensive line. In the forceful win over the Royal in week 8 Cassell collected 4 goals and an assist. As the Breeze welcome the Empire to DC without Nathan Prior, Max is going to have a busy day with All-Star captain Rowan McDonnell creating for the Breeze offense.
Montreal Royal at Ottawa Outlaws - 6:00 PM/ET
- Stève Bonneau (MTL) — Ultimate fans know that a great thing about the game is that a goal can't be scored by one person alone, nearly every goal has a corresponding assist. Royal all-star representative Quentin Bonnaud is heading to Madison next weekend to represent the Royal because of his receiving prowess (leading the team with 30 goals, 17 more than the next place), most of the time those goals are thrown by Stève Bonneau. Bonneau is maintaining a 95%+ completion percentage and serving as the team's lead handler.
- Greg Ellis (OTT) — Ellis got off to a nice start this season and has improved his plus/minus every game until their week 8 battle against the New York Empire when he was limited to 5 points played. It seems Ellis is ready to get back on the field this week as he's listed in the active roster. When he's on the field Ellis makes signicant contributions to the Outlaws offense, filling whatever role his coach needs to match the other players on his line. With the unfortunate injury to Derek Alexander, the Outlaws will need Ellis to keep stepping up and putting up big numbers like he did in week 6 against the Breeze when his 2 assists, 7 goals and a block were critical to their double overtime victory.
Chicago Wildfire at Minnesota Wind Chill - 7:00 PM/ET
- Matt Rehder (CHI) — Matt Rehder is a force on the ultimate field, he uses his 6'4", 205 pound frame on both sides of the disc and makes his presence known all over the field. He's first on the Wildfire in goals (15), second in assists (13) and tied for first in blocks (8) though he spends two thirds of his points on the offensive line. After a down week statistically against the AlleyCats in week 8, Rehder will look to put up a more typical performance (3a, 4g, 2b) on the road in Minnesota.
- Mathew Ladyman (MIN) — In his first season in the AUDL, Ladyman is making his presence felt on the Wind Chill's offensive line. In week 5 on the road against Detroit, Ladyman stepped up big for the second game of their road trip and pulled down 7 of the team's 31 goals. Ladyman has yet to make a poor decision with the disc in his hand in an AUDL game and will try to maintain his 100% completion percentage in front of the home crowd at Seafoam Stadium.
Austin Sol at Tampa Bay Cannons - 7:05 PM/ET
- Michael Matthis (ATX) — Matthis has the highest plus/minus (14) on the team among those active for their visits to Tampa Bay and Atlanta. With some of his fellow Sol players unavailable for the trip, Matthis could find himself taking on a larger role in the offense as he usually splits his time pretty evenly between lines. His high completion percentage and ability to cut and disrupt space downfield are going to be important this weekend.
- Bradley Seuntjens (TB) — Leading his team in plus/minus (+26), Seuntjens has broken out this season! Through half as many games his statline this season already resembles the fullseason lines from his prior 3 seasons with the team. At 26 years old Seuntjens is entering his athletic prime and it's showing up in the Cannons box score. In the first game against the Sol this season, Bradley had a big game with 5 goals, 3 assists, and 3 blocks to win in Austin, he'll look to repeat that performance on Saturday night.
San Jose Spiders at Seattle Cascades - 9:30 PM/ET
- Justin Norden (SJ) — Norden has been lending his time to the Spiders' defensive line a lot more regularly this season to lend his throwing prowess to a defensive unit that has seen a lot of flux over the course of the first 8 weeks. Norden leads the Spiders in assists (25) despite this emphasis on defense as he's able to find his player in the end zone wherever they may be on the field with his crafty throws.
- Brad Houser (SEA) — Second on his team in plus/minus based on available statistics (+19 over 5 games), Houser is having the best goal scoring season of his 4 year AUDL career. Through the 5 games represented, Houser has scored at a rate of 5.7 points per goal, a large improvement on his already quality 8.8 career points per goal as a cutter for the Seattle Cascades. Brad's happy to be with Seattle and sees good things in the future for the Cascades.
San Diego Growlers at Los Angeles Aviators - 10:30 PM/ET
- Sean Ham (SD) — Most of the players at the top of plus/minus rankings for the Growlers in 2019 are known for their throwing abilities, Ham sticks out among the group with his 1 assist. That's because Ham is the one downfield catching most of the others' assists and generally creating chaos and downfield space for his fellow cutters. He leads the team in goals by 8 with 28 goals even though he wasn't available for a couple of late April games. After the whole team was off last week they'll look for a big Ham performance as they take on their toughest divisional rival in the Aviators.
- Tyler Bacon (LA) — The coach of the Los Angeles Aviators is having a career season as a player. Bacon has played all over the West division and this season at the helm of his own team and serving as their offensive motor has been his most productive in the AUDL. Through 7 games he's second on the team in assists (22) and third in goals (13) while touching the disc more than any other player on the team. Bacon has been able to expertly incorporate new talents like Joc Jimenez and Danny Landesman into the roster, while keeping the core of his team together and focused on getting back to championship weekend.
Sunday, June 2
Austin Sol at Atlanta Hustle - 1:00 PM/ET
- Andrew Walch (ATX) — Andrew Walch has provided solid handling for the Sol for four seasons. With some Sol players unavailable for the road trip this weekend, Walch will need to take on a larger role in the Sol offense than he's had to thus far in 2019. Watch for Walch in the end zone this weekend during a tough two game road trip!
- Christian Olson (ATL) — Christian is third in plus/minus on the Hustle due to strong defensive play (4 blocks while mostly playing offense) and efficient handling. Christian is part of the Hustle's solid core of handlers, he's tied for second on the team in assists (18) just one behind leader and Hustle all-star Matt Smith.
Montreal Royal at Toronto Rush - 2:00 PM/ET
- Kevin Quinlan (MTL) — While Bonneau and Bonnaud stand out at the top of the Royal box scores, team captain Kevin Quinlan does all of the little things that keep the Royal offense flowing. The Royal have had a really tough slate of opponents in their first five games this season with four away games and a tough home matchup against the DC Breeze. After this weekend's two game road trip the Royal are off for All-Star Weekend then have five straight home games to finish their season. Watch for Quinlan to go big this weekend as the Royal try to make a statement on the road before they regroup for the long homestand.
- Thomson McKnight (TOR) — Since joining the team in 2013, Thomson McKnight has seen heavy usage for the Toronto Rush. In 87 career games he's played 1,787 points and completed 2,945 passes (95.3%) and the Rush still rely heavily on him as their lead handler for the offensive line. He's maintaind higher than 96% completions in the past three seasons and overall this season his 220 touches are 84 more than the next closest Rush player. He's third on the Rush in assists because most of the time he's already put the disc where it needs to be for the subsequent throws. The Rush have 12 players with 5+ assists this season because McKnight spreads it around.