January 20, 2020
By Adam Ruffner
The offseason is really hitting its stride, with teams completing tryouts and roster announcements in full swing. We're still just over two months away from the start of the 2020 regular season in April, but there's definitely a buzz going around the league already.
- Captain Announcemments
- Hustle leadership
The Atlanta Hustle have named a squad of team leaders for 2020 in Matt Smith, Kelvin Williams, Austin Taylor, and Javier Ortiz. The Hustle finished 5-7 last year, failing to make the playoffs for the third straight season.
Smith and Williams have been with the Hustle since day one, and are the franchise leaders in goals and blocks, respectively. Smith enters 2020 with the third most goals (266) all-time in league history, and has never scored fewer than 30 goals in a season during his five-year career in Atlanta. Wiliams has led the team in blocks each of the last four seasons, and was the Hustle's Integrity Award nominee in 2019.
A focal point of the Hustle offense since joining the team in 2016, Taylor has amassed 80 assists, 39 goals, and 966 completions (95.00 percent rate) in 44 career regular season games.
Ortiz is a defender entering his sixth professional season in the AUDL, and second in Atlanta. He played five games for the Hustle in 2019 before getting sidelined with an injury.
- San Diego Selects Tran And Radlauer As 2020 Captains
Coming off the best season in franchise history, the San Diego Growlers have selected a pair of homegrown players—Michael Tran and Scott Radlauer—to represent the team. The Growlers won their first West Division title in 2019, and made their first appearance at Championship Weekend before begin eliminated by Dallas in the semifinals.
Tran has been one of the most reliable handlers in the division the past two seasons, completing over 900 throws and helping guide one of the best scoring units in the AUDL. He's particularly effective in the redzone, and despite his primary role as a thrower, moves extremely well in space, collecting 41 goals in 2018 and 2019 combined, including the playoffs.
Radlauer has emerged as one of the top shutdown defenders in the league since joining the Growlers in 2018. He was voted "Best Cutter Defender" in the West in 2019, and finished ninth in the AUDL with 18 blocks.
- Matis And Vohnoutka Return As Minnesota CaptainsFor the second straight season, Bryan Vohnoutka and Brandon Matis will assume captainship duties for the Minnesota Wind Chill. The Wind Chill have been one of the most active teams this offseason, adding Matt Rehder and Mark Lloyd to an already talented roster, and will enter the 2020 season with a lot of expectations despite failing to reach the postseason last year.
The team's lone All-Star selection in 2019, Vohnoutka has been one of the best downfield scoring threats in the division the past two seasons. He has back-to-back seasons of 30+ assists and 30+ goals, and his 42 goals last year tied him for 10th in the AUDL.
The franchise leader in games played and the sole Wind Chil player to play every season since the team's inaugural season in 2013, Matis has led a Minnesota defense that routinely is among the league's best in takeaways. He has 50 assists, 78 goals, and 66 blocks in 84 career games.
- Hustle leadership
- Roster Movement
- Martin Re-Signs WIth Philly
A defender his first two seasons in the league, Greg Martin was primarily used in an receiving role last season for the Philadelphia Phoenix offense and excelled. He racked up 20 goals in just six games, limited by injury. A full season could make Martin a 40-goal scorer alongside teammate Himalaya Mehta.
- Braun, Bloodgood, Maxstadt Re-Sign With DC
The DC Breeze continue their tear of re-signings, adding Garrett Braun, Xavier Maxstadt, and David Bloodgood among a host of other signings. DC has made the playoffs in each of the past four seasons, but will be joining the newly formed Atlantic Division in 2020.
A member of the All-AUDL Rookie second team, Braun excelled as an uptempo passer-receiver hybrid in the Breeze offense. His contibuted 33 scores to a DC offense that finished third overall in scoring efficiency in 2019; Braun completed 158 passes at a 95.20 rate as a rookie.
Maxstadt is returning for his third season with the Breeze. A big throw handler who often leads the team's counterattack from the D-line, Maxstadt has 39 assists and over 360 completions combined in his first two seasons in DC.
Bloodgood missed the entire 2018 season with an injury, but when healthy, has been one of the team's top defenders. A defender with a high field IQ and quick decision making, Bloodgood has excelled at jumping throwing lanes and initiating the counterattack immediately; he has 31 assists and 27 blocks in 24 career regular season games for the Breeze.
- Brock, Plew, Carpenter Return For Ninth Season
The Indianapolis AlleyCats are coming off a historic season for their franchise, and are continuing to build around the pillar of players that have been there from the beginning. League legends Cameron Brock, Keenan Plew, and Travis Carpenter—three of the AUDL's "Original Six"—are coming back, while All-Star receiver Rick Gross returns for his eighth season with the 'Cats.
Brock is the league's all-time leading goal scorer, having secured his 500th goal during the 2019 season, and holding a ridiculous 200+ goal advantage over second place all-time, which is held by his teammate Plew. Brock scored the fewest goals (38) in his professional career last year, but set a career high in completion percentage while failing to commit a drop in 11 regular season appearances.
Plew is the league's all-time leader in assists (358) and total scores (644), and second all-time in completions (3584). 2019 was also a down year for Plew in terms of raw scoring numbers, but the veteran passer still complmeted 464 throws at a career-high 97.70 percent rate for a semifinalist; he has over 1750 completions the past three regular seasons alone.
Carpenter had his best season as a pro in 2019, finishing on the All-AUDL FIrst Team and as an MVP finalist. He led Indy in assists, completions, and points played, doing a little bit of everything when the team called upon him in crucial situations.
Gross scored his fewest goals since 2016 last year, but still finished eighth in the AUDL with 46, to give a sense of the kind of streak he's been on the last three seasons. The 25-year-old already has 249 career goals, putting him seventh all-time.
- Growlers Re-Sign Dunn And Goose, Add All-Star El-Salaam
The Growlers also re-signed two of the best offensive weapons in the West in All-AUDL First Teamer Travis Dunn and Jonathan Helton. They also went out and got an All-Star in free agency with the signing of Khalif El-Salaam for 2020.
Dunn is coming off back-to-back first team selections from 2018 and 2019, and has led the Growlers in assists in each of the past two seasons. He has four consecutive 30+ goal seasons, and over 1000 career completions in five seasons with San Diego.
Helton is one of the all-time greats to have played in the AUDL, and the two-time MVP had one of his best seasons in his nine-year career with the Growlers in 2019. The 35-year-old finished second on the team in assists and fourth in goals while playing the most points since 2015.
El-Salaam has been one of the best all-around contributors in the West in his two seasons of play with Seattle. He was particularly effective in his last matchup against the Growlers, having the best individual performance of his career with six assists and seven goals on 41-of-43 throws.
- Madison Veterans Return
After announcing Colin Camp and Kevin Pettit-Scantling as captains, the Madison Radicals have re-signed team vets Kevin Brown, Joshua Wilson, Andrew Meshnick, Thomas Coolidge. With the exception of Camp—who is the franchise leader in goals—the returners have all been with the team since the Radicals founding in 2013.
Despite the Radicals poor performances last year, they still led the league in points allowed and team defensive efficiency. And with the return of longtime defensive stalwarts Pettit-Scantling, Wilson, Meshnick, and Coolidge, Madison figures to once again have one of the top defensive rotations in 2020.
- Edmonds Re-Signs With Thunderbirds
Thomas Edmonds now joins Max Sheppard as the only committed members so far to the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds 2020 roster. I mentioned it on Twitter, but Edmonds had one of the most impressive offensive seasons in the league last year. He was one of just seven players in the league to have 40+ assists and 500+ completions, and of that group, the only one to score 30+ goals.
- Martin Re-Signs WIth Philly
- Diversity Initiative
In an effort to raise racial awareness and increase accessibility of the sport in local communities, the AUDL is launching a diversity initiative. The AUDL has started by becoming a major sponsor for the Color of Ultimate showcase game that took place this past weekend—the league will continue to make announcements in the coming weeks about further efforts.
- First Toss Of 2020
You know we're getting closer to the opening pull when the first new Tuesday Toss of the year drops. This one is particularly worth your time, as it covers the moves of two AUDL legends in Mark Lloyd and Kurt Gibson.
- First Look At Boston