April 29, 2021
By Adam Ruffner
After a nearly 700 day absence, pro ultimate's weekly showcase game is back with the AUDL Game of the Week! The New York Empire are still the reigning league champions, but a few contenders like Chicago, San Diego, and Dallas have made major signings to upgrade their rosters over the extended offseason.
Here is a rundown of every "Game of the Week" matchup from the 2021 regular season. All times are in EST. Available every week on FS2.
Week 1: Indianapolis at Chicago
June 5, 7:00 PM
The newly supercharged Chicago Union get an immediate test on opening weekend against the reigning division champion Indianapolis AlleyCats. The two teams split their season series in 2019, with each team winning their home game; Indy held on for a 24-21 barnburner in their last matchup, securing the divisional title in the process. The Union added former ‘Cats offensive standout Keegan North—along with a host of other stars poached from divisional rivals—with their eyes set on qualifying for Championship Weekend for the first time since 2013.
Week 2: DC at Raleigh
June 12, 6:00 PM
The two previous matchups between the DC Breeze and Raleigh Flyers were two of the most entertaining, high-scoring matchups in "Game of the Week" history; Raleigh pulled out a gutsy, come-from-behind win in 2017 in overtime; Rowan McDonnell cemented his MVP campaign in 2018 with a 10-goal performance against the Flyers in primetime. Now suddenly playoff rivals thanks to the new 2021 divisional reformatting, these two offensive juggernauts will be competing directly for a spot in the postseason in the Atlantic.
Week 3: Boston at Raleigh
June 19, 6:00 PM
Despite coming from one of ultimate’s winningest hotbeds, the expansion Boston Glory enter 2021 as a true enigma in the professional landscape. The Flyers have the kind of offensive firepower, defensive coverage, and regular season track record—Raleigh has three straight seasons with 10+ wins, and four in their last five years—that could overwhelm a first-year team like the Glory. On the other hand: Boston might have the depth, strategy, and defensive intensity to pull off the big early season upset on the road.
Week 4: Dallas at San Diego
June 26, 8:00 PM
The Dallas Roughnecks may have won the only meeting between these two franchises at 2019 Championship Weekend, but with the ‘Necks move from the South to the West Division, they enter the domain of the reigning divisional champion San Diego Growlers. Dallas once again signed a raft of stars in the offseason to bolster both their offensive and defensive lineups, but so did San Diego, each team adding championship-caliber pieces. The tenacious Dallas defense finished 2019 ranked number one in takeaways—Kai Marshall alone had a career-best five in the semifinals win—but the Growlers’ high-scoring offense, led by Travis Dunn, can’t be held in check forever.
Week 5: Madison at Indianapolis
July 3, 7:00 PM
Indianapolis inverted the divisional hierarchy in 2019, winning in Madison for the first time ever in seven seasons of interdivisional play between the two franchises. The loss didn’t just propel Indy up to the top of the Central Division standings, but discarded the Madison Radicals’ league record of six consecutive Championship Weekend appearances; Madison missed the playoffs entirely. Now the Radicals are out for revenge, and looking to establish their old winning ways against an AlleyCats team unaccustomed to having a target on their backs.
Week 6: DC at Atlanta
July 10, 7:00 PM
Two of the challengers vying for the four playoff spots in the Atlantic Division, the winner of this matchup may determine the fate of both franchises in 2021. The DC Breeze have made the playoffs in four straight seasons, roster an MVP, and have one of the brightest young cores in the league. But the Atlanta Hustle made some major upgrades this winter, including adding all-star Antoine Davis, and are looking like a possible dark horse contender for a Championship Weekend spot.
Week 7: Dallas at San Jose
July 17, 9:30 PM
The only franchise to own two AUDL titles, the San Jose Spiders have just one playoff appearance since 2015. But a reinvigorated roster led by ironman and three-time AUDL champion Marcelo Sanchez is poised for a return to form. If the Dallas defense can’t slow down a Spiders attack that quietly ranked fifth in scoring in 2019, San Jose could get the offensive showcase they want; the Spiders have scored 30+ goals four times in “Game of the Week” matchups in franchise history.
Week 8: San Diego at Austin
July 24, 8:00 PM
A first-ever matchup between San Diego and the Austin Sol, this could be a midseason trap game for the away team. The Growlers play Dallas the night prior, and in the past four seasons, only one road team has ever come away from the Texas road trip with a 2-0 record. San Diego could have an ace in the hole for this situation: The last time Goose Helton played a back-to-back in Texas in 2018, he registered 21 scores (assists plus goals) in two games while playing on a broken toe.
Week 9: Indianapolis at Minnesota
July 31, 7:00 PM
After years of being bounced from playoff contention by the Minnesota Wind Chill, the AlleyCats have held sway the past two seasons in this matchup. But Minnesota has upgraded a defense that was already third in takeaways, giving them one of the most formidable coverage rotations in the division, if not the AUDL. In 2019, Indy was 7-2 in games decided by three goals or fewer, including 2-0 versus Minnesota. That might mean a regression towards the norm in close games for the reigning divisional champs.
Week 10: Raleigh at New York
August 7, 7:00 PM
The 2019 regular season matchup between the two title favorites met and exceeded expectations, with the New York Empire staying undefeated thanks to star player heroics in sudden death double overtime. Reigning MVP Ben Jagt had a showcase performance, throwing nine assists and scoring six goals against the Flyers top-six defense. This time, the fireworks should be no different between two of the most talented and highlight-friendly rosters in the league.
Week 11: Pittsburgh at New York
August 14, 7:00 PM
The Pittsburgh Thunderbirds were the surprise playoff team of the 2019 season, riding a historic offensive burst from Max Sheppard all the way to the divisional championship game. Sheppard finished second in the MVP voting to New York’s Jagt, and it’s been Shep’s mission ever since to prove why he deserved the award then, as well as now. Pittsburgh will be in the thick of a wild Atlantic playoff race, which means you can never count against Sheppard going supernova in primetime, as he did in the 2019 All-Star Game.
Week 12: Raleigh at DC
August 21, 6:00 PM
One of those tantalizing final weekend regular season matchups that could have a butterfly effect in every direction. Everything from last second playoff spots to the MVP to home field advantage for the playoffs (including Championship Weekend seeding!) could fall out from this one game. Henry Fisher had 22 goals in four “Game of the Week” appearances during his rookie season in 2019, and could be the difference maker for Raleigh.
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