June 20, 2019
By Adam Ruffner
Parenthetical numbers indicate team's ranking in previous list.
21. Detroit Mechanix (21)
Last in scoring offense and third to last in scoring defense, Detroit has been plucky but still woefully ineffective throughout the course of the 2019 season as the sole winless team. Joe Cubitt, Mark Whitton, and Andrew Sjogren add a dynamic playmaking element that the Mechanix have lacked in the past, but the final results are still the same largely due to a lack of focus. Detroit trailed by just two goals near the end of the third quarter in Chicago before allowing the Wildfire to go on an 8-2 run to close out the game.
20. Austin Sol (20)
Similar to the Mechanix, the Sol occupy bottomfeeding spots in a host of team statistical categories heading into the final stretch of the regular season, which is a real bummer for a young franchise coming off their first playoff appearance in 2018. The main culprit is in Austin's giveaway/takeaway margins: The Sol are second to last in turnovers per game (24.10) and bottom six in blocks per game (8.60); not every turnover is the result of a block, so these numbers aren't purely representative of total possessions lost, but you get the picture of the disparity.
19. San Jose Spiders (17)
Officially eliminated from the postseason for the third time in four seasons, the 2019 Spiders campaign was a particularly dark quagmire of events. San Jose has three wins on the season, but all were against Seattle—a team that just beat them at home last weekend—with none coming against the two prohibitive West playoff teams in Los Angeles and San Diego. On a team loaded with downfield talent, Jackson Stearns is the lone player with 20+ goals. The Spiders have many legs, but this year left a question about where the heart of the team went.
18. Seattle Cascades (19)
Without their top three players, the Cascades earned a gutsy 26-25 overtime victory in San Jose to net their second win of the season, and get revenge for the Spiders' own come-from-behind overtime win from Week 1. Seattle has battled hard in every matchup so far in 2019—their largest margest of defeat is just five goals—but they need to win at least one of their last four games to avoid equaling a franchise low in wins set in 2014.
17. Montreal Royal (16)
The Royal's 2019 season very much resembles their 2018 campaign: Lots of potential, but little in the way of winning results. Last Saturday's 22-21 home loss to the rival Outlaws was a gut punch, given that Montreal was up 7-3 at the end of the first quarter, but eventually gave away the game, tumbling to a 2-6 record and in a virtual tie with Ottawa at the bottom of the East Division. The Quentins—Quentin Roger and Quentin Bonnaud—continue to have stellar individual seasons, but the Royal offense as a whole is underperforming, finishing in the bottom five in the league in scoring at 18.88 goals per game.
16. Ottawa Outlaws (18)
I don't know that I've ever seen two Callahans executed by the same team in the same game, let alone the layout variety that the Outlaws got in their dramatic comeback in the rain, on the road, to earn win number two on the season. And since the season-ending injury to franchise cornerstone handler Derek Alexander on May 18, Ottawa has done a good job of dispersing handler loads as Nick Boucher, Greg Ellis, and Geoff Bevan have stepped up to toss 21 assists on 218 completions (96.46 percent) during the team's last three games.
15. Philadelphia Phoenix (14)
The Phoenix held strong in the first half of both their games this past weekend against New York and then DC, but disastrous third quarters in both games—Philly was outscored 13-3 combined in their two matchups in Week 11—sealed their 0-2 fate. And despite having weapons like Sean Mott, Billy Sickles, and Himalaya Mehta on offense, the Phoenix are second to last in the league at a thin 16.86 goals per game; Philly has managed to score 20+ goals just once this season on May 5 against Ottawa,
14. Tampa Bay Cannons (13)
The Cannons have showed that they can hang with the top teams in the South for stretches at a time, but eventually succumb to execution errors that seal their fate, as Dallas take advantage of the Cannons' turnovers with precision last Friday. Andrew Roney continues to play like an MVP for this team, registering second overall in the AUDL with 5.86 assists per game, and ninth in completions per game with 49.29 (93.20 percent).
13. Atlanta Hustle (15)
The Hustle have been a different team since the beginning of May—Atlanta was 0-4 in April, and 3-2 since—but still remain well outside the playoff picture in the South. The rank middle of the pack in virtually every team statistical category save for one: Takeaways. The Hustle are dead last in the league with a paltry 7.78 per game. Some of that is due to their defensive scheming—the Hustle run the most zone of anyone in 2019, including more than the Radicals—but Atlanta in general has had a tough time coming up with important stops, and they've allowed opponents to score 22+ goals in three of their last four games.
12. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (11)
With three weeks to prepare for this Saturday's home matchup against the reeling Radicals, the Thunderbirds' essentially comes down to their ability to win their first game against Madison since 2015. Like then, though, Pittsburgh might have the best player on the field with All-Star Game MVP Max Sheppard playing as fluidly as anyone in the AUDL in his downfield offensive striking role. Sheppard has 21 assists and a team-high 26 goals on just 147 touches in 2019, giving him an almost 32 percent chance of registering a score whenever he has the disc.
11. Madison Radicals (8)
Three straight losses—and four in their last six games—have the Radicals on the ropes and in a position they've never been in before: fifth place in the Midwest with four games remaining. The championship hangover is in full effect as there seems to be no particular ailment afflicting Madison other than general malaise. The Radicals have scored just 65 goals in their last four games, and only four players on the roster have 10+ goals. Most alarming, though, for this team's identity is the sudden lack of urgency on the defensive end. Minnesota built a five-goal cushion before a too-late rally closed the gap to within two in the eventual loss last Saturday. Still, Madison remains just a game back of first place in the Midwest.
10. Minnesota Wind Chill (12)
With quality wins in each of their last two home matchups—one each against Chicago and Madison—the Minnesota Wind Chill are thoroughly in control of their playoff destiny in the final stretch of their schedule that has them face Indianapolis, Detroit, and Madison. The veterans on this team like Josh Klane, Jimmy Kittlesen, and Bryan Vohnoutka deserve heaps of credit, but the team's secret sauce has been rookie handling sensation Jesse Greenberg. He's tossed 21 assists on 301 completions (95.90 percent), and has been a perfect stabilizing balance to Klane and Cam Burden's more aggressive downfield looks.
9. Chicago Wildfire (9)
Even if you take away some of his most potent weapons, Pawel Janas continues to be the most impressive pure thrower in the league by a wide margin. Minus his three leading receivers in Matt Rehder, Jack Shanahan, and Michael Pardo, Janas was still able to toss seven assists on 43-for-44 throws in a decisive home victory over Detroit; Janas leads the league in assists (51) and completions per game (62.71). And though the Wildfire inserted standout coverage defender Nate Goff for the first time this season, it was a pair of rookies in Drew Swanson and Seth Weaver that helped carry the Wildfire with a combined nine blocks in Sunday's win.
8. Los Angeles Aviators (10)
There were a lot of doubts about the Aviators heading into the 2019 season given the veterans they lost during the offseason. But the rookie talent Los Angeles has gained in 2019 might be the best in the league outside of Raleigh. Danny Landesman and Joc Jimenez are playing like stars on both sides of the disc in both production and effort. And now they add college standout Calvin Brown, who made his pro debut last Saturday by completing all 22 of his throws and dishing two assists in a key win over San Diego that moves the team within one game of first place and a home playoff game. Brown showed no hesitation in launching 50-yard hammers to open up the Aviators offense, and allows more versatility in the attack.
7. San Diego Growlers (5)
Despite executing well for most of the game, the San Diego Growlers made a couple of dreadful mistakes late that ended up costing them the game; a win would've essentially sealed their position atop the division. San Diego possesses the number two offense (22.56 goals per game) and number two defense in terms of takeaways (11.78 blocks per game), but struggle to keep their foot on the accelerator when gaining a lead. For the team with the clearest path to Championship Weekend—the Growlers are still 3-1 against LA this season—San Diego could stand to assert itself more in their late season push.
6. Indianapolis AlleyCats (6)
With three of their final four games at home—including the recently flexed Week 14 "Game of the Week" matchup against Chicago—the Indianapolis AlleyCats are in prime position to take home their first regular season division title since 2012. And while it's been a full team effort that has gotten the 'Cats to this point, nobody is playing better, more inspired ultimate on the team than Travis Carpenter. He's leading the team in assists (31) and points played (207), and is second in completions at 308, while earning his highest completion rate as a pro this year at 96.00. As he showed in Madison two weeks ago, Carpenter simply has another gear he can elevate to in big moments, and that will be crucial for the AlleyCats as they look to re-establish the divisional hierarchy for the first time in half a decade.
5. Toronto Rush (4)
The Toronto Rush traded throughout in their "Game Of The Week" matchup last Saturday against the Breeze, but ultimately fell 23-22, leaving Canada's best at 0-2 against their potential playoff opponents in NY and DC in 2019. Cam Harris continues to have his most efficient season since his 2016 campaign, and Thomson McKnight and Andrew Carroll are as steady as ever. But after starting the season with great success, young receivers Nathan Hirst and Akifumi Muraoka have cooled off in recent weeks, and have struggled with consistency issues; the two are completing a poor 88 percent of their throws combined this year. If Toronto doesn't want to miss their second straight Championship Weekend, they will have to figure out a way to shore up their young playmakers.
4. DC Breeze (7)
What a wind a two-day span can give a team, as the DC Breeze went from competitive dog to darkhorse Championship Weekend contender in a single weekend with their hard fought wins over Toronto and Philadelphia. Rowan McDonnell might be on his way to becoming the third player in league history to repeat as MVP—following in the footsteps of Goose Helton and Beau Kittredge—and his surrounding cast seems to improve every week. The latest come-up is Max Cassell, who exploded for nine goals in the win against the Rush after missing a majority of the 2018 season due to injury. He's now up to 20 assists and 25 goals on the year, while completing a robust 95.90 percent of his 281 completions, making him one of the most effective and unheralded downfield strikers in the East Division.
3. Dallas Roughnecks (3)
The Dallas Roughnecks had a chance to take unambiguous possession of first place in the South Division on Saturday night in Raleigh and wound up with a nine-goal loss, their worst in franchise history. The Roughnecks still have one more opportunity against Raleigh this season, and could still take the season series and all important tiebreaker for home field advantage in the playoffs. And the loss emphasized something important: Despite being the number one team in the league in takeaways by a significant margin, they critically rely on Dillon Larberg—who was absent in Week 11—to pair with Kaplan Maurer to initiate their counterattack drives on defense.
2. Raleigh Flyers (2)
In addition to being a statement win, the Raleigh Flyers victory over Dallas proved beyond a doubt that they are the deepest roster in the league. You could remove almost any four-player combination of players from this roster in a given game and it would still be a championship-level contender; rookie phenoms Henry Fisher, Eric Taylor, and Sol Yanuck were absent in Week 11, and all the Flyers still gave the Roughnecks the what-for. Integrating Bobby Ley midseason might be a landscape-shifting development as the playoffs approach, and Jacob Fairfax (among others) has stepped up to overshadow the plethora of talented losses the franchise endured during the offseason—remember in the winter months when the common belief was that the Flyers were "screwed"? Ha!
1. New York Empire (1)
Oh what a unique, tantalizing matchup we have this weekend in the Game Of The Week this Saturday as the first place, undefeated New York Empire travel to face first place Raleigh in a battle for Jack Williams' soul. Hyperbole aside, Williams has been everything as advertised for his new team in 2019: 20 assists, 14 goals, seven blocks, and 229 completions at a 95.00 percent clip. It helps playing on the Empire's star-studded roster, but Williams has shown time and again he is capable of taking over when necessary. For such a calm and collected operator, it will be interesting to see what kind of performance Williams has going up against the Raleigh coaches/teammates/system that made him into the player he is today.