3 Things: MLR Round 4

Every week in the MLR provides us with too much information to process over two game days. We’ll be providing 3 immediate takeaways each week.

LA is Not Invincible

Another week, another LA win. Coming off the bye, LA ran out to their third bonus point victory. They now lead the Western Conference by 3 points with a game in hand over every team from 2-5. they beat a very good Toronto side 43-16. So, why should anyone have an question that they’ll win it all?

Because Toronto could’ve won this game.

The score line is jarring, but dig a little deeper. In the 37th minute, Toronto received a yellow card. In the following ten minutes of game time, LA put up 21 of those points. Over the other 70 minutes, the score line was 22-16. Had the game still been in play late, the Arrows might’ve flipped the plan. We’ll never know.

Then, consider the fact that, while LA was on the road, Toronto was not actually at home. They weren’t even in their temporary home in Georgia. This was a neutral sight with basically no fans. Imagine if this game actually happened in front of a fan base.

Let’s not pretend that LA isn’t incredibly impressive. The talent on this team could make a serious push in some of the higher quality leagues around the world. But a team with a strong defense playing in front of their home crowd on the right day might just be able to steal a win.

Austin and Houston Get Big Wins

Arguably, these could be two separate stories. You could also reframe it as ‘what has happened to San Diego and NOLA?’ I’m going to give my frequent foils the spoils this week.

For Houston, it was a win that (somehow) pushes them to 2-2 on the year. A week ago, this team looked dead in the water. And, in fairness, they weren’t perfect Saturday night. Sam Windsor’s leg, usually one of the best in the league, was just not having a good night. A missed Joe Pietersen conversion spared them from splitting the points. But give this team credit for coming back to life.

For Austin, it was their first win against a non-Houston team since 2018. Even if a lot of people were high on this squad coming into the season, they still needed to earn the praise. Beating NOLA helps them seem real. Even if most of the game looked like it was being played between two clones of the 2019 Austin Elite squad.

Side note: Austin wing and MLR’s Most Draftable Man Connor Mooneyham is becoming a true star. He’s the type of guy that would be fantastic in a video game. I’ll leave my crusade there.

Bye Teams Go 3-1

There were a lot comments on social media about the value of playing through struggles versus having a week off to train, especially at this early point in the season. Does going 3-1 end the discussion?

No.

There’s no way to really judge the value of wins and losses this early on. Were losses to Houston and LA because of Seattle’s struggles, Houston and LA being ready to go, because they were on the road, or something else entirely? Would they have still come together for a win if they’d played last week? Was this due to Seattle really stepping up or Utah regressing to the mean? I have no answers. The point is that there’s too many variables to evaluate the play v. bye debate after one week.

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