Welcome to the transitory phase of the MLR season.
As I’ve repeated several times, it takes four games to really get your team flowing. For some teams, a pair of preseason matches and two regular season rounds fulfills that need. For others, (like New York,) there was no preseason and one regular match. From there, teams fall throughout the spectrum. Some teams are going to be as sharp as they’ll be, while others may be sloppy now but greatly improved in a few weeks time.
One thing that hasn’t been improving is my record. After a 4-2 start to the year, I manged a 4-2 performance last week. That takes me to (checks complex calculations) 8-4 on the young year.
This weeks picks are below. Enjoy all the ways I’m right, and ignore the fact that, statistically speaking, two of them are pure crap.
Bye: LA Giltinis
Old Glory DC v. New England Free Jacks
Old Glory has yet to look like a cohesive side during the young season, but games against ATL and Austin are hardly ideal starts. Simply put, New England (with a full week to plan) is more talented, more cohesive, and better coached.
Winner: Free Jacks
Rugby ATL v. Rugby New York
This is where the weekend gets interesting. This one will have repercussions for the rest of the season. ATL looks much sharper through two round, but New York has more pure talent. The Roosters might need more time to fully exploit their skill having sat out the first round. I’ll give a narrow edge to the home team.
NOLA Gold v. Toronto Arrows
Depending on the results from the ATL/NY match, this game could send the winner as high as second. Frankly, both feel like they should have more to show for their seasons than they do. The Arrows have shown they can hold a tough defense, but they haven’t been able to hold for 80 minutes. NOLA isn’t explosive, but they can break you down through the pack. Again, I’ll give the home team the edge in a tight one.
Dallas Jackals v. Houston SaberCats
At face value, its a suddenly intriguing Houston team against an expansion side. While Houston has shown they can run with the best sides so far, Dallas pushed San Diego hard last week. It might be too simple, but penalty count will dictate this one. Dallas used everything San Diego gave them last week, and they gave them plenty. If Houston can stay disciplined, they head home happy. If Dallas make a mess of it, the men in teal could manage a steal.
Austin Gilgronis v. Utah Warriors
Austin has found a way to finish consistently. Consistency isn’t something for which Utah is known. The Warriors are based on wearing a team down through the forwards before exploited mistakes late through a flashy back line. That’s not a recipe that is designed to beat Austin. The orange scrum is so dominant and the bench so deep that Utah will struggle to create the holes needed for the backs. On top of that, they just haven’t replaced Schulte adequately. This isn’t a team that needs an elite 10, but it needs a technical man to work the pivot. They just don’t have quite enough in any faze of the game to beat Austin.
San Diego Legion v. Seattle Seawolves
Major League Rugby’s greatest rivalry returns. Seattle looks back to its classic form. San Diego still looks a step back.
The Seawolves are built to create opportunities through defense. Speed off the line creates errors, forcing either a turnover or the attack to retreat. Once you make a mistake, you’re there’s. The Legion are largely built to attack. Pietersen and Hooley provide a pair of play makers when in possession. The key question (as mentioned above) will be the Legion’s discipline. They gave a lot to Dallas last week, but Seattle is built to take. I think the men in red will stand up for this one at home, but this is one that we should all just enjoy as it happens.
Winner: San Diego