3 Things: MLR Round 3

Dallas Deserves Better

The Houston turnaround is worth recognizing, but Dallas deserves more credit.

The Jackals’ first home match showed the massive growth they’ve made in just three weeks. Having to go through the Austin buzz saw for their first game could’ve killed their confidence. It didn’t. Losing to San Diego despite so many opportunities could’ve hurt their spirit. It didn’t. Hosting a Texas derby against Houston showed the next step forward for this team.

Houston deserved the win, and that’s what made this so impressive for Dallas. Houston didn’t give up tons of chances, but Dallas stayed in. Houston defended decently, but Dallas took a lead. Dallas wasn’t able to close against a Cats team that is gelling well ahead of schedule, but it took them every minute to get their win. There was genuine emotion from the Dallas players. In a league where so many players come from abroad and don’t see an MLR title as a top trophy, Dallas wants this.

Dallas needs a bit more depth and skill at finishing. The March 5th match against Utah could be a real opportunity to steal one. They could finish the year looking like they belong in the playoffs.

The East Has A Clear Hierarchy

Three weeks in and you’d think the Eastern playoffs are set.

Consider the table:

  1. ATL (11 points)
  2. NE (9)
  3. NY (9)
  4. Toronto (4)
  5. NOLA (2)
  6. DC (0)

There’s a full five point gap between the final playoff spot and the first team out, and New England and New York each have a game in hand. That gap could swell quickly.

NOLA has the weekend off before a match before traveling to take on a tough looking Seattle team. Toronto and DC meet this weekend in a game that could turn one team’s story from ‘rough start’ to ‘starting to fade completely’.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it. The 4-6 weeks of the season aren’t about winning the championship, but about not losing it. No one is out of this, but the bottom three need results quickly.

MLR’s Greatest Rivalry Renewed

New York and New England could become one. NOLA and ATL claim to have one. The Texas teams could have one, but I’m not buying that yet.

Major League Rugby has one true rivalry. This weekend, it was properly renewed.

Seattle and San Diego is properly. It went to the very end. I’m at a point where most of my MLR viewing involves note taking and thinking past the game itself, this one forced even me to sit back and take it in. Even the SportsDeck couldn’t ruin this.

A rivalry cannot just be about two cities that are somewhat near each other. Its not about being in the same conference. Its about going head to head when things really matter and dueling to the end. Seattle knocking San Diego out of the league’s first playoffs sowed the seeds. Seattle going into Torerro and stealing the second Final from the Legion made it real. These franchises find each other when its do or die.

In a five-year-old league, most rivalries are just marketing talk. Teams haven’t had enough history to build earned rivalries. But there is one. Let’s all just be glad we get to do it again this year. Hopefully, twice.

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