3 Things: MLR Round 16

Free Jacks Get Key Loss

No team will say they want a loss. That won’t stop Scott Mathie from breathing a bit easier.

The New England coach must’ve been feeling significant pressure building as his side went on a historic winning streak. While its great to see New England fans take in a team that’s a threat to win it all, the streak became bigger than the game. Streaks always do. They consume focus. Sometimes, they block out the overall goal of a title. Other times, they breed complacency. If you feel you have all the answers, you forget to study for the big exam.

With the streak now behind them, this team can focus on getting things right for what really matters. They’ll almost certainly clinch the Eastern Conference bye. Once that’s done, it’ll be about getting healthy and ready. The true big test is just around the corner.

LA Returns to Top Spot

LA isn’t the best team in the West. Fortunately for them, that’s not how standings work.

A combination of LA clobbering Dallas in the second half of their game and Utah kicking Austin back, the Giltinis sit atop the pile once again. The biggest note is the return of Eagle’s flyhalf Luke Carty. After a rotating door at ten, Carty provides a steady presence that’s actually made for the position. With all due respect to Luke Burton, Orene Ai’i, and Harrison Godardd, Carty is the true flyhalf they need for a real playoff run.

Carty’s fitness will be something to watch. With no real depth at the pivot, they need him to stay healthy. Gary Gold will also be watching with a close eye. The spot on the bench behind AJ MacGinty is up for grabs. If Carty can prove himself, he’ll have a chance at playing behind the American captain in July’s World Cup Qualifiers against Chile.

Playoff Field is (Nearly) Set

With all due respect to the San Diego Legion, Seattle Seawolves, and Toronto Arrows, their eliminations are mere formalities at this point. Houston is cementing third in the West. they’re closer to LA at the top (3 back) than San Diego below them (4 clear and only one game to play). Seattle is ten behind Houston with both sides having two games to play. Is there a mathematical possibility that Seattle gets past Houston? Yes. Will they? Its not even worth linking to the Dumb and Dumber meme.

Toronto has the slightest sliver of hope, but they’ll be at home when the playoffs start. 7 back with just 2 games to play, Atlanta and New York are almost certain to finish above them. We’ll have more on that in tomorrow’s State of the Race, but it doesn’t look good.

While position jockeying could go down to the wire, the teams are likely set. Fortunately, they’ll make for a fantastic Championship Series.

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