Week 5: Philadelphia d. Boston 22-21 2OT
Just like last season, it was a tough pick to decide the top game in the Eastern Conference. Boston has been involved in two double overtime games and five other games that were decided by three points or less. This game was one of the cleaner ones in the East, that has been plagued with gusty winds throughout the season. In fact, there was not a break until the sixth point of the game when Boston dropped a pull. Twice in this game the Whitecaps negated a four point deficit that the Spinners had built, including the final four points of regulation. Throughout the entire game there were layout bids, massive skies, and 'where did he come from?' moments that would lead to the league's second double overtime game of the year.
San Francisco Dogfish d. Portland Stags 18-17
The West has had quite a few games that resulted in blowouts this year but this one was probably the most entertaining. Portland came into this game winners of five straight and were looking to run away with the conference. San Francisco on the other hand was in the bottom of the conference and needed a win to stay alive. Bottom line this game had everything you wanted (and some things you do not); breaks, layout blocks, clean offense, fouls, drops, upside-down throws, and unforced errors. Oh and I missed the best part where the Dogfish scored the final three points to get the biggest upset in 2015.
Jibran Mieser (New York Rumble) Week 2
Disappointed that Mieser broke his foot and is out for the remainder of the season because he has been one of the top players to watch the first half. In Week 2 he scored 2 goals and recorded an incredible 6 blocks against the Boston Whitecaps. He may not be the best player in the league but he surely is one of the most entertaining. Six blocks in a single game, especially against the Boston offense, that is unheard of in the MLU.
Morgan Hibbert (Vancouver Nighthawks) Week 5
In a single game, the workhorse Hibbert recorded 3 goals, 4 assists, and 3 blocks. Now it came in a loss, a blowout loss against the Rainmakers, but this game showed how Hibbert is willing this team this season. If he did not have the performance that he did, the largest deficit in the league of eight points would have been much larger. At the mid point in this season the 2014 Western Conference Champs are sitting in the basement of the West, almost out of playoff contention. Maybe Hibbert should have received more credit than he already earned last year.
Jeff Graham (Boston Whitecaps) 36 points, 18 goals, 18 assists, 156/172 throws, 6 D's
Every time you watch Boston play, Jeff Graham is on the field doing something. There is no question in the East the amount of impact Graham has had on this team and the East this season. Honestly he could have won the single game performance award as well for his 11 point game in Week 1. He is the only player in the league to score both a goal and throw an assist in every game this season while completing over 90% of his passes. Boston may not make the playoffs this season but Graham looks to be running away with this title in the East.
Cody Bjorklund (Portland Stags) 29 points, 8 goals, 21 assists, 104/114 throws, 4 D's
Impressive stat line for Cody Bjorklund, but would you believe me if I told you he did all with a broken hand? Well he has and each week it appears that he is getting healthier and healthier. This past weekend he record nine total points along with two blocks. Now he has more competition in the West for this title, even among his teammates, but if you consider what he has done with a broken hand he will most likely win. However if Portland starts slipping then it will open up the door for other West stars.
Billy Sickles (Philadelphia Spinners)
Second year in a row that this award I have given to a Spinner, but after his performance thus far I do not have much of an option. As a rookie player in the MLU he is playing on Philadelphia as seasoned veteran. So far in five games in 2015 (half the league has played six) he has recorded 8 goals, 18 assists, and 3 blocks with a 96.7% throw percentage tied for the second highest in the league with players that have thrown 100+ throws. If he can continue to excel for the remainder of the season, he will most likely move into the MVP conversation.
Gabe Saunkeah (San Francisco Dogfish)
With Evan Boucher now gone from San Francisco, the Dogfish could have been in real trouble for the remainder of the season. However Gabe Saunkeah has come onto the scene for San Fran with 9 goals, 11 assists, and 3 blocks on the season. He has had good performances all year long, but in the first official game with Boucher not on the team he stepped up when the Dogfish needed him most. Saunkeah can even go both ways for his team, playing both offensive and defensive points which will be pivotal if they are going to make a playoff push.
Billy Maroon (Philadelphia Spinners)
Its not like the Whitecaps or the Current got worse as a team, the Spinners simply just got better, a lot better. A lot of the credit should go to Billy Maroon. Over the past three seasons Maroon has developed his players to fit his system and many have become some of the league's top players. They are not the superstar players like DC and Boston have, but they are a complete team similar to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA. Who do we attribute to much of their success? Their head coach. Philadelphia is on track to not only making the MLU Playoffs but also claiming the number one seed in the conference.
Steve Gussin (Seattle Rainmakers)
It is never easy to have a successful season when half of your roster goes and leaves the franchise. Just look at the Vancouver Nighthawks and their 1-4 record on the season thus far. Gussin has taken this Rainmakers team, with plenty of pieces around him and is starting to put things together. It got off to a slow start for this team but they are growing and looking more impressive with each passing week. At this moment the team sits at second in the West with a huge matchup against the Stags looming but with three home games remaining, things look to be working their way.
Week 1: Philadelphia Spinners d. Boston Whitecaps 22-20
Week 1: Washington DC Current d. Boston Whitecaps 19-18 2OT
Best-Single Game Performance:
Jeff Graham (Boston Whitecaps): Week 1: 4 goals, 7 assists
Alan Kolick (DC Current): Week 1: 8 assists
Cody Bjorklund (Portland Stags): Week 5: 2 goals, 7 assists, 1 block
Khalif El-Salaam (Seattle Rainmakers): Week 5: 4 goals, 3 assists, 1 block
Peter Prial (DC Current): 28 points, 18 goals, 10 assists, 6 blocks, 91/111 throws
Billy Sickles (Philadelphia Spinners): 26 points, 8 goals, 18 assists, 3 blocks, 117/121 throws
Timmy Perston (Portland Stags) 29 points, 21 goals, 8 assists, 2 blocks, 46/49 throws
Mark Burton (Seattle Rainmakers) 29 points, 13 goals, 16 assists, 2 blocks, 88/96 throws
Rookie of the Year:
Chirs Kocher (New York Rumble): 22 points, 7 goals, 15 assists, 6 blocks, 103/116 throws
We have not been in this situation before, neither the Current or the Whitecaps are running away with the conference. Philadelphia on the other hand has taken care of business with the two former champions. They have done what no other team has done before: they beat both DC and Boston on the road in the same season. The Spinners also have three home games remaining, which everyone knows bodes well for them. I have it coming down to point differential with a three way tie between Philadelphia, Boston, and D.C. The Whitecaps already have an advantage in this category and are playing the Rumble twice more. The Spinners are in the same situation but the Current will have the chance to claw back with two games in Philly.
#1 Seed: Boston Whitecaps
#2 Seed: Philadelphia Spinners
The West looks to be in a cleaner situation. At this point, unless Portland loses every game from here on out, they will be the top seed. Then after that, second place will be entirely up for grabs between the remaining teams. Seattle and Vancouver both have three home games remaining on their schedule, and San Francisco only has only one. Barring a miracle, and everything going their way, the Dogfish are not going to make the postseason leaving the Rainmakers and the Nighthawks battling for the second seed for the third season in a row. I believe the two game deficit will be too much for the Nighthawks to overcome and Seattle will be heading to Portland for the Western Conference Championship.
#1 Seed: Portland Stags
#2 Seed: Seattle Rainmakers