It’s time for another edition of Hannah’s Picks, with some of my opinions thrown in there. My week started off on the wrong foot as Dallas took care of Monterrey, so my chances of two straight undefeated weeks went down the tubes almost immediately. I bounced back rather nicely, finishing with a 7-4 record, while Hannah went 6-5. Week 13 has quite a few great match-ups, so who do we have winning them? Here’s our picks!

FRIDAY 2/22:

BALTIMORE over Milwaukee: Right out of the gate, we’ll start with a 2018 Eastern Conference rematch between the Blast and Wave. Milwaukee is looking to avenge their loss to Baltimore at SECU Arena, while the Blast are looking to catch Utica City in the Eastern Conference. This is a huge week for the Eastern Division as both Baltimore and Utica play twice in three days, with Sunday being a match-up between the two teams (which I will go into later in this article). It can go one of three ways: Baltimore sweeps the weekend, Baltimore splits the weekend, or they lose both games. As a fan of Utica City, I’m hoping for the last option, and dreading the first one. So, I will go with option two, a weekend split. That means Baltimore wins against the Wave. When these teams met last season, the Wave played three out of the four quarters well, but were shut out in the fourth, losing 10-6. For the Wave to win, Ian Bennett will need to have another solid game. In their last meeting, Bennett scored once, a third quarter goal that narrowed the deficit to one. Goalkeeper Josh Lemos missed the Wave’s last game against the Kansas City Comets, and I’m sure he will be a game time decision for this one as well. The Blast outplayed Mississauga in the second half on Sunday, holding the MetroStars to one goal in that half. I see Baltimore carrying over that defense to Friday’s match-up against a very potent Wave offense. The Blast win 7-5, setting up another huge game against Utica on Sunday. HANNAH’S PICK: Hannah, without hesitation, also picks the Blast in this one.

UTICA over Mississauga: Utica City and Mississauga are the next game on the schedule. These teams met back on February 10th, with Utica City scoring a season high 13 goals, easily dispatching the MetroStars by a 13-5 count. But, I’m not going to compare this game to their last match-up in Utica. Let’s go back to January 11th in Mississauga, their first meeting of the season. Down one with less than one minute left, Slavisa Ubiparapovic and Joey Tavernese scored within 40 seconds of each other, helping Utica come back to win against the MetroStars 5-4. Mississauga have been playing their Eastern Division rivals quite well at home, beating the Heat twice, and taking both Baltimore and Utica to the fourth quarter either in the lead, or down by one or two goals. Mississauga will get their big win at home against one of these teams (spoiler alert for a future Merlin’s Picks), but it won’t come on Friday. The City will take down Mississauga in a close game, 8-5. HANNAH’S PICK: Hannah doesn’t take very long to scream out, “Utica City!!”

ORLANDO over St. Louis: The SeaWolves and Ambush are still in the thick of the second playoff spot in the South Central Division, so this game is very important to both teams. When it comes to games played though, St. Louis has less room for error, as they’ve played six more games than the SeaWolves. This game is too close to call, with all three games between these two, coming down to a one goal difference. I like Orlando’s play of late, so I will take the SeaWolves, this time in a two goal victory, 8-6. HANNAH’S PICK: Hannah is going to take the Ambush in this one.

TACOMA over Turlock: In the final game on Friday, Turlock hosts the Stars. Tacoma is coming off of a tough weekend, losing both legs of a home-and-home with San Diego, while Turlock doubled their win total by dispatching the El Paso Coyotes at home. Tacoma needs to start a winning streak in order to have a chance at the second seed in the Pacific Division, and I see them starting one against the Express. Tacoma 9, Turlock 4. HANNAH’S PICK:

SATURDAY 2/23:

MILWAUKEE over Harrisburg: In the only game on Saturday, Milwaukee continues its East Coast trip by making a stop in Harrisburg to take on the Heat. Harrisburg blew a 4-1 lead in the second half against Mississauga on Sunday, eventually losing 6-5. But, remember the last two teams Harrisburg beat at home on back to back nights: Baltimore and Utica. So, is it possible for the Heat to beat the Wave at home? Absolutely! Is it probable? Probably not. Milwaukee will inch one step closer to another South Central Division title after defeating the Heat, 10-6, with Ricardo Carvalho scoring two of those goals! HANNAH’S PICK: Hannah thinks Harrisburg can tame the Wave, making this her upset of the week!

SUNDAY 2/24:

UTICA over Baltimore: This will be the last meeting at SECU Arena during the regular season between the City and the Blast, with each team taking one game. Utica put on its best showing this season in Baltimore during their last match, ending the Blast’s 18-game home winning streak, and in embarrassing fashion. Fun fact: Before their games against Baltimore and Mississauga two weeks ago, Utica’s goal differential was at a +16, after these games, it doubled to a +32. Baltimore, bounced back rather nicely after that loss against Utica, easily dispatching the Heat the next night, then pulling away from the MetroStars in their last game. How much will the Blast have in the tank after their tilt with the Wave? I see Utica coming out on top, but not by the 9-1 score from their last game. City FC wins the season series against Baltimore, giving them a key tiebreaker, if it comes down to it. Utica 7, Baltimore 4. HANNAH’S PICK: Utica wins, and she thinks Bo Jelovac will score the most goals in this game.

ST. LOUIS over Florida: The Ambush don’t have much time to rest, as they have yet another home game, facing another South Central Division rival on Sunday. The good news for them is it’s against the last place Florida Tropics. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The Tropics will play spoiler for the rest of the year. They will hurt someone’s playoff chances. On Sunday, I don’t see that being the case. The Ambush will bounce back after a loss at the hands of Orlando on Friday. Give me St. Louis 9-6 over the Tropics. HANNAH’S PICK: Hannah thinks Florida will play spoiler in this one in another upset!

KANSAS CITY over Orlando: I think the South Central Division is going to boil down to two teams fighting over the right to face the Milwaukee Wave in the playoffs, and it just so happens these two teams will play against each other on Sunday. This will be the first meeting between the two teams this season, and that means they will get to play each other four times over the course of the next month and a half. While I think Orlando still has the inside track to that second playoff spot, Kansas City is playing this one at home, and for the most part have been playing some great soccer at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena (except for that 8-2 loss against the Wave last week), so I’m going with the Comets over the SeaWolves 8-6. HANNAH’S PICK: Hannah finally agrees with me. She’s picking the Comets and their blue turf.

HARRISBURG over Mississauga: The final Eastern Division match-up of the week takes place later on Sunday as Harrisburg hosts the Mississauga MetroStars. Mississauga is still looking for its first road victory this season, while Harrisburg will be looking to win their fourth straight game at home. The Heat will be looking to avenge a loss against the MetroStars last week, and I believe a little home cooking will help this out. The Heat will keep Mississauga winless on the road, beating the MetroStars 9-4. HANNAH’S PICK: Hannah will take the Heat as well. I told Hannah about one of our biggest fans that plays for the Heat and asked her how many goals she thinks he will score. Ricardo you have some work to do my friend, because Hannah thinks you will score five goals on Sunday.

RIO GRANDE VALLEY over Ontario: The Barracudas will be looking to bounce back after a 5-2 loss against the Monterrey Flash on Monday night, while Ontario will start a huge four game road trip against the top two teams in the Southwest Division, as well as Pacific Division rivals San Diego and Tacoma. Rio Grande has a very impressive 6-2 record at home, while Ontario is struggling on the road, with a 3-5 record. I think for Ontario to be in the thick of the Pacific Division playoff hunt, they will need to go 2-2 on this trip. But, I believe they will start 0-1 after Rio Grande Valley handles business at home, 8-5. HANNAH’S PICK: Hannah and my son Henry keep saying “Barracuda”, so using my instincts on this one, they are going along with me and will pick Rio Grande Valley.

TACOMA over Dallas: In the final game Sunday, Tacoma hosts Dallas. As I’ve stated in previous games, the battle for the Pacific Division will come down to which team wins the games they should win. Tacoma needs to win this game, as it is at home, and they are playing a Dallas team that lost to the Barracudas 9-4 last Sunday. The Stars have shown they can play with the Sockers, and will need to play with that intensity going forward. Coach Nick Perera will have his players ready for this game, and should easily defeat the Sidekicks in Kent, 8-3. HANNAH’S PICK: Hannah is picking Tacoma as well.

MONDAY 2/25:

MONTERREY over Ontario: Another Monday Night Match-up In Monterrey! The Flash are coming off of a roller coaster week, losing to Dallas on the road, but then handling Southwest Division rival Barracudas four days later, 5-2. A low scoring affair is on the horizon as this game will feature two of the top goalkeepers in the MASL in Chris Toth and Diego Reynoso. I think the Flash will have twice as many shots on goal as the Fury in this one, and a few more will cross the line for Monterrey as well. Give me the Flash 5-2. HANNAH’S PICK: We are in agreement once again, as Hannah is going with the Flash.

As I was finishing this up on Wednesday, news had just come out of El Paso, about the passing of Coyotes midfielder Frank Briones. In times like this, we as a community, gather together as one in support of everyone close to Frank. My thoughts, prayers, and condolences go out to Frank’s family, friends, teammates both past and present, the fans of the El Paso Coyotes, and the entire organization.

MASL Nation, this week, we are El Paso. Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you in Week 14!

Merlin –
Last week: 7-4, Season: 88-31

Hannah –
Last week: 6-5, Season: 51-39