So far our restraint on a couple impulsive moves people wanted to see have been validated. Some fans wanted the Turlock Cal Express at or near the top of the rankings ahead of the San Diego Sockers after their season-opening upset of the Sockers and 2-0 start. Since then San Diego has won six in a row, while the Express have lost three of their last four.
Fans had a better case when they suggested that the then-undefeated Florida Tropics should be higher in the rankings, but after losing at home to the Milwaukee Wave Saturday, the teams seem to have been right where they should be.
Far more volatile are the teams in the #6-14 middle pack, which the Baltimore Blast dabbled in for one week, but righted themselves. It’s still to be determined whether the St. Louis Ambush and Kansas City Comets are both good or both bad, but it will take a miracle for St. Louis to not be 3-8 after their next five games, which take them to the Sonora Soles, Monterrey Flash, and Milwaukee, and then two home games against Utica City.
Still, it was a very good week for the Ambush, as well as for the Blast and Soles. On the other end, it was the worst week for the Tacoma Stars, who have now lost four straight.
This week’s schedule appears light on intrigue, with Saturday’s Florida at Baltimore game, and Sunday’s Ontario Fury at San Diego game taking center stage.
Last Week: 1
36 goals scored in their first three games, but only 17 in their last three, including a pair of one-goal wins in Texas. Berna Valdovinos is not holding up his end of Monterrey’s bizarre goalkeeping duet. Diego Reynoso has a sterling 2.33 GAA playing in the first half of each game, while Valdovinos has a still-respectable-but-startlingly-higher 5.44 GAA playing in the second halves (and overtime).
The Wave held off the Tropics on the road to avenge their only loss of the season and then Milwaukee escaped the pesky Outlaws before an MASL season high 5,816 fans on New Year’s Eve.
The Sockers rallied to avoid an upset by the physical Soles, prevailing 8-7 to run their winning streak to six.
What would be better than a best-of-seven playoff series between City and the Blast? Both teams have now won four times on the other’s floor since Utica moved from Syracuse.
The Tropics rally against the Wave fell short, leaving Monterrey as the league’s only undefeated team. Though he never played for Florida, the Tropics had to cut bait on Wilo Martinez and loan him to Sonora due to the league’s visa crisis. Gordy Gurson has uncharacteristically missed three of the last four games due to injuries.
There wouldn’t have been enough bridges to jump off of if Baltimore had lost to Rochester, but instead the Blast rebounded with an 11-0 win, William Vanzela’s record 10th shutout. The real trick was beating Utica 5-4 the next night to get back to .500.
Harrisburg is now 4-0 against Rochester and 0-2 against Utica. It will take a while to figure out who this Heat team really is this year.
The short winning streak came to a devastating halt as the Fury blew a 6-3 lead at home to then 1-4 Sonora.
Mesquite beat up Dallas and then arm-wrestled Milwaukee to a near deadlock before faltering in the end. The Outlaws losses to Monterrey and Milwaukee have been almost as impressive (if not more so) as their wins over Dallas. Outlaws games have only averaged a combined 8.8 goals, well below the league average of 11.43.
Did we hear right that this is only the third time St. Louis has won three in a row? Things seem to be falling into place for the Ambush, despite the absence of Lucas Almeida. Tony Walls is having a career year after last season’s three goal non-starter. The next five games, however, could be killers for the Ambush’s season.
The Comets destroyed Tacoma, but continued their recent struggles (six losses in their last nine meetings) against St. Louis.
Sonora is going to be a big pain in the butt for whoever they play the rest of this year. The re-ascension of Enrique Canez and the addition of Wilo Martinez, combined with a Boardwalk Bullies attitude will make Sonora a tough out. Their major weakness right now is goalkeeping. Canez already has eight more points (in 11 less games) than he did with Monterrey last year.
No one had a worse week than Tacoma, who could now be fighting a more crowded field of Ontario, Mesquite, Turlock, and Sonora for a playoff spot. The Stars have dug themselves a big hole and the schedule doesn’t really lighten up for them, even when they return from two games in Texas to a five-game home stand. Danny Waltman is carrying a career-worst 6.73 GAA.
Dallas put a scare into Monterrey for the second time this year after losing to Mesquite for the second time this year. The Sidekicks finished their four-game home stand 1-3.
Rochester has been outscored 42-9 in four home games this season.