A new look team in 2016 will take the field this new season for the Washington D.C. Current. Our writing staff, Tyler Byrum and Chester Eng wants to help the fans prepare for the season. This week we took a quick look at some key upcoming points in the season that will be pivotal for the Current and give an outlook at the rest of the teams in the Eastern Conference.
The Current are coming off their first season that they did not make the playoffs. The team kicks off the season with a three game home stand against the Boston Whitecaps, Philadelphia Spinners, and New York Rumble.
T – In order to make the playoffs the team is going to need to get a big home win against Philadelphia this weekend, especially after starting off with a loss to Boston. Home records are key in Major League Ultimate and if they fall to 0-2 to start the year, they will be playing catch up all season long.
C- The team must start fast and take at least two of three games during their season-opening homestand. Otherwise, because home field is such a determining factor in MLU play, D.C. will be in for a season-long uphill battle.
The Current will have two doubleheader weekends on the season, both of them having all the games on the road. The first doubleheader will have Boston and New York while the second will have Boston followed by Philadelphia.
T – Ensuring that the team emerges with a victory on at least one of these road trips will be a priority. The easy look will be to get one against New York in Week 5. However it would be a larger factor if the team can snag a game in the front end from Boston on either weekend.
C – Both doubleheader weekends will be significant tests of D.C.’s physical and mental staminas. If the Current have their processes and systems working well early and start the season at least 2-1, they should have every reason to believe that they can come away with at least one win during their first road trip. A trip to Philadelphia immediately following a game in Boston on June 11-12 will be the toughest stretch of the season for D.C. How well the Current play in these two games could not only define this season, but also define subsequent seasons.
There will be back-to-back byes for the Current, not having a game from May 1st– 21st. That will also be followed with a bye on the first weekend of June.
T – The byes are going to be an interesting time for the team. With them being late in the season it helps the newly formed team get valuable reps together in order to make a playoff push. The break evenly splits the season in half. The third bye in June will come after a big game in Philadelphia that will be emotional no matter the result. The bye will give them time to prepare for another big road trip to Boston the following week.
C- Regardless of their record going into them, the bye weekends will be crucial times for the Current to regroup, recover, and rework. Players and coaches have stressed that their work off the field has been almost as crucial as their play on the field in 2016.
T – The defending champions Whitecaps lost the 2015 MVP and Offensive Player of the Year in Jeff Graham and Josh Markette. However in losing that pair, they gained another tandem of players with Andrew Hooker and Nick Thompson from the San Francisco Dogfish. Boston will be poised to have another strong season with a majority of the places still in place. The team may not be as great as years past but still are going to be a team to beat.
C – The Current will have their hands full in the season opener against the Whitecaps. With 18 returners from 2015, this Boston squad with major playing time together will have inherent advantages over a D.C. team that does not have the same luxury of familiarity. The Current must use their speed, height, and athleticism to counter the Whitecaps’ experience.
T – The Spinners will be the team to beat in the East, after their first MLU playoff appearance in 2015. All of their top guys are returning for this season and have the most favorable schedules in the East. They have only one doubleheader weekend on the season and it was the first week of the season with a road game against New York and a home game against Boston. They won both game, giving themselves an early lead in the East.
C – The Current have the athleticism, speed, and height to keep pace with the Spinners. To come away with the win, the D.C. defense must keep the Philadelphia offense off balance and force turnovers. Keeping the disc out of their hands will not be as easy task: In 2015, the Spinners boasted a league-high 92.7 completion percentage, had the most touches per offensive possession (TPOP) in MLU with 7.22, and committed the fewest turnovers in the Eastern Conference.
New York Outlook
T – Do not sleep on the Rumble this season. They may not be ready for the playoffs just yet but are more than capable at stealing a game from the top trio of teams at the right moment. The franchise lost their top guys in Chris Mazur, Chris Kocher, and Joseph Anderson, but have talented youth that can be dangerous once they all come together. Having Quinn Hunziker and Matt Wilson returning will bring much needed experience.
C – Though the Rumble have 20 rookies in 2016 and this matchup has favored the Current historically, D.C. will still have to push hard for the W against a hungry and determined New York team. Offensive sloppiness and defensive inconsistency plagued the Current during a surprise early-season loss to the Rumble last season. D.C. cannot leave such room for error this year.
Tyler’s D.C. Prediction: 5-5
The first two weeks of the season will shape up the formation of the east early on. Boston, Philadelphia and D.C. will each play each other in that span. Whichever team emerges on top after Week 2 will set the tone for the remainder of the season and have the other two squads scrambling for that final spot. The Current’s home record will shine once again this season and will be the anchor at bringing a playoff berth back to the nation’s capital. Philadelphia will claim first in the East with the team’s entire core returning this season. The cross-divisional game will end up hurting the Whitecaps, giving them one less conference game than the rest of the teams and also losing a winnable home game against the Rumble. The Current may struggle early on but expect a strong finish at the end of the year. Hopefully the experience on the team will give the team enough wins early on to send them over the top.
Chester’s D.C. Prediction: 5-5.
Though they are coming off their first playoff-less season and an offseason with much change, the Current still have the skills and abilities to contend in 2016. The Current will likely keep every game this season close and could well pull off an upset or two. However, D.C.’s developing chemistry will likely not be enough to outdo the already developed chemistries of the majority-returner Boston and Philadelphia teams this season. Still, the Current have enormous potential and are a team already on the rise.