It was the best of starts; it was the worst of starts.
The Philadelphia Spinners opened the season 2-0. The NY Rumble and the DC Current each started at 0-2.
After the first two weeks of the season, there was widespread praise for how the Spinners used their experience and general speculation that they would challenge the Boston Whitecaps (also 2-0 at the time) for the top spot in the East.
The Spinners have not won a game since, dropping to the bottom of the East with a 0-7 record and a -33 goal differential. They’ve scored more goals (145) than either the Current (136) or the Rumble (135), but their inability to stop opponents from scoring led to the second-most goals given up across the league (178), trailing only the Portland Stags (185) of the Western Conference.
Over that same span, both DC and NY have gone 3-3. They’ve given up nearly the same number of goals (148 and 142 respectively) and split their season series. While neither managed to rain on Boston’s season-long parade, DC has dropped games to the Whitecaps by 11 and 4 (-7.5 avg) while NY has lost to the top team by 8 and 6 (-7 avg). While their performances can seem superficially similar, DC has proven the more variable team while NY continues to show consistency.
After Week Five, the Current (then 1-4) were left for dead by Ultiworld while MLU reporters still considered the Spinners front-runners for the second playoff spot despite their having just lost three straight.
Then Week Six proved a turning point. While NY and Philly lost to Boston by identical scores (21-13), Philly also lost to DC (18-14). Suddenly, the Spinners were sitting at 2-5, while the Current and the Rumble improved to 2-4. The Spinners were now the lone tenants of the MLU Eastern Conference basement, a residency they would not relinquish for the remainder of the season.
Clearly, Boston has been king of the regular season. That, however, is not the big story. The upward trajectories of DC and NY crossing over Philly’s near-unbelievable 7-game losing streak has unfolded as the most fascinating narrative arc. Sure, experience counts for something in this league; but more than that, the ability of coaching staffs to adjust their game plans for specific opponents and to improve the cohesion of their teams has been vital.
Margins over the season:
This weekend, as the entire league looks back on a season-long marathon, the Eastern Conference has everything:
One team waltzing undefeated to the end of the season and—rest or rust–preparing to host a playoff game.
One team falling from the pinnacle of last year’s AUDL Championship, going from first-to-worst in the heart of the season.
Two teams fighting back from being 3 games under .500, and fighting still to claim the final playoff spot.
Come see two teams give all they have left to get to the next level, this Sunday at 4 pm at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, VA.