Seattle faces Portland for the third and final time this season at Renton Memorial Stadium as they look to work two late roster additions into their repertoire heading into the conference playoffs.
Despite their decisive win last week against Vancouver which all but secured their playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Rainmakers do have some work to do in the remaining weeks of the inaugural MLU season if they want to advance to the playoffs and eventually the league championship.
Seattle has a tendency to move the disc every three to four seconds, instinctively going with the first available open look instead of going for the riskier long bomb downfield. The Stags will likely put pressure on with their marks early in the stall count in addition to getting good downfield positioning to cut off the Rainmakers’ small ball, forcing them to huck, which has historically been the weakest part of their game. Fortunately for the Rainmakers, this plays right into their hand with the addition of two deep threats, Erik Doesberg and Matt Rehder, to the active roster.
Despite his absence, Rehder has been largely regarded as one of the league’s top players and Seattle’s success in the conference finals will depend upon integrating him into their already well-oiled offensive machine. They’ll need a go-to deep option when they face San Francisco in the conference playoffs, so this matchup against Portland will be an excellent opportunity to allow big guns like Adam Simon (10 goals, 14 assists) and Adam Holt (5 goals, 10 assists) to work out plays with Rehder that find him in the endzone.
And certainly don’t overlook Dutch phenom Doesburg who put in a strong performance on both sides of the disc last week against Vancouver. In his four points starting on offense and three on defense, Doesburg caught everything that came to him, went six for six on completions, and got in two defensive stops against the Nighthawks.
Two of the four remaining games for the Rainmakers are against the Dogfish, so if they want to work on their offensive chemistry and perfect some defensive schemes that will vault them over San Francisco, this will be the weekend to start.
For this game in particular, the Rainmakers will likely double up on Portland’s Timmy Perston, who currently leads the league in scoring with 24 goals in six games, if they’re going to avoid an upset. Seattle went into their last matchup against Portland knowing they had to contain him, and they did an excellent job at it. Portland can definitely use this to their advantage by involving their lesser known targets and working the disc through Cody Bjorklund (11 goals, 8 assists) and Ben Lohre (15 goals, 2 assists).
Fans should also note that this is going to be a brutal weekend for the Stags as they travel up to Seattle by bus on Saturday for this 1 pm game only to catch a flight the following morning to play at San Francisco at 3 pm. Although the Stags have not been mathematically eliminated from the playoff runnings, their chances are very slim. They either need to win all of their next four games, or they can win three of them and hope Vancouver takes care of business against San Francisco and Seattle in their remaining matchups, only to fall short of the Stags in point differential (the two teams are currently only separated by six points). One has to wonder whether Head Coach Justin Becker will emphasize one of these two games over the other, opting to take the other as a “schedule loss.” But as a recent article in a Portland weekly newspaper illuminated, the rivalry between Portland and Seattle runs deep, so if Becker does pick one game this weekend to play to the end, it will likely be this one.