July 15, 2011

Working For The Weekend: MLL Week 8 News and Notes

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com

Rochester coach Tim Soudan said he is reluctant to trade away young players even with the Rattlers' 0-7 record, and team on the brink of postseason elimination. He also said Ned Crotty (above) and rookie Joel White are untradeable.

©Rich Barnes

It's one week after the All-Star Game and with one 6-1 team in the league and another 0-7, it's already time to talk playoff scenarios. Winless Rochester will be eliminated from the postseason with a loss to Denver, while first place Boston can clinch a playoff berth with a win over Long Island. Denver (5-2) clinches a berth with a win and a Long Island loss.

Here are some other news and notes as the league heads into Week 8 of the regular season:

Martin Done for Season

Denver's defense was dealt a big blow two weeks ago when Eric Martin was put on the four-game injured reserve with a shoulder injury. On Wednesday, Outlaws coach Tom Slate said Martin is out for the season with a broken collar bone.

Brett Schmidt, the rookie from Maryland, will take Martin's place on defense when the Outlaws host Rochester at 7 p.m. local time Saturday. "We think he's very capable," Slate said of Schmidt, "but trying to replace an Eric Martin is tough."

Expect the Unexpected From Rochester

Slate had an interesting analysis of his team's opponent this week, saying the Rattlers' youth leads to unpredictability, which of course is difficult to scout.

After stating that Ned Crotty is Rochester's best asset, Slate said, "With the youth that they have, they're playing a little bit reckless, and going for it. I think they're still trying to figure out what their system is, and the pieces and the parts. Sometimes that can be dangerous. [With] Joel White playing long pole middie and running down scoring and setting guys up. You have to be aware of just about everything with these guys."

The Untouchables: Crotty, White

The trade deadline is Tuesday, and Rochester would appear a team needing to make a move, although if they lose this weekend and are eliminated from the postseason, a trade would be rather meaningless for this season.

Rattlers coach Tim Soudan said he is reluctant to make a major deal, and doesn't know if many of the players on the roster are valuable trade commodities anyway, outside of Crotty and Joel White, whom Soudan said are untradeable.

"For me, they know if they're going to come and ask for Ned Crotty or Joel White, we're not going to give them up," Soudan said. "And some of these other guys aren't necessarily proven guys. I don't know how many guys are all that attractive. .... The whole concept of trade right now seems a little tough because there s a bunch of guys we don't want to get rid of, yet at the same time we're in a situation where we're 0-7."

If he were to make a trade, though, on Soudan's wish list is, "a really good scoring midfielder, say in their mid-20s, I'd be looking for something like that," "one more shut down defender," and athletic defensive midfielders. But again, Soudan said he would be reluctant to trade young local players who may be future superstars in the league. We shall see if Rochester's made an offer it can't refuse by the trade deadline.

"I don't want to give up guys who live in our region that could be superstars in this league," he said (Rookies Grant Catalino and Jordan McBride come to mind). "I don't know if that's worth it."

Rogers Emerges in Hamilton

Hamilton's goalie situation has been unsettled all season, with a three-player rotation of Joe Marra (who was voted into the All-Star Game), Scott Rodgers and Brett Queener. For now, Rodgers has the edge as the team's top goaltender. He's won back-to-back games, making 15 saves against Long Island and 17 against Rochester to help the Nats to an above .500 record.

"He's played really well," Hamilton coach Regy Thorpe said. "Scott is the frontrunner there. Brett and Joe give us some really good depth there."

Hamilton (4-3) hosts Chesapeake (4-3) at 7 p.m. Saturday.

"We're going to go with two of three, obviously," Thorpe said of the goalie situation. "We might switch it up from week to weep depending on who is playing better. We don't want each of them looking over their shoulder, but the good thing is they're all working well together."

Garrity Back, But Not As Starter

Chesapeake goaltender Chris Garrity, a key member of the Bayhawks' 2010 championship team who tore his MCL in the fourth game of the season, has been cleared to return. But he's now the backup to Brian Phipps, who's played well in Garrity's absence.

"Brian Phipps is our goalie right now," Chesapeake coach Brendan Kelly said. "We're excited to have Brian there and Chris there backing him up and staring to work himself back in the mix. We know Chris can win a championship and we're comfortable with Brian doing the same thing."

Cannons' Tunnel Vision

Boston, more than any other season, seems to be focused on quieting critics who point to their postseason struggles. The Cannons are the league's only original team not to win a championship, and were upset in last year's playoffs by Chesapeake as the No. 1 seed.

With a win at Long Island (8 p.m. Saturday), Boston will clinch a playoff spot. This is just the first of many indications that the Cannons are ready to win a championship, but also the type of talk that can start to derail what looks like the best team in the league.

"The bottom line is being focused, not letting things take us out of focus," Boston coach Bill Daye said. "Make sure we're thinking about one thing: Long island. It's great that we'll be able to clinch a playoff spot with a win, but at the end of the day it's all about the Lizards. They're a very good team despite their record."

Where (or What) is the Lizards Offense?

Daye may think the Lizards are better than their record indicates, but that's not to say there isn't a reason for Long Island being 2-5.

"[Matt] Danowski has the points, [Stephen] Berger has the points, [Stephen] Peyser has the points, but we need to get some contributions from some of the other players on a more consistent level," Lizards coach Jim Mule said. "That's one thing we have not been able to get."

That group includes Chris Fiore, Keith Cromwell and Tim Goettelmann, and rookies Jay Card and Zach Brenneman, none of whom have more than eight points this season. Mule said rookie attackman Ryan Young has had trouble adjusting to the speed of the pro game and the shot clock.

The trade for John Grant Jr. transformed the offense, bringing in a big presence. But in their last regular season game against Hamilton, Mule said Grant pressed too much in perhaps an attempt to exact revenge against the team that traded him. He had one goal and one assist.

"He didn't play well at all," Mule said. "He'd be the first to say that. We'll be looking for him to rebound."

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