On Saturday, April 30th, the Philadelphia Phoenix meet the Empire for the first time this season. The Empire are 2-0 overall, but are still flying under the radar across the AUDL. The general thought is, that the Empire haven’t put their offensive pieces together, and haven’t shown a dominate win against opponents that aren’t seen as tough competition like other top teams (the Dallas Roughnecks, Raleigh Flyers, Pittsburgh Thunderbirds, and San Francisco Flamethrowers) have had to battle week in, week out. A soul-crushing defeat of the Phoenix would go a long way to help establish the Empire as not only one of the top Eastern Division teams, but an AUDL-title contender early in the season.
I mentioned that the Empire’s offense is seen as struggling by those looking at the bigger-picture AUDL, and compared to some of the other undefeated teams in the league it certainly looks more disorganized. But when you look at the roster, and the success they’ve had offensively in every other level of play, you have to believe that becoming an unstoppable force within the division is only a few games of chemistry building away. The game against the Phoenix is a perfect opportunity to work on that, to become comfortable within the system and cruise to victory.
On the Phoenix
As has been the norm the past few seasons, the Empire are meeting the Phoenix before they’ve secured their first win this season. And like each of those last seasons, the last thing the Empire want to do is become that first “W” for the Phoenix. They’ve played two games so far; one a loss to the Rush, another to the Royal.
The two Ryan’s on the Phoenix have been standouts so far this season – that’s Ryan Flamberg and Ryan Forester. Flamberg has been a defensive machine for the Phoenix, with 5 defensive blocks, and most of his playing time coming on defense. Meanwhile Forester has received the most playing time for the Phoenix so far this season, and he’s used it to his advantage with 7 goals, 2 assists, and 90+% for catching and throwing. On each side of the disc, these two players have been keys to the Phoenix’s fight against their two opponents so far. For the Empire to win, neutralizing their effect on the game will help secure victory.
Getting to the Game
4:30pm start time at Randall’s Island Field 10, aka “The Pit”.
Games to Watch
It’s a big weekend in the AUDL’s Eastern Division, and for the league in general. If you’re looking for action between the Empire’s division-opponents, look no further than a heated rematch between the DC Breeze and Toronto Rush on Saturday night. Last weekend, the two battled to an exciting overtime thriller, with the Rush coming out on top, and this weekend they take the battle across the border to Canada. That’s followed by two games on Sunday, with the Breeze traveling to Montreal to take on the Royal, and the Ottawa Outlaws traveling to Toronto to face the Rush. The Outlaws are still looking for their first win on the season, while the Royal and Breeze are all looking to catch up to the undefeated Rush and Empire.
Across the league, the biggest game on the schedule is the Dallas Roughnecks at Raleigh Flyers game, which will be streamed on ESPN3. The Roughnecks have made a lot of noise since their inception this past off-season, while the Flyers are undefeated and the reigning Southern Division champions. The Madison Radicals vs Pittsburgh Thunderbirds game is also being streamed, and if you can handle watching two games at once on Saturday night, you should watch this game as well. These two teams have become their own huge Midwest rivalry, and each game seems more intense than the last.