The 2015 Major League Lacrosse season is about to kick off (this Sunday, don’t you know?) and this marks a MAJOR milestone for the league, as this is now their 15th year in existence. Remember when people were saying that MLL wouldn’t last beyond a couple years? Well, here we are!
Back in the day, MLL players were part-time lacrosse guys. The vast majority of the guys worked 9-5 jobs, and played pro lacrosse on the weekends. Flash forward to today and 2015 Major League Lacrosse salaries haven’t climbed to the point that these guys only PLAY lacrosse, but we have reached a point where most of the MLL guys are making their money from the sport of lacrosse somehow. Sometimes it’s coaching, other endorsements, or running their own companies, but most of the pros are now full-time with lacrosse, and the quality of Major League Lacrosse play on the field is proof of this process. Basically, MLL is only getting better, so let’s dive in to the first preview of the year![fvplayer src=”https://youtube.com/watch?v=YCj67b9DDME” splash=”https://i.ytimg.com/vi/YCj67b9DDME/hqdefault.jpg” caption=”Major League Lacrosse: Best Moments of 2014″]
Major League Lacrosse – Big Moves
Everyone is talking about the Rabil-Seibald trade that went down this offseason, and now that Rabil is in New York, everyone is talking about the Lizards, in a good way. Of course expectations are now sky high, so this is a story line we’re sure to see more of as the season rolls on.[fvplayer src=”https://youtube.com/watch?v=zoCiPN1yNcw” splash=”https://i.ytimg.com/vi/zoCiPN1yNcw/hqdefault.jpg” caption=”Paul Rabil: The Move | Episode 2″]
But there were some other moves made in the offseason that deserve a lot more talk than they are getting. Let’s look at some of the potential game-changing trades from this last offseason…
Defenders On The Move – Veteran defenders like Kyle Sweeney and Brian Spallina have moved around. Sweeney is now in Chesapeake, and Spallina will be coached by his brother in New York. Max Schmidt was also moved, in this case out to Denver, and Joe Cinosky is now with Charlotte. Ohio picked up Brian Karalunas with a great move, and Chad Wiedmaier will now be playing in Boston. Out of all these changes, I like the Karalunas pick up by Ohio the best, but I think Spallina could really make a big difference playing back in New York.
Draft Day Impact – Later in the season, current college players will start to join their teams and if anyone “won” the draft, I’d have to give the nod to Florida. Lyle Thompson is one of those few guaranteed picks, but Kevin Rice, Tutton, Buczek, and LoCasio could all become impact players. That’s a scary good offensive draft class. Denver is probably my #2, as Berg, Pontrello, and Osello could likely pan out to be impact MLL players.
2015 Major League Lacrosse – First Impressions
I’ll go team by team and talk about what each franchise needed to improve on, and how they look at first glance for 2015. Who corrected their mistakes? It’s an early guess at best, but that’s what is fun about preseason talk!
New York Lizards – If this team doesn’t perform, many people will be shocked. The talent on offense, face off strength, great goaltending, and meaner defense should mean lots of wins. But it also means pressure. If any team in 2015 Major League Lacrosse feels the weight of massive expectations it has to be New York. With a lot of guys living locally, there is no reason this team can’t succeed, but that doesn’t mean it will happen automatically. This is THE storyline of the early season.[fvplayer src=”https://youtube.com/watch?v=kiiIH06rh2M” splash=”https://i.ytimg.com/vi/kiiIH06rh2M/hqdefault.jpg” caption=”2015 Season Preview: New York Lizards”]
Boston Cannons – A lot of the guys who we’re used to seeing in Boston are now gone, and while this team definitely has a new look, it’s not a totally reinvented franchise. The Boston D can still press and has range, goaltending is solid, they have a true ball carrier/dodger at attack, and their midfield is big and athletic. It’s a good TEAM, but the individual star power isn’t what it is on other teams. If Boston plays together they can play with anyone but if it turns into a case where we see lots of individual play, Boston could be in trouble.[fvplayer src=”https://youtube.com/watch?v=tJA0leWxbUI” splash=”https://i.ytimg.com/vi/tJA0leWxbUI/hqdefault.jpg” caption=”2015 Cannons Preview with Will Manny”]
Charlotte Hounds – The Hounds are massive on defense, and considerably smaller on attack and in the midfield, and that’s just the way they like it. Mason Poli is Charlotte’s smallest pole at 6′, but that’s ok because he could put some serious points up, and like I said, the Hounds O is a little smaller on average (I said ON AVERAGE… I’m not talking about Thul or Tripucka). Charlotte is still loaded up with Loyola guys, so look for transition when it’s there! Charlotte will do the same. The Hounds look pretty solid all around.[fvplayer src=”https://youtube.com/watch?v=I809GqJZcvE” splash=”https://i.ytimg.com/vi/I809GqJZcvE/hqdefault.jpg” caption=”2015 Hounds Preview with John Haus”]
Chesapeake Bayhawks – The Bayhawks defense has been overhauled in a pretty serious way. Matt Abbot and Nicky Polanco will continue to anchor this group, but Kyle Sweeney, CJ Costabile, Jason Noble and Brian Megill coming together creates added interest for me. It’s a veteran group, with the ability to spread and cover or press out. I like that! Offensively this is going to be an interesting year. Chesapeake has plenty of talent, but I would expect the 2 point attempts to go down again, and to see a lot more inside play from the Bayhawks, even before their NLL guys come back.[fvplayer src=”https://youtube.com/watch?v=b7bIbBSyrQI” splash=”https://i.ytimg.com/vi/b7bIbBSyrQI/hqdefault.jpg” caption=”2015 Season Preview: Chesapeake Bayhawks”]
Denver Outlaws – There are now 3 Bocklets on the Outlaws roster. That had to be said. What else has to be said about Denver? They are going to be very good… again. There are simply too many connections and way too much talent on this team for that not to happen, even as guys miss games because of NLL commitments. Denver has the ability to put up lots and lots of goals on a consistent basis, and if they can win draws and play solid D throughout the year, they could quickly emerge as the top MLL team early on.[fvplayer src=”https://youtube.com/watch?v=rbm9z2j8vp8″ splash=”https://i.ytimg.com/vi/rbm9z2j8vp8/hqdefault.jpg” caption=”2015 Outlaws Preview with Jeremy Sieverts”]
Florida Launch – Casey
Ohio Machine – The Machine are definitely looking up this year and have been on an upward trajectory since the start of last season. With an improved defensive corps, and some solid additions on O, Ohio has slowly built themselves into a good team on paper. When Jimmy Bitter arrives and 4 more middies join the team, Ohio could take another leap up on the danger meter. I would still like to see a goalie emerge there who can be a consistent game changer. It’s a lot to ask but could push the Machine to the next level quickly.[fvplayer src=”https://youtube.com/watch?v=–lOhcm0AMU” splash=”https://i.ytimg.com/vi/–lOhcm0AMU/hqdefault.jpg” caption=”2015 Machine Preview with Kyle Harrison”]
Rochester Rattlers – Rochester has a nice mix of box talent and field athletes (they also have talent) and if they can find a way to use their two-headed monster effectively on offense, they could put up better numbers. Being able to switch approches seamlessly would be a huge boost. On D, the Ratz will once again rely on Galloway to bail them out when need be and push transition. It’s not a huge group on D, but there is plenty of speed and cover ability. In a shot clock world, that can be a good thing when done right.[fvplayer src=”https://youtube.com/watch?v=0Cdp8xXbwVg” splash=”https://i.ytimg.com/vi/0Cdp8xXbwVg/hqdefault.jpg” caption=”2015 Season Preview: Rochester Rattlers”]
2015 Major League Lacrosse – Picking Winners
Ok, let’s pick some winners for this weekend’s upcoming games!
Rochester @ Charlotte – I’m going with Rochester here! It’s early and I think the Rochester attack will put away enough goals to take down Charlotte on the road.
Denver @ Boston – I’m going with Denver here and that will be the case for much of the season I think! Strong franchise, consistently wins regular season games. Easiest pick of the week.
Ohio @ New York – I’ll take the Lizards here. They want to start the Rabil era out right, and put some of the doubters to bed. I’m willing to believe in NY.
Florida and Chesapeake are both off this weekend.