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MLL: Denver Outlaws at Atlanta Blaze Photo Credit: Brett Davis 2018 MLL Schedule
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Dividing 2018 MLL Schedule into Five Seasons

Last week, the 2018 MLL schedule officially dropped. This is exciting news for some, others not so much. In reality, a nine team league releasing a schedule isn’t like a college team releasing theirs, because you know who they’re playing.

But, the fact that everyone plays everyone is not what we look for when the MLL schedule comes out. There are plenty of little nuggets that need to be sorted through. So Let’s take a look!

2018 MLL Schedule

The first thing I always look for is when the entire MLL season starts. The ever-changing start date can, and will, affect the rosters. Several coaches and GMs do the same thing. When you look at how much change the additional waves of players make, it basically means some teams end up with 3 different seasons. Some have 4. Others don’t care. I care, and this is a basic breakdown.

Season 1: Opening Day rosters. Who comes to camps and who is suiting up in that first game.
Season 2: NLL Players (Wave 1)
Season 3: NLL Players and College Coaches (Wave 2)
Season 4: College Players
Season 5: All Players

Season 1

April 21st marks the first day of the MLL season, and we’ll have three games to check out. Denver starts on the road in New York, Boston will be down in Charlotte, and Dallas starts by visiting Chesapeake.

Those all take place on Saturday, and Florida plays the next day just a hike north to Atlanta.

The early Sunday games are a big wildcard for roster availability. Most NCAA games are happening on Friday or Saturday. The Big Ten has made later Sunday games a more regular occurrence, but for players who are either head or assistant NCAA coaches, having an MLL game the day after your NCAA duties is big.

Matt Danowski comes to mind as someone who has been able to take advantage of this in the past.
The big note for opening weekend is that the defending champs, Ohio, have the first week bye. With several players tabbed for the NLL, this is a very good thing for them.

May 7, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Charlotte Hounds @ Denver Outlaws at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Photography Credit: Ron Chenoy
Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy

Season 2

The NLL regular season ends on April 29th in the same way it starts: The Georgia Swarm up in New England. There are four other games on the 28th, which means every team will know where they stand at the end of that weekend, and several will be packing up shop.

Now, if anyone not with New England or Georgia finishes their season on the 28th, could they play in the one of the two MLL games on the 29th (Denver at Dallas and New York at Ohio)?

Yes. It’s happened before, but it’s not very likely. So, plan on Season 2 officially kicking off the weekend of May 3rd.

By that point, Ohio is in the best shape after having played only one game. With the NLL going back to a single elimination playoff format in the divisional rounds, more players will be available to their teams sooner. After only two weeks, all but two NLL teams will have their players available to the MLL.

Season 3

After the first few rounds of playoffs in the NLL, the college season will have reach the end of the conference regular season and conference tournaments. That means plenty of college coaches will become available.

Assuming the MLL sticks with their Memorial Day draft again, the players’ availability still will not matter yet.

Season 4

This is after Memorial Day when all the college players will be available to join their teams as well as their coaches. If the NLL finals are a two game sweep, add in the NLL players here, too. That would eliminate this whole season 5 nonsense. If it is not a sweep.

Fast forward a week and add Season 5. This is actually the most exciting time because while rosters are by no means cemented at this point, you start seeing which rookies are able to crack the roster and who will make an immediate impact.

Like Florida last year, who used this time as a launching pad for the playoff run. Get it? Launching pad….nevermind.

Myles Jones Chesapeake Bayhawks New York Lizards MLL 2017
Photo Credit: Jermain Rangasammy

The Rest

A big time on the calendar to look at will also be during the FIL Championships in Israel. These are during the MLL season, and while the league gives teams a one week break, they will be holding games while a sizable chunk of players are over in Israel competing for gold.

Are there factors behind the scenes that just don’t allow the season to be pushed out one extra week to accommodate the World Games? Probably. But, for many fans and players, this is not an ideal situation.

One thing I do love about the schedule is that Dallas’ first home game will be hosting the Outlaws. This is kind of the natural rivalry that they want to build for the Rattlers. It also really helps new fans, as one of the teams they were able to go see last year in the Championship will make learning their new team a little easier. Rather than two teams you have never seen before, it’s only one.

Also, as Ryan Flanagan pointed out shortly after the schedule was released:

The number of Thursday games were reduced. While times are not listed, hopefully we also avoid a situation like last year’s Thursday afternoon Lizards game that just sort of happened without anyone noticing. A daytime weekday game was an odd one, to say the least.

Then again, the Cannons and Bayhawks square off on Monday, July 2nd and the 2018 MLL All-Star Game is scheduled for Thursday, June 28th, while two games are scheduled for Saturday the 30th. It’s just a little weird, right?

My final notes regarding this schedule is who falls short on the not-quite-round-robin 14 games in a 9 team league format:

  • Denver plays Boston once, and at home for the July 4th game.
  • New York will not be hosting Dallas.
  • Dallas, on the other hand, will not be hosting Chesapeake.
  • The Bayhawks will be not have the Launch stopping by.
  • Florida will visit the Hounds, but are not going to return the favor.
  • Charlotte will not have New York stopping down.
  • Denver is not having the Blaze stop by.
  • Atlanta is showing no southern hospitality towards Ohio.
  • Ohio will not have the Cannons into Fortress Field, but will end the season in Bean Town.

Which one of those scenarios leave you bummed? I don’t get to see the Outlaws in Boston this year, so that’s my personal bummer. Let me know in the comments what you think of the 2018 MLL Schedule.

Also, make sure to add our Lacrosse TV Schedule to your desktop and mobile device calendars for dates/times, alerts, and updates on when and where to watch lacrosse in 2018!