Week 1 Matchups Preview

Thursday, April 27
By Sam Weiger

Games listed in chronological order. All times listed in Eastern Standard Time (EST). Watch every game live at watch.AUDL.tv

Seattle Cascades at Salt Lake Shred
Friday, April 28 - 10:00 PM/ET - Watch link 

We head out west for the first AUDL game of the season. Seattle and Salt Lake will face off in a divisional matchup, and the Shred are the heavy favorites. Salt Lake, who led the league in goals last year, takes on a Seattle team with a couple of noteworthy new faces.

The ‘Scades regained Seattle native Khalif El-Salaam and added 2021 All-Rookie selection Garrett Martin. El-Salaam, who has played for three different AUDL teams, had his best results in Seattle. The Shred bolstered their roster with the additions of Elijah Jaime and Grant Lindsley. Jaime is a prolific scorer who will add another dimension to Salt Lake’s offense, while Lindsley is a two-time AUDL champion who brings valuable postseason experience.

Seattle came close to defeating Salt Lake last season at Memorial Stadium, but the ‘Scades will have to deal with a home field disadvantage this time around. Seattle will also need to play a clean offensive game, because Salt Lake is a team that can force turnovers.

One Big Number
12.29 - The Shred led the AUDL in blocks per game last year with 12.29.
5 - Seattle opened and closed the 2022 season with five-game losing streaks.

Seattle Cascades at Oakland Spiders
Saturday, April 29 - 5:00 PM/ET - Watch link

The ‘Scades will face Oakland the day after their opening game against Salt Lake. another offensive beast in Oakland. The Spiders, who led the league last season in completions per game, will be looking to take advantage of a tired Seattle team that will have little time to prepare.

Unfortunately for Seattle, the combination of the matchup and the circumstances does not bode well for their chances. Oakland’s fast-paced offense, which averaged almost 22 goals per game last year, added even more offensive firepower by acquiring Mac Hecht and Jacob Smith over the offseason. Current Spiders Chris Lung, Justin Norden, Keenan Laurence, and Evan Magsig already put up solid offensive numbers, so Oakland could have a field day against turnover-prone Seattle. 

While Oakland’s defense may be lacking, Seattle’s offense is average at best. Oakland won both meetings between the two teams last year, and they are the favorites to win their next meeting.

One Big Number
36 - The Spiders’ high-scoring offense scored a season-high 36 goals against Portland in Week 9 last year.
96 - Kenny Lane III completed 96 throws compared to just two throwaways in two starts against the Spiders last season.

DC Breeze at Carolina Flyers | Game Of The Week
Saturday, April 29 - 6:00 PM/ET - Watch link

DC and Carolina are expected to be great this season. Both teams will look very different than they did last year. The Breeze added a handful of important offensive players in the offseason, while the Flyers replaced some key players who left the team.

DC added Thomas Edmonds, Cole Jurek, Gus Norrbom, and Andrew Roy. The Breeze are clearly out for revenge after losing to the Empire in the playoffs last year on a buzzer-beater. The Flyers lost several valuable players, but they did add Liam Searles-Bohs, Ben Snell, and Joe White.

Rowan McDonnell would have had a mouthwatering matchup with Carolina’s Eric Taylor, but the 2022 All-AUDL selection Taylor is sidelined indefinitely with an injury. These two hybrids could decide the outcome of the game, which could very well come down to a last-second goal or block. DC and Carolina have met five times, and three of those games have been decided by one goal.

One Big Number
3 - The Breeze lost all three of their games last season and postseason to the Empire.
63.74 - Carolina’s O-Line conversion percentage of 63.74 percent was second best in the AUDL last year.

Madison Radicals at Pittsburgh Thunderbirds
Saturday, April 29 - 6:00 PM/ET - Watch link

Pittsburgh will be looking to erase the memory of last year’s heartbreaking home loss to Madison. The Radicals won with a jaw-dropping layout grab in the final ten seconds of the game.

That nail-biting defensive battle last year should be a sign of things to come in this meeting. The Radicals and Thunderbirds both finished last season in the top five in goals against. The Radicals will shift Kevin Pettit-Scantling and Sterling Knoche back to defensive roles, which should help the team generate more takeaways this year. 

Despite the additions of Dylan Best, Jonathan Mast, and Alex Thomas, Pittsburgh will still need to prove themselves against Madison. The Radicals have won 13 games in the last two seasons, while the T-birds have only won five.

One Big Number
0 - The Radicals did not lose any games against under-500 teams in 2022.
54 - Pittsburgh’s huck percentage in 2022, 54 percent, was second-worst in the AUDL.

Philadelphia Phoenix at New York Empire
Saturday, April 29 - 7:00 PM/ET - Watch link

The New York Empire, the defending AUDL champions, will be the team to watch in Week 1. Led by 2022 MVP Ryan Osgar, the Empire have a deep roster and dynamic offense. New York’s offense will be put to the test against Philadelphia’s up-and-coming defense. 

Can Osgar continue the unprecedented success that he had last season? Osgar tallied career high numbers in assists, plus/minus, completion percentage and completions. Osgar’s world-class play was a big reason that the Empire had its second undefeated season in the last three seasons. 

New York’s offensive depth will put pressure on Philadelphia’s defense. Going up against Osgar, Jeff Babbitt and Jack Williams at once is no easy task. 23-year-old Philadelphia cutter Paul Owens, one of the best defensive players in 2022, will have an intriguing matchup with Williams.

One Big Number
364 - The Empire led the league in 2022 with 364 scores.
10 - The Phoenix were the only team to average 10 or more hucks per game last year.

Indianapolis AlleyCats at Atlanta Hustle
Saturday, April 29 - 7:30 PM/ET - Watch link

Both teams will be highly motivated in this interdivisional matchup. Indianapolis will be looking to avenge a close defeat to Atlanta last season, while Atlanta will be looking to make amends for missing last year’s playoffs. 

Expect Atlanta to frequently use its league-best deep attack, led by Austin Taylor. Taylor has thrown more hucks than any other AUDL player over the last two seasons. Last season, Taylor and Bobby Ley spearheaded Atlanta’s league-leading huck percentage. 

Additional stats from last year indicate that the ‘Cats are facing an uphill battle against the Hustle. In 2022, Indy had the fourth fewest takeaways per game, while Atlanta had the fewest turnovers. The AlleyCats also allowed the fourth most scores against last season, and they did not have any significant defensive acquisitions this offseason. A flipping of the script would be quite a surprise.

One Big Number
86 - The Hustle allowed just 86 blocks to their opponents last season, the fewest of any team in the league.
59 - ‘Cats cutter Cameron Brock led the league in goals scored in 2022 with 59.

Austin Sol at Houston Havoc
Saturday, April 29 - 8:00 PM/ET - Watch link

Welcome to the AUDL, Houston! Facing Austin in their first game as a franchise feels like a “deer in the headlights” experience, but Texas rivalries always make things interesting. The Sol, who have a good chance of qualifying for Championship Weekend in 2023, will look to utilize the efficient Evans-Henke-Swiatek trio and continue their high red zone conversion percentage.

With their offense already in good shape, the Sol decided to focus on improving their defense this offseason. Austin acquired Shane Worthington, who holds the record for most blocks in a regular season by any Seattle Cascades player in history. Houston’s roster features several former Sol players, including Matt Bennett, Ben LewisJake Worthington, and Jimmy Zuraw. The Sol alumni will have inside knowledge of Austin’s plays and strategies.

Surprisingly, all of the 2022 expansion teams won their opening games. Austin Head Coach Steven Naji, the 2022 AUDL Coach of the Year, should be able to break the streak and get a victory this week.

One Big Number
7 - The Houston Havoc have 7 former Austin Sol players.
88.6 - Austin had a red zone conversion percentage of 88.6 percent in Texas rivalry matchups last season.