Crucial Weekend for Cleveland, Detroit

The 2022-23 MLIS season is 12 games of intradivisional play so every game is important, but with a pair of games each this weekend, the teams at the top and bottom of the Eastern Division have a chance to radically affect the balance of power. The two games will also push both teams past the halfway mark of their schedules.

A pair of wins by Cleveland would put the Crunch 3 1/2 games ahead of Cincinnati and as many as five games ahead of Detroit with five games left. Conversely, a pair of Waza Flo victories could pull them within one game of first place and would reinvigorate their season.

Saturday, February 11

Wichita Selection (2-1) at Austin Emerald (0-5)
Season Series: First meeting

Wichita is just a half game out of first place despite not having the benefit of playing the 0-5 Emerald, who account for five of Springfield and Houston's nine wins. In order to keep pace, the Selection are going to want to take care of business against a struggling opponent, but Austin would like nothing better than to play spoiler, especially at home.

Radley Arnold is third in MLIS with 3.7 points a game (seven goals and four assists in three games), while Austin has been outscored by 56 goals in five games.

Detroit Waza Flo (1-4) at Rapid City FC (3-2)
Season Series: Rapid City leads, 1-0

Before Detroit can entertain a weekend sweep and an upset of Cleveland, they need to beat Grand Rapids. Their first meeting was a close 5-3 Rapid City win in Detroit.

Grand Rapids is led by Nermin Crnkic with 11 points in five games. Jacob Potts (nine goals in four games) and Lito Esquivel (eight points in three games) are right behind. Detroit is only averaging 3.8 goals per game, but Silas Rustin is coming off a four-point game in the Waza Flo's most recent outing.

Cincinnati Swerve (2-3) at Cleveland Crunch (4-1)
Season Series: Cincinnati leads, 1-0

The Swerve's 9-8 win over Cleveland on December 10 altered expectations for both Eastern Division teams. Since then, though, the Swerve have had their struggles and Cleveland has won four straight. The Crunch are 13-0 at home in the regular season since this iteration returned in 2020.

Michael Derezic missed the Crunch's first three games, but returned to record six points in his first two games. Admir Suljevic is second in MLIS with 19 points and Ryan Minick is second on the team with 14 points. Andrej Novakovic leads the Swerve with eight points.

Sunday, February 12

Wichita Selection at Houston Bolt (4-2)
Season Series: First meeting

Wichita's slow-rolling schedule had them playing only three games the first two-plus months of the season, and they were all against Springfield, but the rest of the way they will be playing more frequently. This will be Wichita's second game in two days and four of their next five games are against Houston, so these teams are about to become intimately acquainted.

Houston's Lucio Martinez is coming off a league-record-tying five goal game against Austin. Martinez and Jeminson Mejia are tied for fourth in MLIS with 17 points apiece. 

Cleveland Crunch at Detroit Waza Flo
Season Series: Cleveland leads, 2-0

This is the third meeting between these teams. Cleveland won a relatively close 7-4 game in Detroit earlier this season, but the Waza Flo never really threatened the Crunch in that game. On January 29, the Crunch rolled over a short-handed Waza Flo squad 8-0 in Cleveland.