Record Nine Games to Decide Playoff Races

Two of five MLIS playoff spots have been accounted for, but by the time the dust settles on Sunday from this weekend's action, the entire playoff field will be set. With games starting on Friday, this weekend promises a season-high nine games. In an interesting quirk, each game features a playoff (or potential playoff) team against a team who has already been eliminated, which means it's Spoiler Week!

Friday, March 17

Cincinnati Swerve (3-6) at Rapid City FC (8-2)
Season Series: Grand Rapids leads, 3-0

With their magic number to clinch the Eastern Division at two, Rapid City can get halfway there with a win over the Cincinnati Swerve. Grand Rapids has outscored Cincinnati 30-8 in three games this year and Rapid City has taken the MLIS lead in goals per game with 10.7. Nermin Crnkic and TJ Ifaturoti lead a group of 14 players averaging more than one point per game, though Crnkic is the only Grand Rapids player to have appeared in all 10 games this season.

Saturday, March 18

Brew City United (0-8) at Omaha Kings (9-1)
Season Series: Omaha leads, 2-0

The Omaha Kings will close out their home schedule by hosting the winless Brew City United. Omaha is 4-0 at home and has beaten Milwaukee 8-0 and 17-3 this year. Manuel Lira leads MLIS in goals (27) and points (46). In fact, Lira's 27 goals are one less than Milwaukee's 28 total team goals.

Detroit Waza Flo (1-8) at Cleveland Crunch (7-3)
Season Series: Cleveland leads, 3-0

Another Cleveland Crunch win would give them an almost impossible goal differential lead over the Wichita Selection for a wild card berth. Two wins would clinch outright. Two Crunch wins and one Rapid City FC loss would give Cleveland the Eastern Division title. The Detroit Waza Flo come in as prohibitive underdogs. Cleveland has nine players with more points than Detroit's Constantino Wells, who leads the Waza Flo with eight points, including Admir Suljevic, who is second in MLIS with 35 points.

Austin Emerald (0-10) at Wichita Selection (6-4)
Season Series: Wichita leads, 2-0

This is the first of two straight home games against the Austin Emerald and, though the Wichita Selection can't control what the Cleveland Crunch and Chicago Mustangs do, playoffs or not, an 8-4 season would be a good first MLIS season for Wichita. The last thing Wichita wants to do is give the 0-10 Emerald their first win. Wichita's Radley Arnold is second in MLIS with 25 goals, just two back of Manuel Lira, giving Selection another goal to accomplish over the last two games of the season.

Chicago Mustangs (7--3) at Illinois State Line Falcons (2-6)
Season Series: Chicago leads, 2-0

Things get less confusing, playoffs-wise, if the Chicago Mustangs win their last two games. The Illinois State Line Falcons are 0-6 against Omaha and Chicago, but the Falcons are young and improving and Omar Santillan (nine points in three games) and Hebert Efrain Alferez (13 points in four games) have provided veteran support. Rockford has rising stars like 21-year old Damian Bolanos and 19-year old Johnny Leon. Chicago had won five in a row before falling 5-3 in Omaha last weekend. Michael Marchionna (20 points) and Luis Batalla (18 points) lead the Mustangs offense.

Sunday, March 19

Austin Emerald at Wichita Selection

Round two.

Detroit Waza Flo at Rapid City FC
Season Series: Grand Rapids leads, 3-0

Detroit completes their road schedule by returning to the scene of the crime. Detroit were victims of a 27-4 drubbing last time they visited MSA Sports Spot. Grand Rapids will try to complete a season sweep of their intrastate rivals.

Cincinnati Swerve at Cleveland Crunch
Season Series: Cleveland leads, 2-1

Another intrastate matchup, Cincinnati is the only Spoiler Week underdog who has beaten their playoff caliber opponent this year. Cincinnati will have scoring sensation Fin Sallows back and has added his brother Brodie Sallows.

Illinois State Line Falcons at Chicago Mustangs

Round two!