By Aly Morrissey | 4/26/12 3:12 PM
OUTLAWS at HOUNDS
Saturday, April 28 7PM
American Legion Memorial Stadium
Watch & Follow: ESPN3, Altitude (ALT2), WMYT, Live Blog
The Big Picture: The expansion Charlotte Hounds will host the Denver Outlaws in their inaugural MLL game this Saturday. The Outlaws were 7-5 last season and advanced to the 2011 MLL Championship Weekend but fell short to the Hamilton Nationals in the first semi-final. The Outlaws have the advantage in experience but the Hounds have been able to construct a roster that's competitive on paper.
Charlotte Hounds: While the Hounds are new in 2012, their roster boasts a mix of veteran star power and rising talent, including a potent attack unit comprised of Matt Danowski, Billy Bitter and Jeremy Boltus. The Hounds broke onto the scene with strong grassroots marketing initiatives and became the fourth professional sports team in history to let the fans name the team through democratic vote. After establishing a solid fan base in the Carolinas, the team began building its roster throughout the MLL off-season.
The Hounds acquired several notable players before the MLL drafts to get a head start on compiling talented players who were “MLL ready,” according to Head Coach Mike Cerino. They acquired Ryan Flanagan from the Hamilton Nationals in exchange for Expansion and Supplemental Draft picks. They kept the momentum going by acquiring Billy Bitter and Brett Schmidt from the Denver Outlaws in exchange for Expansion and Collegiate draft picks. On December 7, 2011 the Hounds announced a blockbuster trade with the Long Island Lizards that would set them up as contenders for the 2012 Steinfeld Trophy. In it, the Hounds acquired attackman Matt Danowski and midfielder Stephen Berger in exchange for the No. 1 overall selection in the MLL Collegiate Draft.
Key Additions: Matt Danowski, Stephen Berger, Jeremy Boltus, Billy Bitter, Brett Schmidt, Jovan Miller
Denver Outlaws: During the off-season, most MLL teams made big changes and Denver was no exception. With new General Manager Tony Seaman and Head Coach Jim Stagnitta (formerly of Rutgers), the Outlaws seem to be heading in the right direction. The team will feature familiar faces in attackman Brendan Mundorf and goalie Jesse Schwartzman, but will miss the likes of Drew Westervelt who was traded to the Chesapeake Bayhawks this off-season, and midfielder Max Seibald who was traded to the Long Island Lizards.
Denver has posted the league’s best record since its inaugural season in 2006. The team is 49-23 (.681) in the regular season during that span. Keep an eye on attackman Brendan Mundorf, who finished near the top of the leaderboard in several offensive categories last season and earned a spot on the All-MLL Team. All eyes will be on goalie Jesse Schwartzman who set a new single-season record last year, allowing a goals against average of just 9.87. Prior to the 2011 season, no goalie registered a goals against average below 11.
Key Additions: Curtis Dickson, Chris Bocklet (2012 Draftee), Mark Matthews (2012 Draftee)
Key Losses: Max Seibald, Drew Westervelt, Billy Bitter, Brett Schmidt, Joe Cinosky
Next Match-up: The Hounds will face the Outlaws next on Saturday, July 14 at 7pm (MT)/9pm (ET) at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colo.
MLL Analyst and host of Inside the MLL Evan Washburn takes a team-by-team look at each MLL team and shares his predictions for this year's top contenders for the Steinfeld Trophy. Read More