Last Saturday, the San Francisco Dogfish defeated the Seattle Rainmakers 18-16 in the season opener in San Francisco. Can they repeat their feat on the road tomorrow?

The Dogfish and Rainmakers are fairly evenly matched on paper, and traded points regularly last week with small point runs by both teams. But both teams were also plagued by offensive missteps that may have to do with the effect of wind, nerves and familiarity with new teammates. Most of those factors will be less in play in this Saturday’s game. Instead, how well they can readjust roles on the field may determine the outcome of this game.

Last weekend the Dogfish core kept the ship steady, while the newer players got their feet wet and showed the enthusiasm and athleticism that landed them on the roster. This week the rookies will need to rise to the occasion, because veteran stalwarts Tyler Grant, Jordan Jeffery and Mac Taylor are inactive, and Drew Kim is out again with a toe injury. In addition, newcomers Taylor Cascino, a nice addition to the offense, and Kohji Sugioka, who had bright moments on defense and offense last week, are also inactive this week. That puts pressure on team captain Evan Boucher to anchor the squad while inspiring first-season players to greatness.

For parity, the Rainmakers have seven inactive players this week, including player and co-coach Mario O’Brien and last weekend’s go-to, Sam Harkness. The Rainmakers overthrew their receivers a lot last Saturday, and put up some hard-to-read blades. Their offense may be aided this weekend by less windy conditions. They would also do themselves a favor by focusing on disc possession rather than the two-pass-then-huck offense so anticipated by the hungry Dogfish defense. In their brightest moments of offensive control, the Rainmakers’ cross-field flow caught the Dogfish on their heels.

Last week Dogfish Head Coach Justin Safdie noted, “Playing the Rainmakers next weekend, we will need to adjust better to their handler movement. They gained a lot of yards through those guys.”

Look for both teams to push things a bit in their quest to best the other. As long as the Dogfish keep up their intimidating defense and convert their turnovers, they can stop feeding into the Rainmakers’ rhythm and play the game they perfected last season.

That’s not to say San Francisco doesn’t face a challenge–they’re down players and away from home. But they triumphed in similar situations last season. Besides, after the Vancouver Nighthawks lost to the Portland Stags last weekend (MLU preseason projections put them at first and fourth in the west, respectively), all four teams are seeing that it’s anybody’s game at this point. Fans should anticipate an exciting showdown between the Dogfish and the Rainmakers, because the opportunities to top the Western Conference narrow quickly from here.

The game starts at 7:00 p.m. at Renton Memorial Stadium. Are you going to be in the Seattle area to cheer the Dogfish on to another victory? Buy your tickets here.

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