2014 U.S. Open - Men's Day 2 Recap

Posted: July 4, 2014 11:43 PM

Day two at the U.S. Open is in the books, which means we’ve had six games each to see what these teams are about. At 5-1, Johnny Bravo is guaranteed to qualify for Saturday bracket play, regardless of their finish against Furious George in the morning. Ironside and Revolver, both of whom are 4-2, are also likely to advance. All eyes, then, will turn to Sockeye, who is 4-2, against Sub Zero, who is 3-3. Winner advances, loser goes home.

With that, let’s take stock of the five teams still in contention. 

Johnny Bravo

The men’s division’s easiest narrative starts with asking whether or not Bravo will be ultimate’s 2011 Miami Heat. But for discussion’s sake, let’s move past wondering whether or not Bravo will come together and instead ask how they’ll do it.

A good place to start is with field spacing. While Bravo has gotten the job done against everyone but Sockeye so far, it hasn’t been all that pretty, with cutters clogging each other’s lanes and difficult break throws being necessary to keep the disc alive. Bravo coach Bob Krier is confident that the wrinkles are a result of players’ unfamiliarity with one another rather than selfishness, and he looks forward to closing the gap between how hard players cut versus how hard they clear in the lead up to Worlds. "Our results show that we can bring in talented guys and not have to manage personalities because they’re in it for the greater good of the team," said Krier. "Now we can do more at practices."

Kurt Gibson’s take on the team backs up Krier’s assuredness. "Everybody on this team is so committed to the system that if you talk to a couple guys that give you tips here and there and do what they tell you to do, it works really well," said Gibson. "In every team, you’ve got guys that play roles, and it requires everybody fulfilling their role to be successful. That goes for me, and it goes for everybody on the team too."


Ironside’s offense struggled against Sockeye, getting broken three times in the first half. And while the team was much cleaner against Revolver – they were only broken once – coach Josh McCarthy said their way of resetting the disc can be problematic.

"On their resets," McCarthy said of Revolver, they have Robbie [Cahill, who uses a quick first step to get separation from defenders]. They’re a little more reliable on just, boom, getting open. For us, Frogger (Jacob Taylor) and Muffin (Brandon Malacek) are a little less that way. We rely more on breaking the mark."

Still, only getting broken once by Revolver? Not bad.

"We’re definitely improving," said McCarthy. "We’ve also only been playing with seven or eight guys on offense because [Alex] Kapinos, [Will] Neff and [Matt] Rebholz are out. Those are key contributors who I can sub in. Frogger just went to the airport for a wedding, so we’ll be a little shorthanded tomorrow. We’ll make due."


"We strive to play boring ultimate from the outside, and hopefully people think we do that," said Revolver coach Mike Payne. He’s right. Even on the Fourth, Revolver isn’t the fireworks type: they only huck to cutters who are isolated and have separation (or for whom it’s a guarantee… Beau…); opponents rarely get open by more than a step or two; and even when they’re dominating teams, you get the sense they punched a timecard before tying their cleats.

Above all, one thing is certain about Revolver’s approach over the long haul: it works. "If you have to make spectacular plays," Payne said, "I think you’re not playing well on the basics."

Revolver’s philosophy boils down to improving after every game and keeping their eyes on Worlds and Nationals. According to Payne, the team is positioned well for the rest of the tournament.

"Last year at the U.S. Open, we lost to Boston by one in pool play, and then we beat them by one in the finals. Hopefully we’ll have the same result." With that, Payne smiled and tacked on an addition. "Maybe by a little bit bigger of a margin tomorrow."


Sockeye moves down the field with a unique fluidity that’s really, really fun to watch. The key to Sockeye’s offense is that they’re willing to reset the disc by any means necessary, whether it’s a push pass over the mark, a two-yard shovel to a cut that other teams would call dancing, or a 20-yard up-line throw that bends around the defender. This frees Sockeye’s handler corps, which is led by Danny Karlinsky – the same guy who led Sockeye to last year’s National Championship final without throwing a single turnover all tournament – to either move the disc at breakneck speed or scan the field for longer than usual because they know a dump will be available.

Zooming out, Sockeye’s offense is the reflection of a team that has both a ton of chemistry and a willingness to adapt to whatever competitive scenario it faces.

"There’s definitely a chip on our shoulders," said Matt Rehder, the one-time high school phenom who shocked the ultimate world when he made Sockeye as a 16-year-old. Now a veteran, Rehder’s cool intensity is a rock for the team. "I want to come back every game and beat everybody."

Sub Zero

Sub Zero’s average age is just shy of 25, and they play a fast, hard-working, fundamental brand of ultimate. It wouldn’t be off base to describe the team as a young version of Revolver or Ironside. These are all good things except for when that "young version" part of the equation shows its ugly head in the form of a high-release swing that gets popped up in the wind or as a blade that doesn’t get caught.

In other words, Sub Zero has looked very sharp…most of the time. They traded to 10-10 with Ironside in the first round of the tournament, went into half down only one break against Revolver the next, and got to 9-8 against Bravo in the last of the day. If their offense is a bit more conservative and their defense converts a few more break chances, Sub Zero will have a real shot against Sockeye.

"That’s what really separated our results today and yesterday," said Sub captain Grant Lindsley of his team’s struggle to convert breaks. "We got turns on Revolver, more than they got on us, but they converted more of them. I think their conversion rate must have been 80 percent or above. They really took advantage of our turns."

Furious George, Clapham, EVOLUTION

All three of the tournament’s international teams are mathematically eliminated from contention, but that doesn’t mean the tournament was a waste. In Furious’ case, a key goal coming in was to do well enough to earn the Northwest Region a strength bid to the National Championships. While it’s still early, the win over Sockeye and close games against Ironside and Revolver could do the trick.

For EVOLUTION, the U.S. Open has been the learning experience they hoped for. "American ultimate is very intense," said EVOLUTION captain Mauricio Moore. "There’s things you have to learn that you don’t know before you come here. You have to come learn them and improve and come back again."

Furthermore, Moore said, EVOLUTION’s exposure to a higher level of play will raise the bar for Colombian players who didn’t make the trip. "The whole community feels it when you come back," he said. "Our team is going to have a lot of energy, and this is something we’re going to share and spread."


2014 - US Open - Day 2 Highlights - Images by CBMT creative


Images by UltiPhotos


U.S. Open Championships Event Page

Event Guide (PDF)


Men's Game Schedule

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