MLS Regular Season
After a seemingly never-ending offseason, the curtain finally came up on the 2015 MLS season this week with fans across North America flocking to support their favourite teams.
What did the media make of the action on and off the field? Here’s a selection of press reports covering the ‘Caps and the rest of MLS.
New Boys - An amazing 62,510 fans crammed inside the Citrus Bowl on Sunday to see MLS newboys Orlando City SC and New York City FC go toe-to-toe for the first time. There was no shortage of incident in the match, which suitably ended with a dramatic stoppage time equalizer from Brazilian midfielder Kaka.
Cascadia - The ‘Caps Cascadia rivals both made positive starts to their seasons with Seattle Sounders FC securing a 3-0 win over New England Revolution and the Timbers landing a 0-0 draw with RSL.
Metro News – “…the first game is not indicative of the rest of the season to come” stated Ryan Lehal in the Metro.
Vancouver Sun – The Sun’s Russell Berrisford looked back to last season’s curtain raisers for some perspective. “Last season Toronto beat Seattle in Seattle in the opening game of the season and everybody assumed it was a sign of things to come as TFC’s new Designated Player (Jermaine Defoe in this particular case) was the difference maker. Instead Toronto went on to carry being Toronto and Seattle went on the win the Supporters’ Shield, so anything we take from Saturday’s game should be viewed through the prism of that reality.”
Arguably this time period is the hardest for fantasy managers. Nine teams are on a bye this week and the following week there are four teams on double games, two of those are currently on a bye. If that's not hard enough to plan, throw in a host of players on international duty to add to the brutality. No doubt some people will consider using their wildcard this week, but we advise against it. In our opinion, it’s a waste to use your wildcard to obtain players on only ten of the nineteen teams playing this week.
Will Johnson ($8.5m), Portland Timbers – Timbers are third in the Western Conference with a lot of the credit due to this man. Having Johnson in your lineup is a very smart play as it fulfills your depleted roster this round due to all the teams on byes and the following round he has a double game week. With his demand going up next week, getting him early will help protect from the price increase.
Andy O'Brien ($5.0m), Vancouver Whitecaps – Like Johnson, this is a planning pick as the Whitecaps have a double game week next round. The ‘Caps are coming off a very crucial win over a strong New York Red Bulls side. They head south to Seattle to face the Sounders who are off to the second best start in franchise history. While it's unsure what kind of team Seattle will dress with the amount of players out due to international week, injuries and suspensions. The one thing we are confident on, Mr. O'Brien netting us at least four fantasy points.
Team of the week (Round 15), New England Revolution – Fresh off the absolute dismantling of the LA Galaxy, the Revs at home face the worst team in the league in D.C. United. Ben Olsen’s D.C. team has scored a meager six goals through thirteen games this season, while New England has only conceded nine in the same amount of matches. A great numbers match up for New England defensively.
Bobby Shuttleworth ($5.1m) has had a very good season in net with the help of his defenders and for this week and perhaps next he's your guy. Keep in mind though that if you're looking for a keeper for the long haul wait until after Round 19, as 17 and 19 are bye weeks for the Revolution.
When Revolution’s defense is rolling the way it is, you might as well close your eyes when picking a defender, they're just that good. We prefer the bargain Stephen McCarthy ($4.8m) but if you've got spare money then easily take Jose Goncalves ($6.3m) who is very consistent with his bonuses.
Up top, teen sensation (and our captain) Diego Fagundez ($6.1m) is taking the MLS by storm. Scoring four goals in as many games and throwing in two assists versus the Galaxy, he's a lock for anyone's team.
That’s it for this week, as always good luck in Round 15 Fantasy Managers and let’s keep the Whitecaps Fantasy League one of the highest ranked in MLS!
For more information on prizing and how to sign up for the Official Whitecaps Fantasy League click: HERE
Some tough choices with so many quality players on international duty, and approximately thirteen different teams on bye weeks over the next three rounds. The best managers will look ahead over the next three weeks and know exactly who they are picking and dropping and when. In this week’s article we help shed some light on those hard choices.
Obafemi Martins ($9.7m), Seattle Sounders – With Eddie Johnson ($9.7m) missing the next 2 weeks, Martins (our captain this week) is a lock for some quality time. Seattle faces a bye week in Round 16, that's when we will be swapping Martins for Marco Di Vaio ($8.8m) as Montreal will be on a double game week. Seattle take on two favorable opponents in Chivas USA and Vancouver Whitecaps to help overcome that shellacking they received from LA Galaxy.
Diego Fagundez ($6.0m) New England Revolution – Three goals in as many games, four goals in six games and only $6m? Yes please! The midfielder who's listed as a forward in the game is a bargain buy. He may not score against the Galaxy this week, but he won’t be missing a game until Revolution's round 17 bye week. Round 15 and 16 he faces great opponents in D.C. United and Vancouver Whitecaps.
Hard Choices (Round 14):
Graham Zusi ($10.2m) Sporting Kansas City – With International duty and bye weeks Zusi won't see action until week 17. We've sold the best player in the game, as his $10.2m price tag is bound to drop and is not worth holding on whatsoever, we'll plan to be picking him up round 17 at under $10m.
Mike Magee ($8.8m) Chicago Fire – Mike Magee is finally back home. While the story is nice, we're very hesitant to jump on him. Coming off an injury Magee needs to score goals to get points as he isn't a playmaker, zero assists and he hasn't even picked up a key pass since Round 5. Granted, he is playing at home against D.C. United so he's worth the risk, but don't be surprised if he struggles.
Marco Di Vaio ($8.8m) Montreal Impact – He's the hottest player in the game but we're holding off him until his double header week in Round 16. As we don't like his match up away against Kansas City this round and want to avoid his bye week in Round 15. But he'll be our captain in week 16, that's for sure.
For more information on prizing and how to sign up for the Official Whitecaps Fantasy League click: HERE
Well Fantasy Managers Round 11 was a big week of footy now, wasn't it? I hope your teams brought in a trailer load of points as the average team haul was 75, but there's no time to relax now! We have another important week with the LA Galaxy and the Philadelphia Union playing double headers. Our Fantasy Forecast today will touch on both.
Amobi Okugo ($7.1m), Philadelphia Union – Could the Union lose both their games? Yes. Are we worried about that? No! One thing Okugo has going for him, is consistency; over the last ten games, he's averaged 5.3pts per game. As a defender who's listed as a midfielder Okugo benefits from collecting balls at the back and scores many defensive bonus points. We expect a solid 10 point haul this week. Great value!!
Raymon Gaddis ($5.0m), Philadelphia Union – One of Philadelphia's opponents this week are the Chicago Fire who the Union just defeated on the road 1-0. The Fire has struggled this season and has only scored 6 goals in 7 games. Normally I'd never recommend a Union defender but since it's a double game week it's worth the gamble. I much rather have Jeff Parke ($4.8m) but he's still questionable with an injury. If he becomes healthy go with Parke, if not take a shot with Gaddis, as he should be a starter regardless of who is returning from injuries.
Team of the week (Round 12), LA Galaxy – Easy choice this week! Los Angeles is the better of the two teams with double headers this week. Picking up Galaxy players at this time will prove to be not only a smart decision for this week but could be a savvy play for the remainder of the season. The Galaxy started slow to this season and have been rather up and down of late, but we're confident that with the talent they have they’ll get it together sooner rather than later.
We've selected Carlo Cudicini ($5.4m) as our keeper this week and are leaning towards holding him for several weeks after, if the Galaxy solidifies their defensive tendencies.
In our team joining Cudicini is his defender Sean Franklin ($5.3m). His value isn't something you can pass up on, and while Omar Gonzalez ($6.0m) generally is the rock at the back Franklin has done just as well in recent weeks, and we prefer to pocket the $0.7m difference and push it into the midfield.
With that difference we've used it to help secure Landon Donovan ($9.9m). Donovan has had a rough start since his late arrival (missing two penalty kicks so far) and well over half his points came in just one game. We believe it's only temporary and expect a good point total from him, he's our captain!
For more information on prizing and how to sign up for the Official Whitecaps Fantasy League click: HERE
Gut-check time Fantasy Managers!
It's that Round 11 we've all circled on our calendar and it's time to get serious. Below are the best team and players that one should select to get the best week possible. One future key note is Round 12 features LA Galaxy and the Philadelphia Union playing a double week. So keep an eye on how LA does this week at Vancouver Whitecaps FC to give you a sense of where the best value is. Planning is key to success!
Justin Mapp ($6.8m), Montreal Impact – In less than a week Justin Mapp has vaulted himself into a player to own. After his performance in the Amway Canadian Championship against Toronto FC many wondered if he could follow it up in league play. Mapp responded by scoring two goals versus San Jose Earthquakes, bringing his tally to a remarkable three goals and one assist over the last week. While it could very well be short lived, at only $6.8m it’s worth the gamble to see if his hot streak continues!
Graham Zusi ($10.2m), Sporting Kansas City – Goes without saying this man should be not only be in your team, but be your captain. After 14 pts last week vs Chivas USA one can only expect the best from Zusi. Seattle and Houston are his opponents and while it's not the best match up, Zusi is just so good that it shouldn't matter who he plays against.
Team of the week (Round 11), FC Dallas – Playing on home turf has proven a deadly advantage in Major League Soccer and the Hoops play both of this week’s matches at FC Dallas Stadium first against DC United then Portland Timbers. This schedule proves to be the easiest out of all the MLS sides. Dallas have only conceded two goals and remain undefeated at home. We expect at the very least one clean sheet but wouldn't be surprised if it's two.
We've made a change in our line-up and have added goalkeeper Raul Fernandez ($5.7m), even with his .2m increase in salary he represents tremendous value in the keeper position, especially with the personnel in front of him.
Speaking of that personnel, what more can be said about this back line? It took some heroics from Whitecaps' rookie Kekuta Manneh ($5.0m) to not only break the shutout of Dallas but salvage a tie. Matt Hedges ($5.7m) is your "CBI" specialist he's a defending bonus machine and Michael Pereira ($5.6m) is fast becoming a great choice as he is continuously lined up in the midfield even though he's listed as a defender, he's had 3 key passes in 4 out of the last 5 games.
Dallas is coming off a bye which they desperately needed after picking up knocks to Andrew Jacobson ($6.4m) and defender George John ($5.8m), if either of these are in your line up, proceed with caution and watch the injury news.
With Jackson ($7.9m) recently receiving a red card, we're going to steer clear of the middle of the park. We don't advise picking Dallas forwards Kenny Cooper ($8.9m) or Blas Perez ($9.0m) as we believe that money can be spent better elsewhere.
Round 9 is upon us which means we're only two weeks away from the massive double header Round 11. Every transfer you make now should be for a player who will have two games in Round 11 to maximize your potential points. Because of that, the focus for the next two weeks will be on players who are poised to do well in their current round as well as Round 11.
Landon Donovan ($10.0m), LA Galaxy – Well Donovan came back with a big bang in Round 8 and many people have jumped on him early. If he can maintain his hot streak and find his form of previous seasons he'll more than justify his $10.0m price tag. Galaxy are without a double match week in round 11 but they do have two games in round 12 when they travel to Philadelphia Union then New York Red Bulls. If you can find the space for him in your salary-cap he's guaranteed to see a price jump after Round 11 as managers scoop him up for Round 12.
Dax McCarty ($8.7m), New York Red Bulls – Facing Toronto FC who are notorious for conceding bad goals is a good match up for McCarty. The Red Bulls made a fantastic 4-1 comeback from behind last week against a New England side that had until then held the lowest goals against for any team in MLS this season. Putting four past the Revolution is quite a feat and we think McCarty and company's momentum will continue, even with the loss of Juninho due to red card suspension. Looking ahead to Round 11 they square off against the Montreal Impact and New England once again, two matches that could easily tilt in their favour.
Team of the week (Round 9), FC Dallas – Dallas are at the top of the league because of their strong defense and creative midfield. This week they're headed to our neck of the woods to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC who have struggled to maintain a clean sheet in the past few rounds. They also present a good option to fantasy managers going into Round 11 when they play two matches at home against Portland Timbers and D.C. United.
Dallas' centre backs Matt Hedges ($5.6m) George John ($5.8m) are the rocks that hold the puzzle together. Michel Pereira ($5.6m) is listed as a defender but appears to be a defensive holding midfielder for Dallas and is quite consistent with key passes and crosses. With the midfield there are plenty of worthwhile options, Jackson ($8.1m) and David Ferreira ($9.1m) are the two big key play makers in the engine room with Andrew Jacobson ($6.4m) being a bargain at his price with similar points. Jacobson has only put up under 4 points once this year being one of the most consistent well priced players in the league. We prefer him over his 2 counter parts.
Up top Blas Perez ($9.0m) and Kenny Cooper ($9.1m) are the two forwards, but we prefer to avoid these two as we feel for the price there is better value to be had elsewhere. Keep in mind that Dallas has a bye next week so plan accordingly, and as always keep an eye on the latest injury report updates HERE. Good luck in Round 9.
Here it is, the most important round to date. The first double-game week is upon us and fantasy managers need to utilize these weeks if they want to stay in contention for prizes. As the masses rush towards the teams that play the most, the players in demand increase in cost.
As Sporting Kansas City and the New York Red Bulls are the only teams with two games this week, we take a change from our usual pattern and profile both teams.
We're tight for time before the 4:15pm PT deadline, so let’s get to it!
Sporting Kansas City - If you aren't part of the 44.4% of the league who currently own Graham Zusi ($9.9m) then there's a problem, he will be the most captained player of Round 8. If you think SKC will have a successful offensive production while visiting LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls, then Claudio Bieler ($9.3m) is your man, he's scored twice in the last two games. The safe play though is Kansas' defense. With four straight shutouts this team has finally found their form of last year.
The trio of Aurelien Collin ($6.4m), Matt Besler ($6.1m) and keeper Jimmy Nielsen ($6.0m) are the best in the business. Can't go wrong with any of those three. If managers don't have 3 players from Kansas this round, they will significantly fall behind.
New York Red Bulls – New York faces two strong opponents as both Kansas City and New England Revolution are significantly strong on defense. The saving grace is they are likely to earn a clean sheet versus the Revolution who have only one goal on the season. Not nearly as much can be expected in their matchup against Kansas City who are strong on all fronts: lethal at scoring and stringent on conceding. That being said, it is better to have defenders in difficult games.
So we start with the Red Bull’s back line. Best value by far comes from Markus Holgersson ($4.8m) as his value means he should be able to be slotted on any team and receive an uptick in price. The more expensive option is Jamison Olave ($6.0m). Olave’s value is significantly inflated though as he has scored as a defender in 2 straight games and many managers have jumped on board and driven up his price tag. We prefer Markus for straight up value.
Goalkeeper Luis Robles ($5.6m) should pick up a good number of points in New England but could be in for quite the rough night at Kansas so we prefer to avoid him and use our max 3 players from one team another way.
And that way is Thierry Henry ($10.5m), he's had a very rough year so far and has struggled with injury, but If anyone from the Red Bull lineup is going to score/create this round it will be him. He has the ability to take over games at any moment and at a steep $10.5m he's expensive but we like the gamble as the risk versus return has tremendous potential.
As always, keep an eye on the latest injury report updates HERE. Good luck in Round 8.
Hold or Sell?
That’s the theme of this week’s forecast considering Sporting Kansas City are the only team on a bye this round. With the likes of Jimmy Nielsen ($6.0m), Aurélien Collin ($6.2m), Matt Besler ($6.0m), Graham Zusi ($9.9m) and Claudio Bieler ($9.3m) being so widely owned, fantasy managers have some tough questions to ask themselves.
With the impending double game next week, we've elected to hold all three of our Kansas' players. However, if you decide to sell make sure to buy them back as quickly as possible following the round lock, as their prices will surely increase from the rush of additions.
So with that being said, we're here to give you the value you seek, assuming you're holding 2 or 3 Kansas players on your bench.
Corey Ashe ($5.0m), Houston Dynamo – Houston look to rebound at home versus Chicago Fire. With Houston only conceding once at home this season, and Chicago yet to score when away, we expect a clean sheet further extending Houston's home unbeaten streak to 35 games.
Chris Korb ($4.6m), D.C. United – Although struggling as of late D.C. United have a relatively decent match up against the enigma that is the New York Red Bulls this weekend. We believe throwing Korb in could net a decent return, and at only $4.6m he’s an affordable option with your stars on your bench this week.
Team of the week (Round 7), Seattle Sounders – Fresh off their elimination from CONCACAF Champions league Seattle finds themselves at the bottom of the MLS standings. The Sounders are off to their worst start in franchise history so it’s fortunate for them that they face the second last New England Revolution this weekend. Keep in mind that defense doesn’t seem to the problem for the Revs. Believe it or not, they have only conceded two goals so far this year, but they’ve also only managed to score one.
If Seattle plans to mount a comeback this season it will need to start from the back, and that's where our focus will be for them this week. Thanks to the Seattle struggles this year many of their players have dropped in value. Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning ($5.8m) was one of the best keepers last year, only conceding 15 times. On the backline we start with Djimi Traore ($5.5m) he's only played the last 3 games for Seattle but has averaged between 4 and 5 fantasy points per game. DeAndre Yedlin ($4.6m) probably falls right into place in this week’s blog, as he's the cheapest defender that Seattle plays, and because of that, his value has actually increased.
We suggest steering clear of Seattle's attack until they show they have rebounded this season, but when they do, grab them when they're cheap, as many fantasy managers have an eye on this under-performing team with a very deep midfield.
As always, keep an eye on the latest injury report updates HERE. Good luck in Round 7.
Another round under the belt, how has your MLS Fantasy team done so far? Middle of the pack? Trailing behind? Or leading the show? It's still very early in the season but by now we should start to see the teams who have lost interest and fallen off, and on the other end of the spectrum, see who's the real deal.
With Seattle Sounders and LA Galaxy both having byes this week for the second time in five rounds, it enough to frustrate Fantasy goers immensely. Looking at the stats for Teams selected by % it appears an overwhelming amount of players have either a Galaxy forward (Robbie Keane 21.2%), midfielder (Mike Magee 27.8%) or defender (Omar Gonzalez 24.2%) on their roster. This week we’ll provide you with some secondary cover while you await the return of the reigning MLS Champions to your squad.
Claudio Bieler ($9.2m), Sporting Kansas City – Bieler had quite an active game last weekend with one goal and two fluffed chances. If he had converted all three you could imagine his price increase! With double-header rounds 8 and 11 coming up, we are going to grab him now and hold him through his bye week in round 7. We don't want to risk missing a goal scored versus DC United this weekend.
Abdoulie Mansally ($4.6m), Real Salt Lake – Mansally had a hot start to the season but cooled off thanks to international duty and a game suspension due to violent conduct. We weren't sure how his position in the team would fare when he returned last weekend but he played 80 minutes in a 2-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders and secured five fantasy points. Facing a Colorado Rapids team who are still winless on the year we like Mansally's chances of a clean sheet.
Team of the week (Round 6), Houston Dynamo – With their elimination from CONCACAF Champions league earlier in March, the Dynamo can now focus on their MLS schedule. Facing Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field they’re looking to claim 3 points and the top spot in the Eastern Conference. After Portland, Houston's schedule gets even more favourable with matches versus Chicago (H) Toronto (A) and Colorado (H). Those four teams have a grand total of two wins this season.
Brad Davis ($8.9m) is a must have considering his price tag, and he won't get cheaper than this. Adding him to your team will also bring a significant increase in value over the next several months. He's the man in the engine room and any success Houston has, he's the one pulling the strings. Will Bruin ($8.7m) has also fallen from his $9m value, but with a goal and an assist in his last 2 games means he's looking likely to reclaim last years stellar form.
On defense Houston have some amazing value. Fullbacks Corey Ashe ($5.0m) and Kofi Sarkodie ($5.0m) pose a better bang for your buck than centre backs Bobby Boswell ($5.9m) and Jermaine Taylor ($5.5m). That recommendation factors doubly when you consider that through the first five rounds all four defenders have similar fantasy scores.
As always, keep an eye on the latest injury report updates HERE. Good luck in Round 6.
International week has now come and gone, and hopefully as fantasy managers we're all more experienced because of it. More importantly though is whether or not all your players who were called-up have come back healthy and motivated for Round 5. For certain the US internationals like Matt Besler ($6.0m), Omar Gonzalez ($6.1m), Graham Zusi ($9.8m), Brad Davis ($8.9m) and Eddie Johnson ($9.9m) will be riding high after surviving the Azteca in Mexico and defeating Costa Rica at what looked like the North Pole.
Whether you capitalized or didn’t fare so well last round I still have some good news for you. The powers that be at the MLS Fantasy Manager head office have made a few alterations to transfers in the next two rounds. With CONCACAF scheduling implications they have given us an extra transfer in Round 6. Also if you don't make use of your two transfers in Round 5, one of them will roll over giving Round 6 a potential four free transfers! Plan accordingly.
Graham Zusi ($9.8m), Sporting Kansas City – How to make this as blunt as possible... if this guy isn't in your lineup then you have a problem. A quick glance at the schedule for Sporting Kansas show Round 8 and Round 11 are double game weeks. Zusi is now owned by a whopping 35.7% of the league and will only become more expensive as we get closer to the double headers. Now is the time to bite the bullet and finally find the salary cap to buy him. We like his home match versus Montreal as a nice welcome back from his national team duties.
Clint Irwin ($4.1m), Colorado Rapids – This is a pure value play. With the news of Colorado's starting goalkeeper Matt Pickens ($4.9m) out 3-4 months with a broken arm, it appears it's Clint Irwin's job to lose. We don't believe in having 2 starting goalies in any fantasy formation but considering the cheapest keepers come in at about $3.9m, it's a smart play to have Irwin on your bench. If you have a free transfer handy this addition could net you some good salary growth several weeks down the road.
Team of the week (Round 5), FC Dallas – Fresh off their win last week against a roster depleted Real Salt Lake, Dallas find themselves on top of the Western Conference facing a home contest against New England Revolution. With the Revolution only tallying one goal so far this season, it’s a great match to load up on Dallas defenders.
Matt Hedges ($5.0m) surprise, surprise...Mr. Hedges is on our blog again for a 2nd week in a row. Previously we mentioned the defender's amazing ability to rack up bonus points without a clean sheet, well last week he rewarded us with both and we expect him to do it again. Michel Garbini Pereira ($5.0m) looks like he's taken the role of last years Zach Lloyd ($5.0m). While both are starters for Dallas, Pereira has been getting a fair amount of key passes and crosses into the box for the team, a playing style which many are waiting for Lloyd to recapture.
George John ($5.6m) is the most expensive defender on the roster but we recommend steering clear of him. The cheaper alternatives listed above are much better fantasy savvy plays.
For more advice from the pros check out the latest episode of MLSsoccer.com's Starting Lineup below:
As always, keep an eye on the latest injury report updates HERE. Good luck in Round 5.