One week on and we’re still only just catching our breath after the ‘Caps Cascadia clincher in Seattle.
What a Friday night it was. A derby filled with noise, excitement and more adrenaline-fuelled action than a Sylvester Stallone DVD marathon. In the end, it was a case of history repeating itself as Kekuta Manneh bagged the winning goal almost a year to the day since he hit the headlines with that historic hat-trick.
However, with the Cup safely tucked away in its rightful place in northern Cascadia, attention once again turns to the playoff hunt this weekend as the resurgent ‘Caps hit the road for a crucial game against the Earthquakes. Coming off of a three game win streak, there’s plenty of reasons why fans should be cheerful ahead of Saturday night’s clash in San Jose. But for your reading pleasure, we’ve whittled it down to just five.
1. We’re in control of our own destiny
It’s one of the oldest clichés in sports, but with just two MLS regular season games to go the ‘Caps are very much in charge of their own destiny. With their win against Seattle, the Blue and White remain one point up on the Portland Timbers for the final playoff spot in the West. Sure, contemplating all of the possible playoff scenarios are liable to generate more head-scratching than flat-pack furniture instructions; but the bottom line is that the ‘Caps don’t have to rely on results from elsewhere to ensure safe passage into the post-season.
2. Show me the Manneh
Mr. October is at it again. Manneh fought through the pain barrier to score the ‘Caps winner against Seattle last Friday, rekindling memories of his historic hat-trick at CenturyLink Field last October. Fans will no doubt hope his form continues as the team travels to California this weekend.
3. Koffie is back!
More than two months after injuring his ankle during the August 10 win over Sporting Kansas City, midfielder Gershon Koffie announced that he was fit and ready for selection ahead of the ‘Caps trip to California this weekend. Despite sporting a particularly unfashionable piece of footwear for the past 10 weeks, Koffie’s influence on the team cannot be underestimated. But whilst the team’s record with the 23-year-old Ghanian in the starting XI is impressive (6W-3L-8D), it won’t be easy for him to fight his way into a lineup that includes the ever reliable Matias Laba and the resurgent Russell Teibert. Nevertheless, it’s the kind of selection headache that Robbo will no doubt welcome as we come down to the nitty gritty end of the season.
4. This team has character
Whether it’s an impassioned outburst from David Ousted, midfield maestro Pedro Morales leading by example, or the on-field leadership of Russell Teibert; this ‘Caps team is full of character. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that people were writing them off and now here they are, Cascadia champions who sit in a playoff position with just two games to go. That character will stand them in good stead as they visit to a San Jose team who’ll want to put on a show for their fans in their final home game of the season.
5. Seba’s in contention
After his superlative-laden performance against FC Dallas on October 4, Sebastian Fernandez must have been the picture of frustration after he was forced to serve a suspension for yellow card accumulation against Seattle. The good news, however, is that the diminutive Uruguayan is back in contention for the match against San Jose and will no doubt be looking to make up for lost time against the Earthquakes.
How are you feeling ahead of Saturday's match with San Jose? Let us know in the comments section below.
Five days on fans are still buzzing after Saturday’s win at BC Place, and for good reason.
Yes, it was great to cement our spot in the playoff race and yes, it really was fun watching Kendall Waston and Andy O’Brien frustrate Blas Perez for 90-odd minutes. But perhaps the most enjoyable take-home from the 2-0 victory over FC Dallas was the team’s overall performance.
To a man, the ‘Caps starting XI impressed and by the time the final whistle blew, just about every player on the pitch could have staked his claim to the Budweiser Man of the Match award. But - to borrow a line from a wonky 1980’s sci-fi franchise - there can be only one; and so it came as no surprise when Sebastian Fernandez’s name was announced after the final whistle.
Whilst his two goal haul drew plaudits, it was the Uruguayan’s workrate that really caught the eye as the ‘Caps number 7 seemingly covered every blade of (artificial) grass inside BC Place. It was, as Robbo said after the game; “a terrific performance from the kid.” But nevertheless, the match finished on something of a sour note for Fernandez after he picked up a yellow card that will see him suspended for Friday night’s crucial Cascadia clash.
With Seba out, a spot has opened up in a lineup that had remained unchanged over the previous three matches.
But who should fill it?
Obviously Kekuta Manneh has previous experience when it comes to away days in Seattle, whilst Nico Mezquida has been Mr. Dependable so far this season. And don’t rule out Residency product Kianz Froese, who Robbo confirmed will be in the 18-man squad for the trip to Seattle.
So, who gets your vote? Use our survey below to let us know WHO you think should start against Seattle and whilst you're down there why not join in with the comments to tell us WHY.
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
After stressful back to back double game weeks, it only gets more complicated from here. The dreaded international week is fast approaching again and headaches are on the agenda. The only sure way to avoid the pain of missing players to international games, injuries following those games and of course players being rested is to have as close to a full roster as possible. Sounds simple doesn't it?
Landon Donovan ($10.1m), LA Galaxy – He's been up and down this season but now you need Mr. Donovan more than ever. With Graham Zusi ($10.4m) likely only to play Round 13 and then Round 17 due to byes and national duty you need a big prolific stud in midfield. That man is Donovan.
Lamar Neagle ($5.7m), Seattle Sounders – Touching on the necessity of having a full team, Lamar Neagle comes to mind. He's been on fire for the last two weeks with three goals and one assist. Listed as a midfielder in fantasy but often lining up at forward for Seattle poses great potential. Neagle could easily be a flash in the pan but at $5.7m we like that price.
Team of the week (Round 13), Real Salt Lake – Real Salt Lake at home face the third worst team in the league this round, the Chicago Fire. The Fire has only scored six goals this season and only one on the road. We like those odds and feel Salt Lake will get back to their defensive ways that made them such a powerhouse last season.
Goalkeeper Nick Rimando ($6.1m) is a good person to have to take advantage of the Chicago Fire's woes, but only for this week as he is on international duty and will most likely miss Round 14 and 15. In defense we like Chris Schuler ($5.7m) we are aware that he didn't play last game and that appears to be to avoid fatigue as it was his first time sitting out all season. If you're worried about that fact then we suggest going with Chris Wingert ($5.3m) or cheap alternative Tony Beltran ($4.5m).
Middle of the park you have to start with Kyle Beckerman ($8.4m) who has 1 goal and 1 assist in his last 2 rounds, or Javier Morales ($8.4m) who has been creating many key passes in the past few weeks. As for forwards we aren't a fan of many of the attacking forwards on Real Salt Lake and are convinced you can find better alternatives on other teams. That’s all for this week, and good luck in Round 13 Fantasy Managers.
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!
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 10 has been the source of quite a bit of pain to fantasy managers. Having the top team in the MLS right now, FC Dallas on a bye week was enough to punish fantasy teams, but then the multitude of red cards handed out last week such as Brad Davis ($9.0m) and Jackson ($8.0m), just compounded many managers problems. Also out due to injury is Dax McCarthy ($8.5m) and Landon Donovan ($10.0m).
This week our fantasy blog addresses the above problems and how to plug the holes of your team. Keep in mind that next week is full of doubleheaders so if you're going to make or break your fantasy season it could be the following round. Make sure you capitalize on your players starting in as many games as possible!
Graham Zusi ($10.2m), Sporting Kansas City – With the number of crucial players in the midfield out due to injuries and suspensions, fantasy managers must plug the hole with the best they can find. Zusi is reliable and consistent, and while he hasn't scored in 4 weeks that doesn't stop him for putting up many bonus points and key passes. Favourable match for Sporting and Zusi at home vs Chivas USA.
Brandon Barklage ($6.3m), New York Red Bulls – At $6.3m, Barklage is a good value pick, and this week he's facing a reasonable opponent against Columbus Crew. More importantly is that in Round 11 he faces two favourable opponents with matches against Montreal Impact and New England Revolution. Barklage has slid a little under the radar with the inconsistency of the Red Bulls but with Dax McCarthy injured we feel Barklage could capture his fourth assist this week and perhaps even a bonus point or two.
Team of the week (Round 10), Portland Timbers – With FC Dallas on a bye week, our focus turns to the next best defensive bet this round. The Portland Timbers have the best shot on defense this week at home facing a weak scoring team in the New England Revolution.
Portland's defence possesses some great value for fantasy managers, Rodney Wallace ($5.0m) is the guy to start with, in his last four starts he's average 5.5 points. Next best shot is Mikael Silvestre ($4.8m), Silvestre has had an up and down year so far and while we rather have Wallace at Silvestre's price he could be worth a gamble.
In the middle of the park Portland has four very solid midfielders in Canadian Will Johnson ($7.8m), Darlington Nagbe ($7.8m), and designated players Diego Chara ($7.4m) and Diego Valeri ($7.7m), all of whom have accumulated relatively the same point exposure. We like Diego Valeri though as he brings more crosses and key passes than his teammates. We think if Portland do get on the score sheet there’s a good chance it will be through Valeri.
Up front, the only guy you need is Ryan Johnson ($8.5m). Johnson has either been absolutely great or very quiet in his last four games amassing three goals and one assist in two matches, but also had only getting points for playing 60+ minutes in another two matches. Real hit or miss, he might be a long shot versus a strong New England defence.
As always keep an eye on the latest injury report updates HERE and good luck in Round 10.
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.