MLS Fantasy Focus: Who should you be bringing in for the first DGW of the season?

By Jamie Dawe & Sam Martin

Week 3 Review

The Good:

LA Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes ($9.5) helped continue his side’s unbeaten home run as he netted two goals in his side’s 3-1 win against San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday as they climbed to 2nd in the Western Conference. Reigning MLS Cup champions Portland came from two goals down to grab a point at home to Real Salt Lake, with Fanendo Adi ($10.2) grabbing a brace, including one from the spot late on. Philadelphia picked up their second win of the season with a convincing 3-0 home victory over the New England Revolution. American forward CJ Sapong ($8.1) opened his MLS 2016 goals account with two in his side’s well-deserved victory, while rookie defender Keegan Rosenberry ($5.5) made four interceptions and two crucial tackles to preserve his side’s second clean-sheet in three matches. 

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The Bad:

Unbeaten Real Salt Lake threw away a two-goal lead at Portland Timbers in the last 11 minutes, but also saw two of their men receive red cards. With his side a goal up, midfielder Kyle Beckerman ($8.3) saw red, followed by defender Jamison Olave ($7.8), who received his marching orders in the 83rd minute. Manager Jeff Cassar will surely be frustrated with his side’s lack of discipline. A further three red cards were dished out across the weekend, making a grand total of 5 across all matches. San Jose’s Jamaican DP Simon Dawkins ($8.6), New England Revolution defender Je-Vaughn Watson ($6.9) and former Wigan Athletic midfielder Roger Espinoza ($7.2) all saw red for their misdemeanours. It certainly was another fiery weekend in MLS!

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Week 4 Preview

Must Buy:

With the first Double Gameweek of the season hurtling towards us at top speed, it’s time for you to stack up on players who could make a real impact in the Week 4 scoring charts. I’m going to attempt to recommend one player from each side that has a Double Gameweek this week. Firstly, from DC United, Brazilian midfielder Marcelo Sarvas ($7.1) is definitely a safe bet to score a decent quantity of bonus points in both matches, so if you’re looking for guaranteed points, he’s your man. FC Dallas are missing a number of their key players this international break, so it’s a chance for Mauro Diaz ($10.4) to continue to show his incredible credentials without the likes of Tesho Akindele and Kellyn Acosta surrounding him. The New England Revs have had a disappointing start to the season, but it could’ve been a lot worse if it wasn’t for star ‘keeper Bobby Shuttleworth ($5.8). A clean sheet and two saved penalties in three games make Shuttleworth by far and away the best performer so far in this poor New England side. I also expect that this week will be the week that Kekuta Manneh’s ($8.5) ability shines through for the Whitecaps in their double header of home games. However, I would not recommend picking up any Whitecaps defenders as they face free-scoring Houston on Saturday, followed by the visit of LA Galaxy, who are also a dangerous attacking outfit.

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Must Sell:

This week, I’m struggling to see anyone or any team that stands out to me as particularly worth selling over everyone else. Obviously, dropping any of the red-carded players can’t be argued against and anyone losing faith in the Sounders ever picking up form would be understood if they were to remove Clint Dempsey ($10.8) or Jordan Morris ($8.2) from their side. The New York Red Bulls also picked up a host of hamstring injuries in their 4-3 victory over Houston, so defenders Gideon Baah ($8.0) and Ronald Zubar ($7.8) could be ones to remove before their match against the Revs on April 1.

Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps 2016 Clint Dempsey


There’s a new leader in the MLSGB Fantasy League this week, as Damian Reed’s brilliantly named side De Jong Trousers now tops the leaderboard. However, this week’s highest scorer was SW Whistler’s squad Pits of Passyunk with 87 points, which included double figures from Philly players CJ Sapong and Fabinho, his chosen captain Cyle Larin and Red Bulls midfield maestro Sacha Kljestan.

Who do you think is the best player to select for the upcoming Double Gameweek?

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Philadelphia Union vs New York Red Bulls

Competition: Major League Soccer – Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls

Venue: PPL Park – Saturday, August 1 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: Philadelphia 7/5 – Draw 11/4 – NY Red Bulls 17/10

Match Preview

Philadelphia Union host the New York Red Bulls in an Eastern Conference clash between two teams at either end of the table.

The Union were 2-0 up away at DC United after four minutes last weekend but somehow lost 3-2, summing up their problems this year.

They are ninth in the East but are only two points off a playoff place and remain in the hunt for postseason football if they can regain their form.

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They have already beaten their opponents this weekend twice this year, winning 2-0 away at Red Bull Arena in the league and then seeing them off on penalties in the US Open Cup just over a week ago.

New York travel to Philadelphia off of back-to-back wins and look back on track after a midseason blip a month ago.

They are nine points off DC United at the top of the East with four games in hand and look set to make the playoffs now they’ve rediscovered their form.

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The addition of Shaun Wright-Phillips will strengthen them further and could see his brother Bradley recapture his goalscoring form, starting with a trip to PPL Park on Saturday.

Team News

The Union will be without Michael Lahoud, Raymond Lee, Andrew Wenger and Vincent Nogueira, while Richie Marquez is a doubt.

New York Red Bulls have two concerns as Chris Duvall is out and Ronald Zubar is a doubt once again.

Key Points

Philadelphia Union’s last five: W/D/W/L/L

New York Red Bulls’ last five: W/W/L/W/W

Key Stat: There have been 19 goals in the last five matches between these two in Philadelphia – an average of 3.8 per game.

Key Player: CJ Sapong – The Union attacker netted the fastest goal in Philadelphia history last weekend and has been in fine form in front of goal this year. Expect him to be involved again on Saturday.

Photo courtesy of MLSsoccer.com

Photo courtesy of MLSsoccer.com

Score Prediction

Philadelphia Union 2-2 New York Red Bulls – The Union are a much better side at home but have lost their last two on the bounce and will struggle to beat a Red Bulls side in good form. A draw looks the most likely outcome but there should be goals in this one.

What should AFC Bournemouth expect in friendly against Philadelphia Union?

Premier League newcomers AFC Bournemouth play their first preseason game on Tuesday night as Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union will play host to the Cherries at PPL Park in what should be an intriguing game.

Bournemouth won the Championship with relative ease last season and so Eddie Howe‘s side fully deserve their place in the top flight of English football. But they know it will be a tough season and so their preseason preparations must be executed perfectly.

A trip to the United States to face the Union will improve team spirit and will help the new signings gel with their teammates before they play their first game together on Tuesday night in what will be a real test.

Preparation

The fact that Philadelphia are in the middle of their domestic campaign will help them as fitness levels will be at the perfect level, whereas Eddie Howe’s squad have not played a game for over two months.

Preseason is all about improving match fitness but the Cherries may suffer against physically more equipped opponents at this stage of their summer.

As well as fitness, Bournemouth will be looking for a positive result and there is no doubt that returning to England with a win will be the aim here.

Many Bournemouth fans, and perhaps players too will likely be surprised by the quality of play that the Union will be able to demonstrate. Major League Soccer has improved dramatically each year and teams are now in a position to give even the strongest Premier League sides a test.

Form

Philadelphia are currently seventh in the Eastern Conference and sit 16th in the overall MLS standings. It’s not been a perfect season by any stretch for Jim Curtin’s side but they haven’t lost in three and beat Portland Timbers 3-0 at home on Saturday night – a game the Bournemouth players watched from inside the owner’s box at PPL Park.

Five of their six wins this season have come at PPL Park and they are always better in front of their owns fans.

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Philly lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace in a friendly last July and will be looking to put in a better performance this time around against the Premier League newboys.

Over 15,000 fans turned out to watch the game against Palace last year and so another good atmosphere is to be expected for Tuesday night’s game.

Tactics

Jim Curtin will no doubt be prioritising Saturday night’s game against Toronto FC and so star players will not feature for more than 45 minutes on Tuesday. But a strong team is to be expected as Philadelphia will likely line up in their familiar 4-2-3-1 formation – a system Bournemouth will come up against numerous times in the Premier League this year.

Maurice Edu has made more starts than any other Philadelphia player this season and the versatile American will likely continue in defence for the visit of AFC Bournemouth.

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At the other end, CJ Sapong and Cristian Maidana will need to be watched closely. Sapong has five goals and two assists in his last nine games, while Maidana assisted all three goals in the win over Portland on Saturday.

Eddie Howe will likely opt to start with the 4-4-2 system that worked so well last term and new signings Sylvain Distin, Christian Atsu, Tyrone Mings and Joshua King will all expect to feature.

What do you think the score will be in Tuesday night’s friendly?

MLS Preview and prediction: Philadelphia Union vs Montreal Impact

Competition: Major League Soccer – Philadelphia Union vs. Montreal Impact

Venue: PPL Park – Saturday, June 27 – 19:00 ET (0:00 BST)

Match Odds: Philadelphia Union 1/1 – Draw 5/2 – Montreal Impact 13/5

Match Preview

Philadelphia Union welcome Montreal Impact to PPL Park this weekend looking to win a second match in four days, while Montreal will be looking to get back to winning ways after their defeat at Toronto on Wednesday night.

The Union are full of confidence after their 1-0 home win over Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders on Wednesday as a solitary CJ Sapong goal earned them a valuable three points.

Sapong has been in free goalscoring form as of late, netting four goals in his last four appearances. He is the main threat in front of goal for the Union right now and all the focus is on him. 

Philadelphia have won four from nine MLS matches at PPL Park this season, with the Columbus Crew, Seattle Sounders and DC United all beaten in Philadelphia.

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There are just two points separating the Union from a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference at the midpoint of the season and they will look to take three from a Montreal Impact side who have been relatively poor away from home this term.

The Impact have played five games less than the Union but they are sat just one point behind them in the Eastern. Their CONCACAF Champions League campaign has left them trailing behind the in terms of games played and so they have a lot to play for.

The Impact have only won once on the road this season with a 2-1 victory at the Columbus Crew earlier this month in what was an incredible result and one that many probably didn’t expect to happen.

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Montreal have never won at PPL Park so a victory here would be their first in five attempts and would see them climb above the hosts on Saturday night.

Team News

Philadelphia Union have doubts over Sebastien Le Toux (knee), Michael Lahoud (thigh), Fernando Aristeguieta (leg) and Conor Casey (thigh) but Steven Vitoria is ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Montreal impact have plenty of injury concerns with Adrian Lopez (knee), Justin Mapp (elbow), Cameron Porter (knee) and Kenny Cooper (knee) all out. Doubts hang over Hassoun Camara (knee) and Eric Miller (hamstring).

Key Points

Philadelphia Union last five: L/W/L/L/W

Montreal Impact last five: W/W/L/W/L

Key Stat – Montreal Impact have only scored four goals from seven games away from home this season.

Key Player: CJ Sapong – The young American has six goals this season, with four in his last four. He is in great form and will be a huge threat to a Montreal Impact side who struggle for victories on the road.

Photo courtesy of MLSsoccer.com

Photo courtesy of MLSsoccer.com

Score Prediction 

Philadelphia Union 2-0 Montreal Impact – Although both teams have played midweek, Philadelphia are at home and haven’t had to travel during the week. Home comforts set the tone for this one as the Union should record back-to-back wins for the second time this year.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Philadelphia Union vs Seattle Sounders

Competition: Major League Soccer – Philadelphia Union vs. Seattle Sounders 

Venue: PPL Park – Wednesday, June 24 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: Philadelphia Union 13/10 – Draw 12/5 – Seattle Sounders 2/1

Match Preview

Philadelphia Union play host to Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders in the first of seven midweek fixtures on Wednesday night in a game that sees a repeat of last year’s US Open Cup final.

Arguably the worst side in MLS, Philadelphia have the worst points-per-game ratio in the league and are the only team to average below a point a game with 0.88 per match so far.

And having lost three out of their last four, Philadelphia need a win, and soon. If there was a good time to play Seattle, this would be it as the Sounders will be without Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins for the trip to PPL Park on Wednesday.

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The Union lost 5-1 at LA Galaxy last time out and need to try and bounce back from that heavy defeat here against last season’s MLS Supporters’ Shield winners.

Philadelphia Union’s record: P17 W4 D3 L10

As mentioned before, Martins and Dempsey will be missing from the Sounders’ starting lineup and with Chad Barrett also out, the Sounders are struggling with attacking options.

Incidentally, it was all three of those strikers who struck in last year’s Open Cup final win against the Union as the Sounders lifted the trophy at PPL Park.

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Sigi Schmid will likely field Lamar Neagle as the lone striker once again as he did in Saturday’s disappointing home loss to the San Jose Earthquakes.

Despite losing to the Quakes for the second time this year, they remain top of an extremely strong Western Conference, for the time being, and know they need to return home with three points from Wednesday’s clash in Philly.

Seattle Sounders’ 2015 MLS record: P16 – W9 – D2 – L5

Losing two of their last three represents a dip in form but Seattle will see this trip to Philadelphia as the perfect chance to grab three points and they should do so.

The Sounders have won three of the last four meetings between the sides, including last season’s Open Cup final after extra-time, and will be the more confident of the two sides as a result.

Team News

Philadelphia Union could be without three of their strikeforce as Fernando Aristeguieta, Conor Casey and Sebastien Le Toux are all doubts. CJ Sapong may start as the lone striker once again.

Seattle Sounders are missing Obafemi Martins, Osvaldo Alonso and Chad Barrett through injury, while Gonzalo Pineda is a doubt. Clint Dempsey is still serving a three-game suspension so Lamar Neagle is expected to start up front again.

Key Points

Philadelphia Union’s last five: W/L/W/L/L

Seattle Sounders’ last five: W/W/L/W/L

Key Stat: Philadelphia have only kept one clean sheet against the Sounders in MLS regular season matches – a 2-0 win in 2011.

Key Player: Lamar Neagle – The dynamic utility man will have a hard time filling in for Martins and Dempsey but he will hold the key to the final result in this one.

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Score Prediction

Philadelphia Union 1-2 Seattle Sounders – Seattle are without their star frontmen in Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins but they should still have enough to dispatch the Union by the odd goal.

MLS Preview and Prediction: LA Galaxy vs Philadelphia Union

Competition: Major League Soccer – LA Galaxy vs. Philadelphia Union

Venue: StubHub Center – Saturday, June 20 – 22:30 ET (03:30 BST – Sunday, June 21)

Match Odds: LA Galaxy 4/7 – Draw 3/1 – Philadelphia Union 9/2

Match Preview

LA Galaxy welcome Philadelphia Union to StubHub Center on Saturday night for the only meeting between these two sides in the 2015 MLS regular season.

The Galaxy come into this game looking to end a run of three games without a win (D2, L1), although they picked up a valuable point in a 1-1 draw away at the Columbus Crew last time out.

Bruce Arena’s side have struggled to get going in 2015 so far as 22 points from their opening 17 games currently leaves them sixth in the Western Conference and clinging on to a playoff spot.

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LA have only won two of their last ten matches (D5, L3) and also lost their 23-game unbeaten streak in MLS regular season home matches when they lost 1-0 to Vancouver Whitecaps in their last match on home soil.

Philadelphia Union arrive in Los Angeles off the back of a two-week break from MLS action. Their most recent league fixture was a disappointing 2-1 defeat at home to New York City.

Before that defeat, the Union had been on an impressive run of form that had seen them secure wins over DC United, New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew.

Picture courtesy of philadelphiaunion.com

Photo courtesy of philadelphiaunion.com

Jim Curtin will be urging his side to try and replicate the performances from those games in order to try and get something out of a game that he knows will be tough despite the Galaxy’s stuttering start to the 2015 campaign.

Both sides successfully secured their place in the fifth round of the US Open Cup in midweek, but attentions will now turn back to MLS as LA and Philadelphia continue the fight for playoff places in their respective conferences.

The last meeting between these two saw the LA Galaxy run out as convincing 4-1 winners over Philadelphia. The Union have only ever beaten the Galaxy once in seven attempts (D1, L5), which came via a 2-1 success on the same ground back in July 2012.

Team News

LA Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Perk (ankle) remains out, while Todd Dunivant (leg) and Edson Buddle (groin) are both doubts. Bradford Jamieson IV will be tested before the game to see if he’s recovered from concussion.

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Philadelphia Union will be without Steven Vitoria and Antoine Hoppenot (both hamstring), while there’s also doubts over the fitness of Sebastien Le Toux (knee), Michael Lahoud (leg), Fernando Aristeguieta (leg) and Conor Casey (leg).

Key Points

LA Galaxy’s last five in MLS: W/W/D/L/D

Philadelphia Union’s last five in MLS: W/W/L/W/L

Key Stat: Philadelphia Union have failed to win nine of their last 10 away matches in MLS.

Key Player: C. J. Sapong – He’s been excellent recently, netting three times in his last four matches. The Union will be looking to him for inspiration if they’re to get anything out of this one.

Photo courtesy of mlssoccer.com

Photo courtesy of mlssoccer.com

Score Prediction

LA Galaxy 2-1 Philadelphia Union – The Galaxy should just edge this because of their home advantage. The Union don’t tend to travel particularly well and that could be their downfall.

Trade crazy! All the MLS trades from a busy window on Monday

Major League Soccer clubs across the country have been busy acquiring players today. The half-day trade window gave MLS teams four hours to trade players for the first time this offseason. Clubs could also re-sign their own players.

11 players were on the move on Monday as 10 different clubs were involved with some form of trade in the final opportunity to reshuffle squad’s before Wednesday’s MLS Expansion Draft.

The Expansion Draft gets underway at 19:00 (UK time) on Wednesday and the offseason trade window will reopen after the draft ends.

Here are all today’s trades in what has been a busy day:

Michael Harrington: Portland Timbers – Colorado Rapids

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The Colorado Rapids acquired defender Michael Harrington from the Portland Timbers in exchange for allocation money. The 28-year-old made 25 appearances for the Timbers last season and should shore up a leaky Colorado defence that conceded more goals than anyone else in 2014.

Nat Borchers: Real Salt Lake – Portland Timbers

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The Timbers quickly replaced Harrington by bringing in Nat Borchers from Western Conference rivals Real Salt Lake for allocation money. The 33-year-old centre-back was with RSL since 2008 and started 32 games last season. Borchers was one of five players the Timbers signed on Monday.

Josh Williams: Columbus Crew – New York City FC

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New York City have bulked up their defence with the addition of Josh Williams from Columbus Crew in exchange for allocations funds. Williams, 26, made 14 appearances for the Crew this season.

Andrew Driver – Joe Willis/Samuel Inkoom: Houston Dynamo – DC United

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English winger Andrew Driver joined Eastern Conference winners DC United from Houston Dynamo in exchange for Joe Willis and Samuel Inkoom. The Dynamo have bolstered their defence by bringing in goalkeeper Willis and right-back Inkoom while DC have added another attacking option in Driver.

Amobi Okugo:  Philadelphia Union – Orlando City SC

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Orlando City brought in three players on Monday. Amobi Okugo was the first as the 23-year-old holding midfielder joined from Philadelphia Union in exchange for allocation money and a 2016 2nd Round SuperDraft pick. Okugo made 32 appearances for the Union in 2014, scoring and assisting two goals.

Aurelien Collin: Sporting Kansas City – Orlando City SC

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Orlando’s second pick-up was Aurelien Collin. The dominant centre-back will undoubtedly give the Lions a solid defensive leader. He joins Orlando in exchange for allocation money and future considerations. Collin, MLS Cup MVP from 2013, made 26 appearances for Sporting Kansas City in 2014, scoring twice.

Tally Hall: Houston Dynamo – Orlando City SC

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The third acquisition Orlando made was goalkeeper Tally Hall who joins from Houston in exchange for allocation money and an international roster spot. Hall and Collin will need to keep the Lions defence solid in their inaugural season in MLS next season.

C.J. Sapong: Sporting Kansas City – Philadelphia Union

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Philadelphia bolstered their attack with the addition of C.J. Sapong from Sporting Kansas City in exchange for the Union’s highest first-round pick in the upcoming SuperDraft. Sapong scored twice in 20 appearances for SKC in 2014.

Bernardo Anor: Columbus Crew – Sporting Kansas City

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After seeing Collin and Sapong leave, Sporting Kansas City brought in someone in the form of midfielder Bernardo Anor from Columbus Crew. Anor joined SKC in exchange for allocation money after scoring six goals with one assist in 27 games this year.

Omar Salgado: Vancouver Whitecaps – New York City FC

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New York City also made a move to improve their attacking options ahead of their debut season by bringing in Omar Salgado from the Vancouver Whitecaps in a swap for Future Considerations. The 21-year-old only played eight times for the Whitecaps in 2014.

Joe Nasco – Dimitry Imbongo/Geoffrey Castillion: Colorado Rapids – New England Revolution

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MLS Cup Final losers New England Revolution also made a move in the short trade window by bringing in Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Joe Nasco and a third round pick in the upcoming SuperDraft. In exchange the Revs sent forwards Dimitry Imbongo and Geoffrey Castillion as well as a second round SuperDraft pick.

Expansion franchises New York City and Orlando City also picked up international roster slots for the 2015 and 2016 seasons from DC United. Both clubs will now be looking ahead to Wednesday’s highly-anticipated Expansion Draft.

What did you make of Monday’s busy day of trading in MLS?