MLS Fantasy Focus: Week 9 tips ahead of latest DGW

By Jamie Dawe

With another double gameweek just hours away, MLS Fantasy managers will be scrambling to make sure they have signed on the players who are expected to shine this week.

Here are some players for you to ponder before tonight’s deadline:

Megabucks – David Villa ($11.2)

Even when his side aren’t performing, ‘El Guaje’ is still racking up the points. With two home matches in a row this gameweek, I’m sure the World Cup winner won’t be far from the back of the net during both games. He costs a lot, but he should deliver the goods this DGW.

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Bargain-Priced Superstar – Diego Fagundez ($8.1)

The Revs are another side that haven’t been performing to their usual standards and for the last few games, nor has Fagundez. He may not have ever quite recaptured his form from his stunning 2013 season, but he is a reliable points scorer and is expected to start both games for the Revs this week – which like NYCFC, are both at home.

The Low Budget – Fraser Aird ($6.6)

The Scottish/Canadian wingback and his Vancouver side are looking to push on after their sumptuous victory over Supporters’ Shield leaders FC Dallas on Saturday. Aird has been ever present so far this season and with his side facing SKC at home, followed by a trip to the Yankee Stadium – there’s certainly potential for clean sheets and assists too.

The Shot Stopper – Bobby Shuttleworth ($5.8)

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For me, Shuttleworth has been one of the standout ‘keepers so far this season, even if his defence has repeatedly let him down. Even with DC United putting three past him on Saturday, he managed to pick up 4 points, which is extremely impressive. Just imagine how many points he would collect if he were to keep a clean sheet against either the Timbers or Orlando at Gillette Stadium this week.

The Outsider – Kei Kamara ($10.9)

Kei Kamara and his comrades play just once this week, away to Seattle. ‘Why would you pick him?’, you may ask. Well, Seattle evidently still haven’t fully grown comfortable with playing on grass at home and Kamara and the Crew are finally hitting form, winning their last two, with Kamara picking up two goals. After this week, the Crew have consecutive home fixtures against Montreal Impact and Colorado, so if he doesn’t score this week, he’s bound to garner some precious points across the next few.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: New England Revolution vs Toronto

Competition: Major League Soccer – New England Revolution vs. Toronto

Stadium: Gillette Stadium – Saturday, April 9 – 16:00 ET (21:00 BST)

Match Odds: New England 1/1 – Draw 12/5 – Toronto 11/4

Match Preview

New England Revolution host Toronto at the Gillette Stadium on Saturday evening in an intriguing MLS clash between two Eastern Conference sides.

The Revs will be relieved to have got their first win on the board in their last outing, as they edged past the New York Red Bulls with a 1-0 home victory.

Jay Heaps will be reasonably satisfied with his side in the opening five games, having lost just once, but will know they need to turn draws into wins if they have ambitions of challenging for the Eastern Conference or Supporters’ Shield title.

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New England have only lost two of their last 29 home games in MLS (W18, D9), so they’ll be hoping to continue their good record at the Gillette Stadium.

Toronto’s last two games has seen them suffer consecutive 1-0 defeats to Sporting Kansas City and Colorado Rapids, as their strong start to the season has deteriorated slightly.

It was always going to be tough in the opening stages for Greg Vanney’s side, with their first eight games being away from home due to renovations at their BMO Field stadium.

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The Reds know that staying in touch with the top places in the Eastern Conference is vital over the next four weeks, as a run of four straight home games awaits at the end of this long stretch of road games.

The last meeting between these two sides saw New England beat Toronto 3-1 away from home in September 2015, while the last clash at the Gillette Stadium also saw the Revs win by the same scoreline in August 2015.

Team News

New England Revolution only have one injury concern, as defender Darrius Barnes may miss out with an ankle sprain. Other than that, Jay Heaps has a full compliment of players to call upon.

Toronto will be without midfielder Benoit Cheyrou who is suspended following his red card away at Colorado last time out. Defender Clement Simonin is out with a knee injury, while Tsubasa Endoh is a doubt with a leg problem.

Key Points

New England Revolution’s form: D/D/L/D/W

Toronto’s form: W/D/L/L

Key Stat: New England Revolution are unbeaten against Toronto in their last seven MLS meetings (W5, D2).

Key Player: Diego Fagundez – The Uruguayan has been the brighest spark for the Revs so far this season, with two goals and two assists from five appearances. He could be the difference on Saturday.

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Score Prediction

New England Revolution 2-1 Toronto – Neither side has been entirely convincing in the early stages of this MLS season. But New England will fancy themselves to edge this one on home soil. Toronto will provide a stiff test, but this run of away games may be starting to take its toll.

2016 MLS Season Preview: New England Revolution

As the 2016 MLS season edges closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what New England Revolution will be striving for this season.

New England Revolution will be disappointed with the way the 2015 season went, considering they were runners-up in the 2014 MLS Cup Final. 2015 marked a drastic drop in performance despite strengthening their squad with the addition of Juan Agudelo. The highlight of last term was the six-game win streak from the beginning of August through to the middle of September. However, the five-game losing streak in June through to July balanced that out to make it a rather average season. With only one win in their final five matches they also failed to finish strongly and they will need to turn things around quickly in 2016 to ensure they remain competitive at the very top of the Eastern Conference.

Last season’s finish:

Eastern Conference – Position: 5th – P34 – W14 – D8 – L12

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What needs to change this year?

It sounds so simple, but they will need to score more goals and stop conceding so many if they are to improve this year. On various occasions last term they failed to have the clinicism needed to see out games and that is something that needs addressing this year. On the defensive side of the ball, they shipped a total of 35 goals away from home compared to just 12 at Gillette Stadium, which speaks volumes for their defensive performances in front of their own fans. But their poor away form negates the good work of that home form. Consistency is key in every aspect of football and a more consistent Revs team may surpass expectations this term. They will need to adapt to the loss of Jermaine Jones and doing so quickly will dictate how they perform in 2016.

Key changes to squad:

Ins: Sambinha – Defender, Jordan McCrary – Defender, Xavier Kouassi  Midfielder & Gershon Koffie  Midfielder

Outs: Trevor Spangenberg – Goalkeeper, Kevin Alston – Defender, Jeremy Hall – Defender, Timi Mulgrew – Midfielder, Tyler Rudy – Midfielder, Jermaine Jones – Midfielder, Andy Dorman –Midfielder & Sean Okoli  Forward

Key Player:

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Lee Nguyen – Midfielder – USMNT international Nguyen was the most creative player for the Revs once again last season, despite failing to match his fine numbers from the 2014 campaign, and we’re expecting another influential season this year. The loss of Jermaine Jones will affect him the most as it means he may have to drop deeper to receive the ball but his effortless poise on the ball should see New England remain dangerous in the final third regardless. He is one of league’s most creative playmakers and needs to continue to be a catalyst for the Revolution.

One to Watch:

Diego Fagundez – Midfielder – Young midfielder Fagundez is yet to make a major impact on MLS, despite impressing over the past few seasons. He has a lot of potential going forward and will hope to feature more as a starter this year as opposed to having to settle for substitute appearances. He’s been with the Revs since 2011, after signing a professional contract from their academy, so it’s time he made his mark in the team. He’s entering his sixth MLS campaign but is remarkably still just 21 years of age.

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Predicted Finish

Eastern Conference – 8th – The Revs have lost one of their key men in Jermaine Jones and will find it hard to bounce back from such a loss this term. Their late season form last season might be a glimpse of what is to come with a tougher spell for the franchise possibly on the way. We expect them to endure a tough transitional year, with a playoff push perhaps out of reach. Jay Heaps is a great coach, however, and he will be doing all he can to ensure New England Revolution remain competitive in 2016.

What are you expecting from New England Revolution in 2016?

MLS Expansion Draft – Unprotected XI

By Sam Lingwood

With the 2014 MLS Expansion Draft almost upon us, we have a look at a potential lineup made of some of the best possible players left unprotected by their clubs for the draft.

New York City FC and Orlando City SC will pick ten players each in Wednesday’s Expansion Draft and we’ve picked out 11 that could find themselves on the move.

In order for this squad to be put together, a 4-1-4-1 formation has been selected. They may have been left unprotected but these players could prove valuable at one of the expansion franchises in 2015 and beyond.

MLS Expansion Draft – Unprotected XI

MLS Expansion Draft – Unprotected XI

Goalkeeper: Donovan Ricketts – Portland Timbers

The 2013 Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year, you can’t look past Donovan Ricketts. He brings experience and a safe pair of hands you can rely on. Has been in MLS since 2009 and has one MLS Cup title to his name.

Right-back: Dan Gargan – LA Galaxy

Another lad who has bundles of experience at MLS level, Dan Gargan is an intriguing option. A consistently solid level of performances last term make him a standout choice if New York City or Orlando City are looking for a right-back.

Centre-backs: AJ Soares & Carlos Salcedo – New England Revolution & Real Salt Lake

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The centre-back pairing are formidable. AJ Soares had a high standard of performances last year, and is at a great age to put in even better displays at the back in the hope he can push on and win the MLS Cup in 2015 with whoever he ends up with, so long as he stays in MLS. Carlos Salcedo is a young talent who didn’t feature consistently last season. However, he’s a great prospect and with the right experience around him, he will thrive in the scenario presented.

Left-back: Heath Pearce – Montreal Impact

Heath Pearce is another experienced defender to shepherd either team through their inaugral season in Major League Soccer. He has a great CV to boast off, and at 30 he still has some good years left in the tank. A sound left-back who will get the job done if selected.

Defensive-midfield: Hendry Thomas – FC Dallas

Previous teams include Wigan Athletic when they were in the English Premier League. Hendry Thomas is a consistently high performer for his home nation Honduras and he represented them once again at the 2014 World Cup. Injury restricted him to just 10 appearances for FC Dallas in 2014 but he is worth the gamble.

Right-midfield: Diego Fagundez – New England Revolution

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Diego Fagundez is picked to play on the right wing for this lineup. The 19-year-old playmaker has plenty of pace, talent and technique. Will be around for years and could be terrorising defences with one of the expansion franchises next season.

Central-midfield: Ben Speas – Columbus Crew

Another young lad, Ben Speas put in some good performances when selected last term and the 23-year-old will be hoping for more game time next season as he looks to build and push on to greater things with whoever he plays for in 2015.

Central-midfield: Peguy Luyindula – New York Red Bulls

Peguy Luyindula may be 35-years-old but the French playmaker showed that he can still be a difference-maker during the MLS Playoffs this season. Five goals and one assist in 26 regular appearances in 2014 make Luyindula an interesting option. He then netted three goals in five playoff games for the Red Bulls before they were knocked out by New England.

Left-midfield: Bobby Convey – New York Red Bulls

Bobby Convey offers some more EPL experience after spending five years with Reading before returning to MLS in 2009. At 31, he still has some talent left in the tank to help see either New York City FC and Orlando City succeed in their debut season.

Forward: Patrick Mullins – New England Revolution

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Patrick Mullins put in a great performance off the bench in the MLS Cup Final on Sunday and the rookie was impressively consistent in his first season. Looking forward to bigger and better things from this lad next year.

This looks like a good team, playing a solid formation and they would probably do well as a squad in MLS. It will be great to see who is chosen in Wednesday’s draft and how they all get on next year.

How well would the Unprotected XI do if they were an MLS side – how many of them will be selected on Wednesday?

5 young MLS stars to watch out for in 2015

With just the MLS Cup Final to play and the 2014 season close to completion, we take a look at five MLS prospects that have lit up the league this season and look set for bright futures.

These young stars are already key players on their teams but will only improve as time goes on and they could be set for huge campaign’s in 2015.

1. Diego Fagundez – New England Revolution

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At 19 years of age, Fagundez has become one of the brightest talents in MLS over the past two seasons having made a breakthrough with the New England Revolution. He has had limited game time since the arrival of USMNT star Jermaine Jones at the franchise.

But he should be set for a great 2015 campaign, and hopefully we will see him at some point in Sunday’s MLS Cup Final.

2. Fabian Castillo – FC Dallas

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Castillo is an explosive winger who is comfortable on either wing. His exceptional dribbling skills have left defenders dazed all season and adding ten goals to Dallas’s tally has made him a great asset for the team.

At just 22, we’re expecting big things from the young man.

3. Tesho Akindele – FC Dallas

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Major League Soccer Rookie of the Year, Akindele, has been superb since breaking into the team. Blas Perez is still the first-choice forward but with eight goals in 29 appearances Akindele has showed great promise.

He and Castillo could make Dallas even more of a force in MLS next season.

4. Gyasi Zardes – LA Galaxy

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The most prolific of our five picks, Zardes has become a key player for the Galaxy this year, and has been a valued partner for MLS MVP Robbie Keane. Netting 16 goals this term has made him a huge asset for LA and he should only improve heading into next season.

Can he finish off a great year with an MLS Cup winners medal on Sunday?

5. Joao Plata – Real Salt Lake

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At 5’2 he’s the shortest player in MLS history, yet he has an abundance of talent. Plata is a compact, yet explosive forward that is comfortable on either foot. He has finally settled in MLS after his stint at Toronto FC and looks at home with Real Salt Lake.

He netted 13 goals in 28 appearances this season and is huge threat for RSL. There is more to come from the Ecuadorian.

Who do you think is the best young talent in MLS right now?

MLS: 5 key takeaways from week 11

It was another dramatic weekend of Major League Soccer action, and despite key players from several teams absent at World Cup training camps, the quality of the league still shone through. There were 28 goals in the nine matches this weekend, here are our key takeaways from the action:

 

1. World Cup snubs inspire strikers.

Jermain Defoe, Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins all scored this weekend, the perfect response to their World Cup snubs with their National teams. They would have all be extremely disappointed not to have made their 23-man squads for Brazil, but reacted in the best way possible by netting goals immediately. All three of them will need to continue to score the goals and boost their clubs chances, while showing their National managers exactly what they’re missing out on.

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2. New England are unstoppable in attack.

The Revs scored five goals for the second consecutive week, as they beat the Philadelphia Union 5-3 to record their first ever win at PPL Park. Their attacking force is playing some excellent stuff, and they counter-attack teams perfectly now. Patrick Mullins got his third in as many weeks, and he is spearheading the devastating offence, with Teal Bunbury and Diego Fagundez constant threats behind. Check out our full review here.

 

3. Argentinian’s and Portland is a good match.

Four Argentinian players starred in the dramatic 3-3 draw between the Portland Timbers and Columbus Crew in Portland on Saturday night, with three of them getting on the scoresheet. Federico Higuain was the standout performer as he scored twice and got one assist for Columbus, including a sensational lobbed effort that looped into the back of the net.

Portland saw Maximiliano Urruti open the scoring, with Gaston Fernandez netting a late goal to secure the draw. Diego Valeri was also instrumental throughout for the Timbers, and his cross ended up finding Fernandez late on as Argentine’s stole the show.

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4. LA Galaxy are not looking good.

The Galaxy are not in the best shape at the moment, as they sit second bottom of the Western Conference and have not won in four games now. Their 1-0 loss in Houston was their third loss in eight games, and they have only won twice this season. They are typically better in the second half of the season and will be relying on that if they are to make the playoffs as expected. Landon Donovan is now absent with the USMNT and the Galaxy have only scored one in their past three. Things can only improve, stating with their home game against FC Dallas this Wednesday.

 

5. Real Salt Lake can’t lose.

Salt Lake are still the only remaining unbeaten side in Major League Soccer this season following their 2-1 victory against the Colorado Rapids in the Rocky Mountain Cup game on Saturday night. They are the best team in MLS right now, and are winning games despite not looking at their best, the key ingredient for potential champions. They have won three on the spin now, and will hope to add to that when they welcome FC Dallas on Sunday.

 

 

Five things we learnt in New England’s attacking masterclass against Philadelphia

New England Revolution recorded their fourth successive win as they beat Philadelphia Union 5-3 on Saturday night, the Revs first ever win at PPL Park and they moved to the top of the Eastern Conference. Here are our takeaways from another thrilling MLS game.

 

1. New England are so effective on the counter-attack.

The Revs put on a counter-attacking show for the second week in a row, and scored five for the second time in a week as well. They picked up where they left off in last weekend’s 5-0 drubbing over the Seattle Sounders, soaking up Philadelphia pressure before hitting them on the break time and time again.

 

2. Teal Bunbury a key part of the Revs system.

Bunbury epitomises the counter-attacking tactics that the Revs deploy, as his pace is so devastating on the break. Bunbury is the man who will always look to get in behind, and with the likes of Lee Nguyen able to send passes over opposing defences, it will work more often than not. Bunbury can play on either win, or lead the line himself, and his ability was seen in the Revs second goal, as he made a diagonal run that the Union defence didn’t deal with before teeing up Diego Fagundez who slotted in.

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3. Philadelphia missed Maurice Edu.

The Union were unlucky to be two down so early on, as they were in control of the game but were not clinical enough, and paid for this. Maurice Edu’s presence in the middle of the park was missed, as he would have provided them with more stability and could have made the difference in the final third. The American midfielder would have got a foothold in the game and could have orchestrated Philly in such an open contest. Edu is with the USMNT at training camp in Stanford, but the Union will already be counting down to his return.

 

4. New England’s free-flowing attacking unit is a joy to watch and can hurt every team in MLS

New England have now scored 10 in their last two, and seem to only be improving in an attacking sense. They lead 5-1 in the second-half before Philly grabbed a couple of goals late on, and their attacking play is simply breathtaking at times.

The attacking unit of Patrick Mullins, Teal Bunbury and Diego Fagundez make it so difficult for opposing defences to mark, and with Lee Nguyen and Daigo Kobayashi making runs from midfield, it’s almost impossible to stop them. Nguyen is the man who makes everything tick, and is playing some excellent football but the attacking movement ahead of him must make it a joy to play at the moment. They are blitzing teams around the league at the moment, and will do the same to many more.

 

5. Sebastien Le Toux doesn’t miss penalties.

Philadelphia will be disappointed to have lost the game, but a positive is that they didn’t let their heads drop at 5-1 and battled back to finish the game 5-3. Sebastien Le Toux converted the final goal of the game from the penalty spot, continuing his 100% record from the spot in Philadelphia. He is now nine from nine as a Union player and can always be trusted from 12-yards out.

Highlights via MLS on YouTube: