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?


Will Real Salt Lake struggle in a fiercely competitive Western Conference?

With Major League Soccer as competitive as ever, Keave Tollington asks whether Real Salt Lake will struggle to maintain their consistency in a tough looking Western Conference in 2015.

The Western Conference has arguably never looked tougher as we head into the 2015 MLS season. Sporting Kansas City and Houston Dynamo have been moved in from the Eastern Conference to make room for expansion clubs Orlando City and New York City and that is bound to have an effect on teams who already struggle in the fiercely competitive Western Conference.

Real Salt Lake, who received a thrashing from eventual MLS Cup Champions LA Galaxy to end their season in the MLS Playoffs last year, are one of the teams that will face the brunt of the blood bath that will be the 2015 Western Conference. Whilst RSL are still widely considered one of the best teams in Major League Soccer, it has now been six years since they won MLS Cup.

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Real Salt Lake have seen several changes to their squad this offseason, with perhaps the biggest losses conceded when midfielder Ned Grabavoy and defender Chris Wingert were picked by New York City in the 2014 MLS Expansion Draft. They were both left unprotected and for Wingert the move sees him return to his home state. Both have been key assets to RSL since they joined in 2007 (Wingert) and 2009 (Grabavoy) and will surely be missed by everyone in Salt Lake.

Perhaps the most exciting signing for RSL fans so far this offseason is Jamison Olave, who is returning to Real Salt Lake after having left in 2012 to play with the New York Red Bulls.

Olave is somewhat a club legend, making 120 appearances for RSL from 2008-2012. In the 2010 season he anchored a backline that let in just 20 goals in 30 matches. He is widely regarded as one of the best centre-backs in MLS and is known for his combination of speed, strength and size.

Salt Lake fans will be hoping that the return of Olave will vastly improve their chances of winning the 2015 MLS Cup as he was a very prominent figure in the 2009 season when RSL took home the championship. As well as winning the MLS Cup, Olave was part of the squad that advanced to the 2010/11 CONCACAF Champions League Final.

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In 2008 the Colombian scored the first goal in Rio Tinto Stadium history and also scored the critical away goal against Saprissa in the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League that allowed them to progress.

With Chris Schuler, Tony Beltran and Olave making up a heavy backline, Real Salt Lake’s defence is going to be intimidating to even the strongest MLS teams this season. However, the changing face of the Western Conference will definitely make it difficult to continue the club’s string of five consecutive seasons with at least 15 wins and 50 points and seven straight playoffs appearances.

Real Salt Lake meet Portland Timbers at Providence Park in their season opener on March 7th. Their first home game is against Philadelphia Union on March 13.

Is Ronald Zubar the man to fix the New York Red Bulls defensive problems?

New York Red Bulls are a club in transition following the departure of a number of key players since the end of the 2014 season.

They’ve lost numerous defenders in the shape of Ibrahim Sekagya, Ambroise Oyongo, Richard Eckersley and most crucially, their mainstay at centre back, Jamison Olave.

After two years in New York, the Colombian has returned to former club Real Salt Lake where he spent four years between 2008 and 2012, and has certainly left a gaping hole to fill at the heart of the Red Bulls defence.

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They have brought in young defender, Andrew Jean-Baptiste and have also re-signed Damien Perrinelle, but Ronald Zubar has to be seen as the key replacement for Olave.

The 29-year-old Frenchman brings bags of experience into the dressing room having played at Marseille, Wolves and more recently Ajaccio.

It’s crucial that he settles in quickly and adapts to life in MLS because he can almost guarantee that he’s going to be called into action immediately.

Zubar v Olave

Ronald Zubar should prove to be an ideal replacement as his defensive statistics are slightly ahead of Jamison Olave with less goals conceded-per-game when he’s on the pitch.

He also helps provide the team with more regular clean sheets, which is something that the Red Bulls need to desperately improve on, having kept just six in 34 games over the course of the last regular season.

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The New York Red Bulls line-up is going to have a slightly new look about it in 2015, and new head coach Jesse Marsch will be hoping he can get the players to click in order to have a successful campaign.

Marsch seems in confident mood that he’ll be able to do so and told the club website, “once we add Zubar, we’ll have rounded out our team really well. The only other potential piece is figuring out how to complement Bradley Wright-Phillips up top, or at times if he’s not available, that we’re confident and always can supplement that role as well.”

Is Ronald Zubar the man to steady the ship at New York Red Bulls?

New York Red Bulls make huge profit on Jamison Olave trade to Real Salt Lake – report

Jamison Olave has left the New York Red Bulls to rejoin Real Salt Lake in a trade for allocation money, and the Red Bulls have reportedly doubled their investment in the powerful centre-back.

The 33-year-old Colombian moved to New York two seasons ago from Real Salt Lake, along with Fabian Espindola in a trade for allocation money reportedly worth $150,000.

But the Red Bulls have made profit on that deal just a couple of years later by receiving around $200,000 in allocation funds from RSL.

Olave won the 2010 MLS Defender of the Year award while with Real Salt Lake and fills the void left by Nat Borchers departure to the Portland Timbers.

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The move does leave the Red Bulls short of defensive options as the club have also declined the option to extend Ibrahim Sekagya’s contract.

“This was a difficult decision for the club but was made mainly due to salary cap considerations,” said Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh. “It’s disappointing to see a player like Jamison leave the club, but we want to thank him for his service to the New York Red Bulls and we wish him all the best on his return to his previous club.”

With a large amount of allocation funds coming in from the trade of Olave, and plenty of free space on the salary cap from Thierry Henry’s departure, the Red Bulls will expect to be busy this offseason.

After getting to within one game of the MLS Cup Final in 2014, New York will be looking to enjoy another solid campaign but they must ensure they replace lost players during the post-season if they are to do so.

Is Jamison Olave a major loss for the New York Red Bulls?

MLS News Roundup: December 10

It’s been another busy day for clubs across Major League Soccer. The 2014 Expansion Draft saw New York City FC and Orlando City draft ten players each ahead of their debut campaigns in MLS, while there was also a MLS Waiver Draft. The trade window then reopened and will stay open until tomorrow evening.

To summarise all of today’s top stories we’ve rounded up the key moves and developments in one place here:

1. New York City and Orlando City bulk up squad ahead of debut season

The 2014 MLS Expansion Draft was the most interesting event of the day and one that New York City and Orlando have had in their diaries for a long time. It was over in a flash as both expansion franchises picked ten players each to give their first ever MLS squads a true identity.

All the expansion draft results can be found here.

2. Nigel Reo-Coker moves to Montreal Impact in one of just three Waiver Draft picks

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The MLS Waiver Draft followed the Expansion Draft as all 20 teams had the opportunity to select one of 58 players on the waiver wire. But only three teams took advantage of the opportunity as three former Chivas USA players were picked up. Nigel Reo-Coker moved to Montreal Impact with the first pick, with Leandro Barrera and Bobby Burling moving to San Jose Earthquakes and Colorado Rapids respectively.

3. Jamison Olave leaves New York Red Bulls to rejoin Real Salt Lake in trade

Real Salt Lake re-acquired powerful centre-back Jamison Olave from the New York Red Bulls in exchange for allocation money today. The 33-year-old, who won MLS Defender of the Year while with RSL in 2010, made over 50 appearances for the Red Bulls in two seasons. Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh revealed he was traded for salary cap reasons.

4. Daniel Lovitz traded back to Toronto FC despite New York City Expansion Draft selection

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Daniel Lovitz has had a busy day. The 23-year-old midfielder was picked by New York City in the fourth round of the MLS Expansion Draft on Wednesday. Though he was immediately traded back to Toronto FC in return for allocation money. Lovitz was selected in the second round of the SuperDraft last year and made 18 appearances in his debut season.

5. Eric Gehrig on the move twice as he lands move back to hometown Chicago

Eric Gehrig was another player who had an overly active day on the move. The defender left the Columbus Crew as he was selected by Orlando City in the tenth round of the Expansion Draft. But he was promptly traded to the Chicago Fire in exchange for a 2016 SuperDraft second round pick. The 26-year-old made 46 appearances in four seasons with the Crew.