MLS Fantasy Focus: Drop your Revs defenders ahead of Round 9

By Jamie Dawe & Sam Martin

Another double gameweek provided us with the full return to form of 2015 Supporters’ Shield champions New York Red Bulls, NYCFC’s first home victory of the season and the frighteningly common sighting of another beautiful Didier Drogba goal. Five years ago, who could’ve imagined David Villa, Didier Drogba and Giovani Dos Santos all scoring on the same weekend in the same league – with that league being in the U.S.!!?

Week 9 Review

The Good:

Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew Jordan Morris

Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris ($8.2) scored for his third-straight league game as Seattle made it three home wins in a row. The Sounders are certainly making up for their sloppy start to the season – possibly affected by finally having real grass at their home stadium, CenturyLink Field. Likewise, the Red Bulls, having won just one of their opening seven fixtures, made it back-to-back wins with their 4-0 victory over a previously high-flying FC Dallas side this week. Mike Grella ($8.1) has scored in both of their last two games and picked up 9 points for the week, impressively adding to his 14 from the week before. Remaining in New York, NYCFC’s Spanish legend David Villa ($11.4) netted yet another double in his side’s 3-2 win against an uncharacteristically poor Vancouver. This brace, plus a solid performance against Montreal on Wednesday, gained Villa an unbeatable 21 points for the week. Despite Villa adding his 5th and 6th goals of the season, it was only NYCFC’s second win of the year and their first at home! Carlos Rivas ($9.4) netted a 90th minute equaliser to earn his Orlando side a point on their travels away to New England Revolution. However, OCSC are still on a four-match winless run that they will be desperate to curb.

The Bad:

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It was a poor week for LA Galaxy and especially their former Chelsea defender Ashley Cole ($7.7), who picked up two yellow cards within 32 seconds of each other. The first was for time wasting, with the second given out for a poor tackle, which saw LA reduced to 10 men. This was Cole’s first red card since 2012 and meant he obtained 0 points for the week…and at least a one match ban. San Jose’s Anibal Godoy ($7.2) saw red a short way into the second half in his team’s 1-1 draw away to Philadelphia. The Earthquakes remain winless on the road this season and Godoy’s contribution certainly didn’t help their cause last weekend. It was also a poor weekend defensively for FC Dallas, who let in four against a Red Bulls side that had previously lost their ability to score! Following a 3-0 defeat in Round 7 against the Whitecaps, Dallas have lost top spot in the Western Conference. Goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez ($5.9) will be bitterly disappointed with the loss, as he has only just been reinstated as the No. 1 after being ousted by Chris Seitz ($4.7).

Week 10 Preview

Quick Tips:

The Easy Choice: Sebastian Giovinco ($12.4)

If you are one of the small proportion of managers that does not own this Italian maestro, now is certainly the time to sign him up. Toronto play their first home game of the season against a Dallas side that have conceded seven goals in their last two games. With Giovinco’s ability to gain bonus points without even scoring, he’s a must have for Round 9.

Sebastian Giovinco Toronto FC 2016

The Low-Budget Superstar: Lamar Neagle ($7.7)

Neagle has been performing terrifically for DC United this season and it would be a shock if he fails to build on his terrific form (which has seen him pick up an average of over 5.5 points a game) against a defensively weak NYCFC backline.

The Form Pick: Shkelzen Gashi ($9.2)

Gashi has been in terrific form over the past few gameweeks, picking up two goals and two assists in April alone. His Rapids team face a strong Real Salt Lake side this weekend but that surely won’t stop the twice Swiss League top scorer from using all of the tricks in his incredibly vast book.

The Must-Sell: New England Revolution Defenders

With both Je-Vaughn Watson ($6.9) and Chris Tierney ($8.1) out injured, the Revs defence is looking depleted. They still have Andrew Farrell ($8.0) and Jose Goncalves ($8.0) fit, but I can’t see them keeping many clean sheets or gaining many bonus points with both Watson and Tierney missing. However, MLS is a notoriously unpredictable league and it’s open for the Revs backline to prove me wrong…

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Gallery: Exclusive photos from Seattle Sounders’ win against Columbus Crew

The Seattle Sounders continued their recovery with a third consecutive home win on Saturday night as Jordan Morris netted his third in as many games to seal a late 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew.

Seattle bounced back from last week’s 3-1 loss in Colorado by keeping their second clean sheet of the season to take three huge points from Columbus on Saturday.

They had to weather the storm as the Crew dominated the play in the first half. But it was Jordan Morris’s predatory instincts in the closing minutes that shone through for the Sounders as they moved up to eighth in the Western Conference.

Columbus can’t seem to build any momentum and sit ninth in the East after eight games and have yet to win away from home.

Check out exclusive photos from Saturday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer Denise McCooey.

Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew Jordan Morris Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew Dempsey Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew Jordan Morris

MLS Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs Columbus Crew

Competition: Major League Soccer – Seattle Sounders vs. Columbus Crew

Venue: CenturyLink Field – Saturday, April 30 – 16:00 ET (21:00 BST)

Match Odds: Seattle 23/20 – Draw 12/5 – Columbus 23/10

Match Preview

Seattle Sounders welcome Columbus Crew to CenturyLink Field on Saturday afternoon in another action packed weekend of MLS.

The Sounders have struggled for consistency so far in the 2016 campaign and as a result sit 9th in the Western Conference coming into the weekend.

Sigi Schmid’s side come into this tie off the back of their 3-1 loss away at Colorado in what was their fourth loss of the season. Seattle need to up their game if they are to ensure they don’t fall too far behind the top six.

This is the first of two consecutive home games for Seattle, giving them the chance to pick up some much needed points. Scoring goals has been a problem though, as they have only averaged a goal per game so far this season, so this is something they have to improve upon.

Seattle Sounders vs Philadelphia Union

Columbus Crew have also found themselves lower than expected at the start of the 2016 campaign. They sit 7th in the Eastern Conference but have recently found form.

Crew SC come into this one off the back of their 1-0 home win against Houston Dynamo – their second win on the bounce.

Gregg Berhalter’s side have lost just one in their last five and will be feeling confident heading into this one given the fact that they have scored at least twice in their last three away matches against Seattle in all competitions.

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Team News

Seattle Sounders have five injury concerns. Roman Torres remains out, while Clint Dempsey, Michael Farfan, Nelson Valdez and Andreas Ivanchitz are all doubts. Brad Evans is suspended for this tie following his red card last time out.

Columbus Crew have four injury concerns. Gaston Sauro, Tony Tchani, Corey Ashe and Mohammed Saeid are all doubts ahead of this tie.

Key Points

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

Columbus Crew’s last five: D/D/L/W/W

Key Stat: Columbus Crew have failed to win their last six away games in Major League Soccer.

Key Player: Jordan Morris – The Sounders forward has scored two in his last two games and will be hoping his influence can get his side back to winning ways.

Seattle Sounders vs Philadelphia Union Jordan Morris

Score Prediction

Seattle Sounders 1-2 Columbus Crew – Seattle’s struggles to continue this weekend against a Columbus Crew side who have regained confidence. The Sounders’ lack of goals so far this season has been a troubling factor which could cost them once again this weekend.

MLS Fantasy Focus: Time to invest in Crew attackers for Week 7?

By Jamie Dawe and Sam Martin

Double delirium for the Rapids in Week 6, alongside a duo of poor performances for the Red Bulls made last week a complete reversal of form from the 2015 season. However, FC Dallas have stayed true to last season’s form and top the Supporters’ Shield rankings with 17 points from 8 games, six of which were gained in Week 6 with comfortable wins over SKC and the Timbers. A first goal for Seattle’s Jordan Morris ($8.1) could signal the start of things to come from this much-hyped youngster. Overall, Week 6 was a positive one, with plenty of things to build upon in the coming weeks of the campaign.

Week 6 Review

The Good:

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Only six minutes into his MLS return for Montreal, Didier Drogba’s ($11.5) cheeky back heel leveled the score up at 1-1, as Montreal went on to earn three huge points away to Chicago. Impact teammate Ignacio Piatti ($10.6) netted a stunning 90th-minute winner with a curled effort from the edge of the box in a game dominated by Montreal. Meanwhile, the Sounders’ revival continues as Seattle beat Philadelphia 2-1 with defender Chad Marshall ($8.6) heading home from a corner to score for the second consecutive week. While it may have been a disappointing defeat for New York City, World Cup winning forward ‘El Guaje’, David Villa ($11.3) netted a brace – his third and fourth goals of the season. An emphatic victory for LA Galaxy was was started and continued by a Giovani Dos Santos ($10.9) double, with the Galaxy running away as 4-1 winners in Houston. Portland’s Fanendo Adi ($10.2) also continued his fine form, netting his second brace of the campaign against San Jose. Michael Barrios ($8.1) netted in both of Dallas’ games, which leaves the Western Conference leaders on a six-game unbeaten run. On the theme of unbeaten runs, Real Salt Lake remain the only MLS side yet to lose a league match this season. Juan Manuel Martinez ($8.5) netted early in the second half to make it consecutive 1-0 victories. How long can this incredible run continue for RSL?

The Bad:

Seattle Sounders vs Philadelphia Union Red Card Alberg

Philadelphia midfielder Roland Alberg ($8.1) picked up two yellow cards within 53 minutes of his side’s 2-1 defeat to Seattle. Columbus Crew’s Tyson Wahl ($6.0) conceded a penalty that teammate Michael Parkhurst then saw red for in a case of mistaken identity in his side’s eventual win over NYCFC. Wahl has since been handed the suspension that Parkhurst was wrongly given. Portland’s Diego Valeri ($10.3) also saw red in the dying moments of Portland’s 3-1 triumph, picking up a 90th minute yellow and 95th minute red card. The Red Bulls made it six defeats from seven as the star club from the 2015 season are being let down by key attacking players such as Bradley Wright-Phillips ($10.5), Lloyd Sam ($8.9) and Mike Grella ($7.8), with the team having only netted five goals from their seven matches so far. A club with such high expectations will be expecting to push on sooner rather than later. Houston Dynamo dropped to the bottom of the Western Conference after being outclassed by LA Galaxy, despite taking the lead within the first minute. The Dynamo have only managed one win so far this campaign (admittedly it was a resounding 5-0 romp against Dallas, with this being Dallas’ only defeat). It summarises the thrilling unpredictability of the league!

Week 7 Preview

Must Buy:

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With Columbus finally returning to form in their victory over NYCFC, now’s the time to stock up on their star players. When Kei Kamara ($10.9), Ethan Finlay ($10.7) and Federico Higuain ($10.3) are firing on all cylinders, they are an unbeatable side. Looking ahead to upcoming DGW’s, adding some SKC players would certainly seem wise. Nuno Coelho ($8.3) is quickly building a name for himself in Kansas City, along with their only two other ever-present starters, goalkeeper Tim Melia ($5.7) and French fullback Amadou Dia ($6.0).

Must Sell:

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Chicago Fire only play once in the next three weeks, so budget-hogging players like David Accam ($9.2) and Kennedy Igboananike ($8.1) need to be discarded for now. Portland are relying incredibly heavily on Adi and the now suspended Valeri, and won’t play in Week 7. Even when they do return to action, it might be worth transferring out Lucas Melano ($8.7), who is extremely pricy for a player that’s yet to really shine. Injuries to Marco Pappa ($8.2), Matt Hedges ($9.0) and Alvas Powell ($7.1) mean these three players will be dead weight for at least the next two or three game weeks and replacements should be brought in.

Who will you be transferring in for Week 7?

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?

MLS Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: Major League Soccer – Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting Kansas City

Venue: CenturyLink Field – Sunday, March 6 – 19:00 ET (00:00 GMT) 

Match Odds: Seattle 5/6 – Draw 5/2– Kansas City 16/5

Match Preview

Seattle Sounders kick off their 2016 campaign by welcoming Western Conference rivals Sporting Kansas City to CenturyLink Field on Sunday evening.

Both these sides fell short in the playoffs last season. Reaching the 2016 playoffs will be the minimum requirement once again and both sides can send out a real signal of intent here.

The Sounders will be looking to improve on last season’s fourth place finish in the Western Conference and a key start to the campaign is vital for getting early points on the board.

Sigi Schmid will be relatively pleased with Seattle’s preseason – they won their last two games after struggling with three consecutive defeats. Preseason can’t be looked into in too much depth as it doesn’t compare to the intensity of the real action, so it will be interesting to see how Seattle get going here.

Their two CONCACAF Champions League games against Club America will have helped preparations despite crashing out 5-3 on aggregate.

Sounders started the 2015 campaign with a 3-0 win and will look to replicate that this weekend. Their midseason wobble, where they lost six in seven games, probably cost them the Supporters’ Shield – they cannot afford a repeat of that this time around.

Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas Fans

Sporting Kansas City struggled to get going in their 2015 campaign. It took them four attempts to get their first win and they will be looking to get off to a flyer here in what is a tricky opener.

Kansas City are unbeaten in their last three outings against Seattle, winning one and drawing two, and a win here would be a remarkable confidence booster to get things going for their 2016 regular season.

Peter Vermes’ side had an unbeaten preseason and will be looking to use that momentum heading into this tie. They finished 6th in the Western Conference last season and will be looking to improve on that and challenge for the Supporters’ Shield this time around.

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Team News

Seattle Sounders have no injury concerns heading into the new campaign. The squad has undergone a little reshape though. The departure of Obafemi Martins will be a big role to fill and it appears Schmid is entrusting Jordan Morris with that task. He penned the highest paid contact for a homegrown player in Major League Soccer history so big things are expected from him. Joevin Jones and Michael Farfan will be hoping to make their Sounders debuts.

Sporting Kansas City will also be pleased not to have any major injuries heading into this one. However Ike Opara and Graham Zusi are doubts after picking up knocks towards the end of preseason. The squad has had minimal change which could be a plus for them this season, as players will continue to develop a great understanding of each other on the field. New signings Justin Mapp and Brad Davis will hope to feature.

Key Points

Seattle Sounders’ preseason form: L/L/L/W/W

Sporting Kansas City’s preseason form: W/D/D/D

Key Stat: Goals – Seattle have scored at least two goals in six of their last seven home Major League Soccer outings.

Key Player: Clint Dempsey – The obvious choice! Dempsey is easily the Sounders’ key man, as he makes them tick. His role in an injury-hit 2015 campaign was still immense. In the 20 games he featured in, Seattle only lost three times and he contributed to them finding the net 20 times, with ten goals and ten assists.

Forward Clint Dempsey celebrates his second goal after scoring from close range on a corner kick. All images courtesy of Sounders FC Communications. Photo: Jane Gershovich.

Forward Clint Dempsey celebrates his second goal after scoring from close range on a corner kick. Image courtesy of Sounders FC Communications. Photo: Jane Gershovich.

Score Prediction

Seattle Sounders 2-1 Sporting Kansas City – Seattle to start their 2016 regular season with a win. They won their last two games of preseason before their Champions League clashes, and they will have put them into good shape. The Sounders should make home advantage count in an action packed game. The last meeting between these sides was a 0-0 draw and Seattle will not want to continue their winless run against SKC in an important opener.

MLS Fantasy 2016: What you need to succeed

By Jamie Dawe

Every year the MLS Fantasy minefield blows up anyone who hasn’t fully considered their team selection or their formation. Many people watch their team slide down the leaderboard for the first month while they helplessly panic behind their computer screens. However, there are a few key things you ought to know before you set up your team for this year’s competition.

The New Rules

There are now only 16 players on your roster (rather than 18), but each team still has the same $120.0 budget, meaning you can fill your side with more stars than ever in 2016.

Points are now scored for players who suffer four fouls in a game, for every 35 passes that are completed with 85% accuracy and also for every four shots taken in a game. In addition, defenders and defensive midfielders can score points for clearances, interceptions, tackles and blocks. This will make players like Osvaldo Alonso ($8.5) and Matias Laba ($7.5) even more attractive propositions.

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The Roster

Having two goalkeepers gives you room to have a week-in-week-out starting goalkeeper and also a young up-and-coming ‘keeper who may get game time later in the season. I wouldn’t recommend spending anymore than $11.0 of your budget on the two goalkeeper positions.

Having five defenders gives you the opportunity to splash out on a back five if you’re the kind of manager who likes banking on reliable centre-backs who rack up clean sheets, interceptions and the odd headed goal. Many prefer to use just three defenders, with attacking full-backs becoming increasingly popular too.

The limit of five midfielders now means that building a successful five-man midfield is significantly harder to achieve. However, the increased budget per player could mean that a spend of $45.0 on your midfield may not be terminal.

Four strikers gives you the chance to have at least one low priced striker to make room elsewhere for a big golden boot challenger. Cheap options like Dominic Oduro ($7.5) and Tesho Akindele ($7.5) could become great investments for the season.

The Formation

There’s only one formation I can recommend for the first weeks of the fantasy season and that’s a 3-5-2. In the unpredictable and occasionally maddening league which is Major League Soccer, the only position you can truly rely on is that of the central midfielder. Regardless of the match, quality of the team or the scoreline – passing bonuses are sure to be gained and so I see players like Dax McCarty ($9.0) and Tony Tchani ($8.0) as safe bets for early points. You could also try a 3-4-3 or 4-4-2 if one of your strikers/defenders is likely to play in a midfield role. In my view, any other formation would be complete anarchism before the tone for the season has been set.

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The Must Haves

The increased budget per player has opened up teams to have three or four massive stars in their starting XI. This is why players like last year’s top points scorer Sebastian Giovinco ($11.5) are definitely worth having in your team for the start of the season. Another player along these lines is Ethan Finlay ($10.5), who will also benefit from the new passing bonus points.

However, this doesn’t mean that the most expensive players are always going to be the highest scoring. Strikers like Innocent Emeghara ($9.0) and Maximiliano Urruti ($8.5) are sure to get more playing time this season and they are both proven goalscorers. In defence, Dallas’ No. 1 Jesse Gonzalez ($6.0) might be worth an investment as FC Dallas have four home games in their first six. This home start makes Zach Loyd ($7.5) a steal at this value. On the cheaper side, Josh Saunders ($5.0) may suddenly have a less porous defensive line in front of him as NYCFC have dramatically bolstered their defensive options this offseason. Four home games in the first five won’t hurt either.

The Risks

A few players picked in this year’s SuperDraft may go straight into the starting lineup of some MLS sides. For example, Joshua Yaro ($6.0) and Brandon Vincent ($5.0) are bound to get plenty of playing time. Jordan Morris ($8.5) joining Seattle Sounders was possibly the biggest deal of the offseason and it’s anyone’s guess whether he’ll hit the ground running, or whether he’ll take more time to progress. The Colorado Rapids’ biggest offseason signing was Shkelzen Gashi ($9.0), who had been the top scorer in the Swiss Super League for the last two seasons. Whether he can single-handedly turn around the Rapids’ dreadful scoring record, I don’t know. The Rapids also have talented defender/midfielder Marlon Hairston ($5.0) returning from injury, but he might not be thrown straight back into the Starting XI from the outset.

The No-No’s

DC United goalkeeper Bill Hamid ($6.0) will be out for at least the first three months of the season and should be ignored. MLS Cup winners Portland have a new left back in Chris Klute ($7.0) but he could easily miss the first games of the season with a knee injury. Nigel De Jong ($9.0) is a new presence in the LA Galaxy midfield, but he is not known for his scoring exploits and is rather more known for racking up yellow cards, so I personally would wait and see if the new scoring system favours him. Also, for his price and his position as a forward in a fantasy squad Giovanni Dos Santos ($11.0) is probably worth a miss until he settles into his new role on the right side of in the Galaxy side.

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The Best Bench Warmers

Cameron Porter ($5.0) should gain significant value if he gets the playing time he was in line to receive before his horrific injury at the beginning of the 2015 season. Along these same lines, Andre Blake ($5.0) could be a starting ‘keeper for Philadelphia this year – and if he’s given the chance – he could become the best bargain ‘keeper in the league. Hadji Barry ($5.0) could also be given the chance to prove himself in a faster, more fluent Orlando City attack – and if he plays to his potential, his price will skyrocket very quickly.

This is just a brief overview of what can be an extremely in-depth game. However, if I were to tell you anymore of my secrets, there would be no point in picking your own team…

All I can do is wish you luck and may the fantasy force be with you!

Who do you think is an absolute must-have in MLS Fantasy 2016?

2016 MLS Season Preview: Seattle Sounders

As the 2016 MLS season edges ever closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what the Seattle Sounders could achieve this season.

Seattle Sounders had a solid 2015 campaign, finishing 4th – nine points off top spot – but they will still be disappointed they fell short in the playoffs once again. They reached the Conference Semifinals, before being knocked out on penalties to eventual winners and fierce rivals Portland Timbers. The Sounders will expect nothing less than reaching the playoffs once again in 2016 as head coach Sigi Schmid has made some key additions to his squad. He has lost a talisman in Obafemi Martins but there is plenty to be positive about heading into the new campaign. Seattle ended the 2015 regular season unbeaten in eight games and will now hope to start 2016 in the same rich vein of form.

Last Season’s Finish:

Western Conference – Position: 4th – P34 – W15 – D6 – L13

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What Needs To Change This Year?

Seattle need to lose less games – it’s as simple as that. They only won two more games than they lost, which ultimately cost them from potentially winning the Western Conference in 2015. The Sounders are a side quite capable of beating any opponent but they mustn’t rely too heavily on their key players. Clint Dempsey is obviously a massive influence on the side, so if in the unfortunate occurrence of him picking up knocks, they have to find a way of still picking up points. Schmid’s side have three of their first five fixtures at CenturyLink Field so they need to make that a fortress once again and get off to a flyer.

Key Changes:

InsTyler Miller – Goalkeeper, Joevin Jones – Defender, Jordan Schweitzer – Midfielder, Michael Farfan – Midfielder, Nathan Sturgis – Midfielder & Jordan Morris – Forward

Outs: Troy Perkins – Goalkeeper, Andres Correa – Defender, Leonardo Gonzalez – Defender, Michael Azira – Midfielder, Gonzalo Pineda – Midfielder, Thomas – Midfielder, Andy Rose – Midfielder, Lamar Neagle – Midfielder, Marco Pappa – Midfielder, Chad Barrett – Forward & Andy Craven – Forward

Key Player:

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Clint Dempsey – Forward – The obvious choice. Dempsey is a standout performer for Seattle and deals amazingly well with the pressure of providing not only for his side, but also for the fans. His 2015 campaign was riddled with injury but the USMNT star was highly influential in the games he featured in – contributing to an average of a goal or assist per game (ten goals and ten assists in his 20 appearances). Seattle only lost three of the 20 games in which Dempsey played in so we can see how much he means to his side.

One to Watch:

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Jordan Morris – Forward – There is a lot of expectation on the new signing. He has penned the highest paid contact for a homegrown player in Major League Soccer history. With the departure of Obafemi Martins, Morris has some huge boots to fill, but that could play to his advantage and the youngster could quite quickly become a fan favourite for Sounders. Morris is expected to come in and play on the right side of the attack and get at opposition defenders with his pace from day one.

Predicted Finish:

Western Conference – 4th – We expect another solid season from Seattle and they should make a playoff spot quite comfortably. Sounders fans may well be expecting more than 4th from their side but as we keep mentioning the Western Conference is extremely competitive. The loss of Martins may have some impact on Sounders but we don’t consider it to be crippling to them and expect a repeat of last season’s finish in the regular season.

What are you expecting from Seattle Sounders in 2016?

PODCAST: Jordan Morris, Fernando Torres to MLS & Leicester

The usual trio of Zack Walford, Jamie Ives and Louis East sit down to talk MLS and Premier League in the latest MLSGB Podcast.

The team start by discussing Jordan Morris and his chances of success with the Seattle Sounders, before weighing in on Fernando Torres’s current link to Major League Soccer.

They finish up by revisiting Leicester City, as despite all odds, they are now favourites to win the Premier League title with just 13 games to go.

Be sure to comment below or get in touch on Twitter: @MLSGB_

Seattle Sounders secure services of Jordan Morris after months of speculation

Seattle Sounders fans can finally exhale.

Jordan Morris is returning to the club after being announced as the club’s seventh Homegrown Player signing in history earlier today, despite being linked with a move to Europe.

Morris, who joined the Sounders FC Academy in 2012 before then moving on to play college soccer for Stanford over the past three years, turned down an offer from Bundesliga club Werder Bremen in order to return to Seattle earlier this week.

And he has now penned his Sounders contract, ending months of speculation about where his professional club career would begin.

The 21-year-old striker was named as the top player in college soccer two weeks ago. He picked up the Hermann Trophy after leading Stanford to the NCAA title last month and will hope to make an immediate impact with Seattle.

Morris already has seven USMNT caps and scored his first, and only current, national team goal in a friendly against Mexico last April.

Jurgen Klinsmann is a big fan of the young forward and Morris will join the USMNT camp on Friday after performing media duties in Seattle.

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He is believed to have signed the most lucrative Homegrown Player contract in MLS history, although terms of the deal were not officially disclosed.

Seattle Sounders General Manager and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey confirmed in November that Morris had been offered the richest HG contract in league history and so he is almost certain to have penned a deal that makes that official.

Morris will join Seattle for the preseason camp after finishing his duties with the USMNT in February and could make his MLS debut when Seattle host Sporting Kansas City on the opening weekend of the 2016 season.

Do you think Jordan Morris made the right decision by choosing Seattle over Werder Bremen? Will he be a success in MLS?