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?

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MLS 2015 Season Preview: Chicago Fire

In the first of our MLS 2015 Season Previews, we take a look at what the Chicago Fire will be hoping for this year. We’ll have a new season preview up every day in the lead up to the season now so be sure to keep checking back for your team.

Chicago Fire will look to improve on what was a below par season in 2014 with the new-look squad that head coach Frank Yallop has put together. The Fire have splashed in order to improve their fortunes in 2015 following the marquee signings of Shaun Maloney, David Accam and Kennedy Igboananike to Designated Player contracts. And more additions are expected before the season gets underway.

Last season’s finish: Eastern Conference position: 9th – P34 – W6 – D18 – L10

What needs to change this year?

The Fire struggled last year with the amount of draws they accumulated and were very poor at hanging onto leads. Amazingly, Chicago managed to lose a total of 22 points from winning positions in 2014. This was the main reason for their league-high record of 18 draws (four more than any other MLS team). This season they will need to convert winning positions into points. A good way to secure these points is to find an out-and-out goalscorer, as Quincy Amarikwa only managed eight as their top scorer last season, and new DP’s Igboananike and Accam will be expected to find the net on a regular basis. It’s going to take a lot for the Fire to reach the playoffs in an even more competitive Eastern Conference this season.

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Key changes to squad:

Ins: Kennedy Igboananike – Forward (Designated Player), Shaun Maloney – Midfield/Forward (Designated Player), David Accam – Forward (Designated Player), Patrick Doody – Defender (Homegrown Player), Adailton – Defender.

Outs: Bakary Soumare – Defender, Patrick Ianni – Defender.

Key player: Shaun Maloney – Midfielder/Forward

Shaun Maloney will provide invaluable experience to a side that lacked inspiration last season when seeing off games. A creative forward who is adaptable in many formations, Yallop has made a good addition to his squad with Maloney. As a Designated Player he will command a key role in the team but do not be surprised if he plays multiple positions throughout the season as Yallop will want to use Maloney, and other versatile players like Harry Shipp, to his full advantage.

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One to watch: Harry Shipp – Midfield

A strong contender for MLS Rookie of the Year in 2014, Harry Shipp will want to follow up a solid first season by solidifying his spot in Yallop’s much-changed team. Shipp will benefit from the new additions and we fully expect him to still be a key player in a Chicago team that is out to prove a point this term.

Predicted finish: Eastern Conference – 7th

We expect a good showing from Chicago this season but we’re not convinced it will be enough for the playoffs as this is strongest the Eastern Conference has ever been. But as always, the MLS provides an entertaining watch, and anything can happen. The key will be how quickly all the new signings can gel together.

How do you think the Chicago Fire will fair in 2015?

Shaun Maloney captains Chicago Fire in debut draw with Norwich

Shaun Maloney wore the captain’s armband on his Chicago Fire debut yesterday as he played 45 minutes in a goalless draw with Norwich City at the Championship club’s Colney Training Centre.

Head coach Frank Yallop changed all eleven players at halftime as 22 players got their first preseason action under their belt in the 0-0 draw.

The Fire have been one of Major League Soccer’s busiest clubs this offseason and 11 of the 13 players brought in this winter played on Thursday.

Two of the new Designated Players started in attack with Kennedy Igboananike and Shaun Maloney accompanied by Harry Shipp up top in a 4-3-3 system.

David Accam, the third DP signing, is still away at the African Cup of Nations with Ghana but he will join up with his teammates within the next week.

Maloney captained the Men in Red on his debut before being replaced by Quincy Amarikwa at halftime with usual captain Jeff Larentowicz ruled out with a knee injury.

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Frank Yallop was pleased with what he saw from his side in the draw and starting preseason with a clean-sheet against a Norwich side with a few first-team regulars is a major positive.

“It was very good,” Yallop told reporters after the game. “We had two completely different units starting the first half and the second, so 22 players got to play a 45-minute spell, which is always good to start with.

“I feel like some of the soccer we played and our continuity [was good], and after nine or 10 days of training I thought we were quite bright, played some good stuff, and getting a clean sheet is always important.”

The Chicago Fire now move on to London where they will train with Queens Park Rangers before playing the Premier League club in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Thursday.

Chicago Fire add another DP in Ghanaian striker David Accam

Chicago Fire have made another big step to improving their squad by signing Ghanaian striker David Accam and the 24-year-old will occupy a Designated Player slot.

Accam joins from Swedish side Helsingborg, where he scored 30 goals in 62 appearances – an impressive strike rate of 0.48 per game.

He is the second African DP striker that the Fire have added this offseason and the club will hope to see Accam form a solid partnership with Kennedy Igboananike in 2015.

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“David is an exciting, creative player with a goal-scoring mentality,” Fire head coach Frank Yallop said. “I’m pleased that David will be joining the Fire. He’s a key piece as we continue to build a deep squad in preparation for the 2015 season and we’re looking forward to having him on our team.”

Accam, who made it through Ghana’s Right to Dream Academy, has improved as a player with every season and was called up to the Ghana National team for a World Cup qualifier against Sudan earlier this year.

The Fire reportedly paid around £2.5 million for his services and he will hope to make an immediate impact when the new season gets underway in March.

“I’m really excited to be a part of MLS and the Chicago Fire,” he said.

“The commitment that the Fire showed me was the main reason I chose Chicago over other offers that I had. I would also like to thank the coach Frank Yallop and the owner Andrew Hauptman for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to play for the Fire. I cannot wait to repay their faith.

“I know that Chicago is going to be a great home for me, and I’m looking forward to giving everything I have to become part of the Fire family, with my teammates, the club staff and of course, the fans, especially Section 8,” Accam added.

David Accam highlights via CSKA4everVIDEOtv on YouTube:

Will David Accam be a star for the Fire? Is he a good signing?

Chicago Fire sign Kennedy Igboananike to Designated Player slot

Chicago Fire have made their first major transfer move of the offseason by signing Nigerian striker Kennedy Igboananike to a Designated Player slot, subject to the receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and his P1 Visa.

The 25-year-old forward has netted 22 goals in 63 games over the past two seasons with Swedish side AIK and has been linked with a move to English Premier League sides Southampton and Queens Park Rangers in recent weeks.

Igboananike is Nigerian born but he also qualifies as a Swedish citizen after spending so much time in Europe and Chicago head coach Frank Yallop is looking forward to seeing him in action in MLS in 2015.

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“Kennedy is a dynamic goal scorer with a track record of producing,” Yallop said.

“He’s young and exciting, a player with incredible pace, and we look forward to adding him to our roster to bolster our attack.”

Some Fire fans may be questioning the acquisition, especially as he fills a valuable DP spot on the roster , but if he can transfer his goalscoring record from Sweden to MLS then he could be a star.

He has netted 68 times in 179 career appearances to date, meaning that he averages a goal every 2.6 games.

Igboananike could be the lethal striker Chicago Fire so desperately need and he will be looking to make an immediate impact as a Designated Player come the start of the 2015 season.

Kennedy Igboananike fantastic bicycle kick goal for AIK (via SFPLAY on YouTube):

Will Kennedy Igboananike be a star for Chicago Fire?