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 Colorado Rapids

Competition: Major League Soccer – Philadelphia Union vs Colorado Rapids

Venue: PPL Park – Saturday, March 7th – 16:00 ET (21:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Philadelphia 1/1 – Draw 23/10 – Colorado 11/4

Match Preview

Philadelphia Union face the Colorado Rapids in the second game of the 2015 Major League Soccer season on Saturday afternoon and both sides will head into the game hoping for better campaigns this time around.

The Union missed out on the playoffs by seven points as they ended in sixth place in the Eastern Conference and ended the last campaign with just one win in their last seven.

Things were worse for the Rapids last term as they ended 2014 as the third-worst team in MLS and picked up just 32 points in 34 games. They ended last season without a win in 13 and will hope they can start the new season in much better form with an away win in Philadelphia.

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The two sides met at PPL Park in July last year and played out an entertaining 3-3 draw in a game that saw the Union have two players sent off.

Colorado have never lost at PPL Park in four previous games and they will take confidence from that record.

The Union were solid at home in the second half of the 2014 campaign as they only lost one of their last 11 in front of their own fans.

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Both sides have been busy this offseason and the most notable arrivals are Fernando Aristeguieta for the Union and Marcelo Sarvas for the Rapids.

A lot has changed off the field and these two will hope things can change on it too as they look to start 2015 better than they ended the last campaign.

Team News

Philadelphia Union will be without goalkeeper Andre Blake (knee) and midfielder Danny Cruz (hamstring) for their season opener. Fernando Aristeguieta and Steven Vitoria should make their debuts.

The Rapids have a few concerns for their opening game as defender Drew Moor (torn ACL) and Charles Eloundou (fitness) are both ruled out. Shane O’Neill is a doubt as he is suffering from a stomach bug while goalkeeper Zac MacMath is ineligible to play against the club he is on loan from. Marcelo Sarvas should make his debut in the centre of midfield.

Key Points

Philadelphia Union’s form: N/A

Colorado Rapids’ form: N/A

Key Stat: There have been four red cards in the last three meetings between the sides at PPL Park.

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Key Player: Fernando Aristeguieta – The Young Designated Player should make his debut in attack for the Union and will be a threat from the offset. Expect him to start life in MLS with a goal against a Rapids defence that conceded more goals than any other side in 2014.

Score Prediction

Philadelphia Union 2-2 Colorado Rapids – This could be another open game between the two teams but there will be little to separate them. Philadelphia have yet to beat Colorado at home and the wait could go on as neither will want to start the new season with defeat. Score draw.

MLS 2015 Season Preview: LA Galaxy

As the new season draws ever closer we’ll have a new MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday. Today we take a look at what the LA Galaxy will be looking to achieve this year.

LA Galaxy head into the 2015 season off the back of one of the most memorable campaigns in the history of the club. They won a record fifth MLS Cup title and said goodbye to the legendary Landon Donovan following his retirement. The Galaxy must ensure that Donovan’s retirement doesn’t have a negative impact on their performances on the pitch. Deciding how they will set-up in order to get the best out of the team once new signing Steven Gerrard joins in July will be crucial. The aim for 2015 will be to achieve at least the same again in terms of honours.

Last season’s finish: Western Conference position: 2nd – P34 – W17 – D10 – L7

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What needs to change this year?

It’s not so much a case of what needs to change for LA Galaxy, but more how they can set about continuing from where they left off.  The 2014 season saw them lose just seven regular season games – the least out of any MLS team. Three of those defeats came in the opening eight fixtures, so a better start this time around will ensure they can be the early pacesetters.  The only disappointment from last year will be that they failed to win the Supporters’ Shield, so that will be one of their targets for 2015.

Key changes to the squad:

Ins: Steven Gerrard – Midfielder (Designated Player)

Outs: Landon Donovan – Midfielder/Forward, Marcelo Sarvas – Midfielder, Rob Friend – Forward

Key player: Robbie KeaneForward

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Robbie Keane‘s contribution throughout the 2014 season was astonishing. He is the captain, a leader of men and possesses bags of experience. He will have achieved hero status after his performance last year, including the famous MLS Cup Final winning goal. He will need to continue to take responsibility and guide his team along the way.

One to watch: Gyasi ZardesForward

The 23-year-old is an exciting prospect. Gyasi Zardes was very much the unsung hero last season, due to the attention given to Landon Donovan’s farewell season and Robbie Keane’s superb efforts. He scored 16 goals in the regular season campaign and is growing in quality with every second he spends on the pitch. The recent inclusion in the USMNT will only give him further confidence to act as a springboard for 2015.

Predicted finish: Western Conference – 1st

Competition is going to be even higher in the Western Conference this season, but LA Galaxy still boast one of the strongest squads in Major League Soccer. They’re certainly one of the strong favourites for the Supporters’ Shield and will also expect to retain their MLS Cup title.

How will LA Galaxy fare in 2015?

MLS 2015 Season Preview: Colorado Rapids

In the second of our MLS 2015 Season Previews, we take a look at what the Colorado Rapids will be looking to achieve 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.

Colorado Rapids are a side searching for improvement in 2015 as they had a below par season last time out. The 2010 MLS Cup winners will be hoping for a stronger showing this year and Pablo Mastroeni has restructured his squad in order to enjoy the upcoming campaign a lot more than they did in 2014.

Last season’s finish: Western Conference position: 8th – P34 – W8 – D8 – L18

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What needs to change this year? 

The Rapids conceded the most goals in MLS last season (62) and will need to shore up their defence if they are to be successful this coming season. They also had a huge problem in defence towards the end of the year which led to them going on a winless run of fourteen straight matches. The Rapids conceded 27 in their last ten outings – a far from acceptable record. They could also do with an out-and-out goalscorer to support Deshorn Brown, who managed ten goals last year.

Key changes to squad:

Ins: Zac MacMath (On loan from Philadelphia) – Goalkeeper, Marcelo Sarvas – Midfield, Sam Cronin – Midfield, Juan Ramirez – Midfield (Designated Player).

Outs: Marvell Wynne – Defender, Zat Knight – Defender

Key player: Marcelo Sarvas – Midfield

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Marcelo Sarvas joined the Rapids from LA Galaxy this offseason and looks set to lead a new-look midfield in Colorado. Sarvas of course won the MLS Cup with the LA Galaxy in 2012 and in 2014 and will be hoping his successful past can inspire his new teammates. The Brazilian is set to partner fellow newcomer Sam Cronin in the centre of midfield and they should form a solid core that the Rapids will hope improves the entire team. Sarvas may take time to adapt to his new surroundings and could take a while to have a telling influence but he will be a key man for Colorado.

One to watch: Axel Sjöberg – Defender

The powerful Swedish centre-back was selected by the Rapids in the first round of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft and immediately stands out in a crowd. That’s largely down to the fact that he is 6’7″ and Axel Sjöberg will hope he can force his way into the starting lineup in his rookie season to help Colorado’s defence improve.

Predicted finish: Western Conference – 10th

A bit harsh you may think, but Major League Soccer is the strongest it has ever been and will only get better. The Western Conference has become even tougher with the additions of Sporting Kansas City and Houston Dynamo and the Colorado Rapids will do well to finish anywhere but bottom this year.

How do you think the Colorado Rapids will fair in 2015?

Marcelo Sarvas leaves LA Galaxy in trade with Colorado Rapids

The LA Galaxy have waved goodbye to midfield enforcer Marcelo Sarvas as the Brazilian has joined the Colorado Rapids in a trade that also saw the Rapids pick up an international roster spot.

In exchange, the Galaxy received allocation money and more importantly, have moved up the allocation ranking by taking Colorado‘s third place in the allocation order.

Sarvas, 33, made 88 appearances for the Galaxy, scoring 19 goals with nine assists in a successful spell that saw him lift two MLS Cup titles in three seasons.

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He is a huge acquisition for the Rapids and will look to be as influential as he was in Los Angeles as the Rapids look to improve on last season’s disappointing campaign. The team recorded its lowest points tally in 14 seasons in 2014.

The Rapids made two strong defensive acquisitions in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft earlier today as they picked up 6ft 7in centre-back Axel Sjoberg and 6ft 6in defender Joseph Greenspan.

Sarvas’s exit from the LA Galaxy will leave many fans saddened as he was a fan favourite, but Steven Gerrard’s arrival in the summer will soften the blow.

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The rise in allocation ranking also suggests that the Galaxy are set to make a move for USMNT midfielder Sacha Kljestan.

The 29-year-old has fallen out of favour in Anderlecht and is expected to return to MLS before the start of the new season with Seattle Sounders, New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union also interested.

The Galaxy are now the highest ranked side of those in terms of allocation ranking and are now in pole position should they wish to pursue the midfielder.

What do you make of the trade between the Colorado Rapids and the LA Galaxy regarding Marcelo Sarvas?

Three potential signings to replace Landon Donovan at LA Galaxy

With the recent retirement of Landon Donovan, the LA Galaxy has a huge hole to fill in their squad and an unoccupied designated player slot too. Though replacing the US soccer legend is no easy task.

Donovan leaves behind a great legacy with the Galaxy having recently lead them to his fourth MLS Cup title with the franchise and his sixth overall – the most titles won by any player.

However, it remains to be seen how LA will look to replace him. An attacking option is set to be added to the squad before the start of the new MLS season in March. Though they may wait until the summer if the right name is available then.

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Much of the post-Donovan chat has been on the permanent move to MLS for Erick Torres, but he has gone back to parent club Chivas Guadalajara in Mexico to help with their ongoing relegation struggle.

Bruce Arena may have to adjust his formation due to the loss of Donovan, which could expand the potential list of suitors.

His current 4-4-2 formation has seemed to work for some time now, but the loss of Donavan leaves a huge hole in the Galaxy squad.

Here are three potential replacements:

Darren Bent (Striker) – Aston Villa (England)

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England international striker Darren Bent has been somewhat of a forgotten man since Paul Lambert took over the reigns at Villa. And so Bent could do with a new challenge after seeing his starting place handed to Belgium front man Christian Benteke.

He could be a great partner for MLS MVP Robbie Keane, having previously played at Tottenham Hotspur as well as at Villa together. But this would mean re-positioning Gyasi Zardes from the Galaxy attack to accommodate Bent.

Ronaldinho (Attacking Midfielder) – Querétaro F.C. (Mexico)

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The World Cup winning Brazilian needs no introduction and a move to MLS giants LA Galaxy could be the swansong he deserves.

Ronaldinho can operate on either flank, through the middle or up front so he would be a suitable replacement for Donovan in terms of versatility. However, he doesn’t posses the defensive qualities of Donovan and so Zardes could be forced out wide to accommodate Ronaldinho’s arrival too.

Andrea Pirlo (Midfielder) – Juventus (Italy)

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Pass-master Pirlo is a World Cup winner like Ronaldinho and would further strengthen the Galaxy midfield. Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho could benefit by having Pirlo just in behind them to give them more freedom to attack.

He’s been linked with a move recently and the potential signing of Pirlo could would allow Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes to continue their lethal strike partnership, while giving them a player who can provide service from deeper.

Who do you think LA Galaxy will replace Landon Donovan with?

2014 MLS Season Review: LA Galaxy

Western Conference Final Position: 2nd

Western Conference Playoffs: Winners

MLS Cup Winners 2014

Review

Putting it simply, 2014 has been an excellent season for LA Galaxy. They have won the MLS Cup, but not just that, they have made history by winning a record fifth title and now become the most successful club in the history of the competition. It has made for a fairytale ending for club legend Landon Donovan who has now retired.

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Best Moment

Many will look to Robbie Keane‘s 111th minute winner in the MLS Cup Final as the clear front-runner for the greatest moment of 2014 for LA Galaxy, and rightly so. However, without Juninho‘s strike in the second-leg of the Western Conference championship tie away at Seattle Sounders, they would never have had the opportunity to lift the title.

Worst Moment

The one low point of the season will be the 2-0 defeat at Seattle Sounders in the last game of the regular season which saw their Western Conference rivals win the Supporters’ Shield.

Player of the Year

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Robbie Keane was the Major League Soccer MVP and although the LA Galaxy team was filled with great performers in 2014 such as Landon Donovan, Gyasi Zardes and Marcelo Sarvas – to name just a few – he gets the nod for player of the year. His winning goal in the MLS Cup Final against New England Revolution was a priceless moment that only emphasised his importance to this Galaxy side.

Biggest Win

LA Galaxy 6-0 Colorado Rapids (September 6 2014)

Biggest Defeat

Columbus Crew 4-1 LA Galaxy (August 16 2014)

What to improve for the 2015 season…

First and foremost, the Galaxy will need to try and find a suitable replacement for Landon Donovan. Finding a player to replace the aura that Donovan leaves behind is near impossible, but they will need to look for someone who possesses a similar level of ability – not an easy task.

Another pointer would be to try and hit the ground running in 2015. They came out of the traps slowly at the beginning of the 2014 campaign, picking up just two wins from their first eight games, which handed the initiative to their rivals immediately. They need to set the benchmark early on next time around.

Obafemi Martins further emphasises importance in Seattle’s comeback display

The Seattle Sounders rallied in the second-half to earn a valuable point away at fellow MLS Supporters’ Shield contenders LA Galaxy on Sunday night, with Obafemi Martins at the heart of everything the Sounders did going forward once again.

A Seattle win would have wrapped up the Supporters Shield a week before the end of the season, but the draw means that their is all to play for when the sides meet again in the final game of the regular season at CenturyLink Field.

Goals from Baggio Husidic and Marcelo Sarvas either side of halftime put LA 2-0 up, and all looked to be going accordingly in Landon Donovan’s final regular season home game.

But Seattle weren’t to be defeated that easily, and Martins inspired them to come back and earn a draw as he picked up two assists for Clint Dempsey and Lamar Neagle goals in quick succession.

Omar Gonzalez was sent off late on, and he will miss the decider on Saturday night as a result, but Martins is the man who deserves to be talked about, as the 29-year-old did his MVP claims no harm by setting up both Sounders goals.

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Martins had more shots than anyone on the pitch last night with five, and also completed more dribbles than anyone else on the field.

He made three key passes, and proved to be the main attacking threat once more – a significant claim when playing alongside Clint Dempsey.

Martins is undoubtedly in the running for the MVP award, and another outstanding display in the final game could be a huge factor, as Robbie Keane appears the favourite for MVP at the moment.

The Nigerian striker has scored 17 goals this season, joint-fourth most in the league, tied with Lee Nguyen (another MVP candidate), and has the joint-second highest amount of assists with 11, as only Landon Donovan has more (14).

Martins looks set to stay in Seattle for another couple of seasons as he is reportedly closing in on a contract extension, but that won’t be until after the season.

He will be crucial for the Sounders on Saturday night, and in the playoffs as well as Seattle are set to fight for their first MLS Cup win.

How important is Martins to Seattle? Does he deserve the MVP award?