MLS Fantasy Focus: Make the most of the DGW ahead of Round 10

By Jamie Dawe and Sam Martin

The headlines from Round 9 have all been about Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain’s mid-game row. Their exchange of words over a penalty that would have secured Kamara his hat trick – but was eventually taken by Higuain – is a story that has travelled around the world. It marred an incredible eight-goal game, but in this week’s Fantasy Focus, we promise to focus on the football being played, not the spats off the ball!

Round 9 Review 

The Good:

Embed from Getty Images

The MAPFRE Stadium, home to Columbus Crew, undoubtedly provided us with the game of the weekend, where an incredible eight goals were scored in the 4-4 draw between the Crew and Montreal Impact. It had been a disappointing start to the season for Columbus, but two goals from both Kei Kamara ($11.1) and Federico Higuaín ($10.5) put Columbus 4-1 up with just over 30 minutes to play. Remarkably, the Impact came back from the dead to salvage a point thanks to Ignacio Piatti ($10.6), Didier Drogba ($11.8) and a last minute goal from Dominic Oduro ($7.6). We have once again entered the familiar territory of Piatti gaining the most points of any player this week – with an astounding 18! While Montreal may top the Eastern Conference, Colorado Rapids are the shock leaders of the Supporters’ Shield standings, following a 1-0 home victory against an equally impressive Real Salt Lake. Jermaine Jones ($8.2) netted the goal that was the difference between the two sides to earn his side three crucial points and further cement his place as one of the league’s top players even after his unceremonious exit from New England. Robbie Keane ($11.7) may have been sidelined with injuries for most of this campaign, but the Irishman netted a brace in the Galaxy’s fifth win of the campaign, picking up 13 points in his 59 minutes on the field. Furthermore, it couldn’t possibly be a good weekend without Seattle’s Jordan Morris ($8.3) getting a mention. The forward has now scored in four straight matches as Seattle won their fourth-straight home game against San Jose on Saturday.

The Bad:

Embed from Getty Images

The only red card of the weekend was collected by Orlando’s Cristian Higuita ($6.7), who was sent off late on in his side’s 1-1 draw with New York Red Bulls. OCSC are now on a run of five games without a win and with star turns Kaka ($10.8) and Cyle Larin ($9.2) in their side – it is fair to expect more from the men in purple. Meanwhile, Dallas failed to score and lost for the third consecutive outing. It has to be worrying the Texans with forward Maximiliano Urruti ($8.5) needing to regain the form that got him three goals in the opening four MLS games. Portland Timbers’ winless away run continued after defeat at Vancouver, while Sporting Kansas City also suffered a defeat away to Houston Dynamo. SKC are now winless in six after winning four of their opening five. Designated Players Benny Feilhaber ($10.9) and Graham Zusi ($10.1) will be expected to produce their finest form in the coming weeks, starting with this week’s DGW.

Round 10 Preview

Double Gameweek Must-Haves:

Jermaine Jones ($8.2):

Embed from Getty Images

The Rapids are in tremendous form and it was sparked by Jermaine Jones’ entrance to the team. Fresh from his contract dispute with the Revs and his six-match ban for making repeated physical contact with referee Mark Geiger, the fire is very much within Jones’ play. Thrust into a more attacking role, he’s playing as well as he ever has – even at the age of 34.

Andrew Wenger ($7.2):

Houston have finally returned to some sort of form with a win over SKC and Wenger was instrumental in achieving the victory. Fixtures against San Jose and Real Salt Lake aren’t easy – but they’re certainly not the most difficult cards to be dealt at this point in the season. I would be shocked if Wenger didn’t pick up 10 points across the two games this week. If you don’t fancy Wenger, teammate Alex ($6.1) is bound to pick up a solid number of points at a cheap price.

Fanendo Adi ($10.3):

Embed from Getty Images

The pinpoint in the Timbers’ MLS Cup winning attack, Adi is in fine form and with Diego Valeri ($10.5) pulling the strings behind him, he looks set to keep firing in goal after goal. He may be whisked away for international duty with Nigeria in Round 12, but he will be back in a flash – unlike other forward options like Giles Barnes ($8.5) and Chris Wondolowski ($10.7), who will exiting the league for the Copa America Centenario.

Maynor Figueroa ($6.7):

This is a risky one. Dallas may’ve lost three on the trot, but the former Wigan defender has performed solidly throughout and is still garnering plenty of bonus points. If Dallas were to keep a clean sheet in either of their two home games this week against the Sounders or the Timbers, it would be a shame to miss out on almost certain double figures. It’s also hard to ignore that Dallas are the only side to play both their games at home this week and Figueroa represents a solid pick.

Which players will you transfer in for Round 10’s DGW?

Advertisements

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:

Embed from Getty Images

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…

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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)

Embed from Getty Images

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.

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:

Embed from Getty Images

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:

Embed from Getty Images

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:

Embed from Getty Images

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: Time to load up on Quakes stars for latest DGW?

By Jamie Dawe and Sam Martin

If you are squeamish, don’t click on the following link. Nigel De Jong’s horror tackle on Darlington Nagbe overshadowed all other gameplay this weekend and if you want to indulge yourself in this footballing monstrosity, you can watch the challenge here. However, there were some more positive goings on this week in MLS. A total of 14 players picked up a score in the double digits and there were some standout performances from unexpected stars, as well as contributions from the usual suspects.

Week 5 Review

The Good:

It was a more enjoyable experience for the spectators who could enjoy ten 11vs11 matches, the way football should be played, as no red cards were issued this weekend. It was a good week for DC United who picked up only their second win of the season and their first in front of their own supporters. Regular starter Fabian Espindola ($10.1) and late substitute Alvaro Saborio ($7.7) both netted braces in an emphatic 4-0 win over the Whitecaps, bringing them 14 and 11 points respectively and making Espindola the highest point scorer of the week. Also standing out this weekend, Real Salt Lake extended their unbeaten run to five games with star of the season so far, Joao Plata ($9.5) netting his fourth goal of the season.

At the other end of the Western Conference, Seattle Sounders’ defender Chad Marshall ($8.5) equalised in the 94th minute to save a point for the Sounders against Houston as he picked up 10 points for the gameweek himself. Having heavily criticised the Chicago defence on the opening game of the season (conceding four goals at home to New York City), it’s clear their players must have been paying attention to the criticism, as they have gone on to concede just one goal from their next four matches and are yet to lose since the opening day. This meant that ‘keeper Matt Lampson ($4.7), along with defenders Johan Kappelhof ($7.7), Jonathan Campbell ($5.1), Rodrigo Ramos ($6.1) and Michael Harrington ($5.3) all picked up between 6 and 10 points this weekend. Houston Dynamo striker Giles Barnes scored a fine goal, which also deserves a mention here as he casually looped the ball over Stefan Frei’s head to put the Dynamo in the lead. It’s certainly worth a watch and you can do just that right here.

Embed from Getty Images

The Bad:

For the first time all season, there was not a single red card in any match during the weekend! However, one sour point was Nigel De Jong’s ($9.1) tackle on USMNT star Darlington Nagbe ($9.0), which was certainly a tackle worthy of a red. It does seem that De Jong has been retrospectively banned, but we’re yet to find out how long for.

Whilst it may not have been a weekend for red cards, there were a large quantity of own goals and defensive disasters to talk about. Portland Timbers’ Nat Borchers ($7.7) netted a late own goal to rescue LA Galaxy a point as Portland continued their winless run that has lasted since their only victory of the season on opening day. Also guilty of scoring at the wrong end, San Jose defender Victor Bernardez ($7.5) chalked up Dallas’ equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Toyota Stadium. Defensively, it was a horror show for the Vancouver Whitecaps, who let in four goals away to DC United, with none of their back four picking up anymore than 2 points this week. Meanwhile in the Eastern Conference, Bradley Wright-Phillips ($10.7), a man who netted 18 goals last season, is yet to score a goal this term. He fired ten shots on Saturday (more than anyone else in a single game so far this season) and missed a perfect opportunity to end this drought, missing from the penalty spot against Sporting Kansas City. New York have failed to score in four out of five games this season, although ironically it has been their defence that has been hit by injury, so their first-choice attack has no excuse for not racking up the goals so far.

Bradley Wright-Phillips Clint Irwin

Week 6 Preview

Must Buy:

It’s double gameweek time! The second DGW of the MLS season gives you the opportunity to bring in an impressive points haul. With San Jose playing two out of form teams in the New York Red Bulls and Portland Timbers, my money would be behind them for banking some top scoring players. My main suggestions would be the ever reliable Chris Wondolowski ($10.7), who will also take any penalties, along with key men Quincy Amarikwa ($7.6) and Marvell Wynne ($7.0), both of whom will surely start both games. If you’re looking for value for money out of the double gameweek players, look no further than the Rapids’ Ugandan midfielder Micheal Azira ($5.5) and towering Swedish centre-back Axel Sjoberg ($5.5). Returning SKC captain Matt Besler ($8.7) might also be a good shout if you’re looking for a big name defender to bolster your squad.

Embed from Getty Images

Must Sell:

Chicago Fire only play twice in the next two gameweeks, whereas other teams will tally several games in that period – so it’s worth getting value for money and removing Fire players (aiming at the 14.4% of you that have Brandon Vincent ($5.0). Replace him with a Rapids defender (they play five times in the next four weeks) or stick with a reliable points scorer like Justin Glad ($5.1) or Daniel Steres ($5.2). Anyone who has Darlington Nagbe ($9.0), might want to put their money to better use, as he could be out for an indefinite period of time after leaving the pitch on a wheelchair against the Galaxy on Sunday. Also, SKC defender Kevin Ellis ($6.9) could be about to miss an extended period of time after a nasty groin injury against the Red Bulls – so if you’re the owner of one of the 2,000+ teams that Ellis is in – you might want to look elsewhere for a few weeks.

Who will you be putting in your team for the upcoming DGW?

MLS Fantasy Focus: Who should you be looking at for Week 5?

By Jamie Dawe and Sam Martin

The weekend which was used to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the first game of Major League Soccer brought us everything we have come to expect from this ever-developing league. There were goals, star names shining through and a whole host of colourful kits on display. This season is already turning into an MLS classic and it’s only just begun.

Week 4 Review

The Good:

It’s fair to say that the Seattle Sounders have performed well below expectations so far this season, having lost their first three fixtures of the season. However, US international Clint Dempsey ($10.9), fresh from scoring for his country against Guatemala, netted a crucial goal to give his side their first win of the season over Montreal last weekend. Meanwhile, ‘super sub’ Adam Jahn ($5.5) netted six minutes after coming on the field to rescue San Jose Earthquakes a late point at home to winless DC United. Orlando City defender Seb Hines ($7.6) opened the scoring in his side’s convincing 4-1 victory against MLS Cup holders Portland Timbers. The defender earned a total of 9 points to help his side climb to the top of the Eastern Conference and remain unbeaten. Trinidadian teammate Kevin Molino ($8.1) won and converted a penalty late in the game, earning 12 points to rank him amongst the highest point-scorers of the week. However, the standout scorer from Orlando’s game and undoubtedly the player of the week was Kaka ($10.7), who contributed two assists and a goal on his way to picking up 16 points in his first appearance of the season.

Embed from Getty Images

The Bad:

Toronto midfielder Benoit Cheyrou ($7.2) was treated to an early bath as he picked up two yellow cards within the first 13 minutes of his side’s away defeat to the Rapids. This was the fastest red card of the season so far and a feat I’m sure Cheyrou won’t be planning to repeat. He certainly won’t be repeating it in Week 5 as he will be suspended for the game away to the struggling Revs. There were a total of four red cards this week, with Philadelphia’s Warren Creavalle ($5.7), the Red Bulls’ Felipe Martins ($8.3) and Vancouver’s Matias Laba ($7.3) all leaving their team down to ten men. No team that was reduced to ten men managed to score this week – leaving a stark reminder of the dangers of going a man down. It was a bad day for the Portland defence in general, who conceded four goals away to Orlando, so any fans of debutant Jack Barmby ($6.9), may feel slightly disappointed at his performance.

Embed from Getty Images

Week 5 Preview

The Must Buys:

As has already been mentioned, Kaka ($10.7) has come back from injury with a bang – so anyone with a bit of leeway in their budget should invest in the former Ballon d’Or winner before his price skyrockets. Joao Plata ($9.4) is still incredible value for money at under $10 and is the highest scoring striker so far this season with 41 points – an average of over 10 points per game. Daniel Steres ($5.2) is also proving fantastic value for money as the 25 year old is establishing himself as a regular in the LA Galaxy defence. He has gone some way to filling the enormous void (literally and metaphorically) that the departure of 6ft 7ins Omar Gonzalez left.

Embed from Getty Images

The Must Sells:

The New York Red Bulls have lost even more players to injury and now Felipe to suspension so things aren’t getting any easier for Jesse Marsch. It might be best to avoid having Red Bulls players in your side for the next few weeks as I would be surprised if they put in any high scoring performances. It’s over to Bradley Wright-Phillips ($10.8) and Sacha Kljestan ($11.2) to prove me wrong. Revs midfielder Lee Nguyen ($11.0) also needs to start proving that he is worth that vast sum of money – as Kaka looks much the better option for a team’s midfield and he even comes at a cheaper price at this point.

Who will you be bringing into your MLS Fantasy team for Week 5?

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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?

MLS Fantasy Tips: Gameweek 1’s standout performers

After a great opening weekend of MLS action, we review the best picks from Gameweek 1 in mlssoccer.com’s official fantasy soccer game.

It wouldn’t be much help just picking out the highest scoring players, so to give you more to think about with more of a valued insight, we have taken the best five picks in terms of points per million.

We have only had one weekend of action and there is a long way to go but these five players picked up a solid amount of MLS Fantasy points this weekend and showed promise:

1. Tyler Deric (Goalkeeper) – Houston Dynamo – $5.1m

Tyler Deric Houston Dynamo

Tyler Deric in action for the Houston Dynamo (Photo: MLSSoccer.com)

Deric kept a clean-sheet in a hard fought 1-0 win against the Columbus Crew this weekend and made six saves. The Dynamo ‘keeper was good value for nine points this week and has seen his price rise to $5.1m already. He will face Orlando next weekend at home and will expect to rack up more points in that one.

Points per million: 1.8/million


 

2. Axel Sjoberg (Defender) – Colorado Rapids – $4.6m

Axel Sjoberg Colorado Rapids

Axel Sjoberg in action for the Colorado Rapids (Photo: MLSSoccer.com)

We have two Colorado players in the top five this week, with centre-back Sjoberg the first. A clean-sheet in the 0-0 draw against the Philadelphia Union earned him four points this week and three additional defending points alongside his two points for playing 90 minutes helped him to nine, though he unfortunately picked up a yellow card and ended on eight points. That’s still a good tally and his price has risen to $4.6m as a result of a good start.

Points per million: 1.7/million 


 

3. Clint Dempsey (Midfielder) – Seattle Sounders – $11.2m

Embed from Getty Images

With two goals, an assist, minutes bonus, a midfielder clean-sheet and a penalty earner, Dempsey topped the overall points tally with eighteen points this week in an impressive performance for the Sounders against his former club, New England Revolution. A good start for ‘Deuce’ as he rewarded those who splashed out $11.0m for him and he has seen his price rise to $11.2m already.

Points per million: 1.63/million 


 

4. Clint Irwin (Goalkeeper) – Colorado Rapids – $5.1m

Clint Irwin in action for the Colorado Rapids (Photo: Derik Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)

Clint Irwin in action for the Colorado Rapids (Photo: Derik Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)

The second of the Colorado contingent is goalkeeper Clint Irwin, who kept a clean-sheet in the 0-0 draw with Philadelphia on Saturday and he would have earned you eight points if you started him. His price increased to $5.1m but be wary as Zac MacMath will be challenging for a starting role against New York City FC after the upcoming bye week for the Rapids.

Points per million: 1.6/million 


 

5. Jozy Altidore (Striker) – Toronto FC – $9.7m

Jozy Altidore Toronto FC

Jozy Altidore celebrates scoring for Toronto FC against the Vancouver Whitecaps (Photo: MLSSoccer.com)

The standout man in Toronto’s 3-1 win against Vancouver on Saturday night was Jozy Altidore as he scored two and earned the late penalty that he calmly chipped in. Altidore impressed, earning a total of 15 points on his return to MLS and has seen his fantasy price go to $9.7m already. A trip to the Columbus Crew is up next as the USMNT forward will look to pick up where he left off against the Whitecaps.

Points per million: 1.58/million


Who was you best fantasy player this week?