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MLS Fantasy Manager: Round 18

MLS braces for Gold Cup. Get ready for some new names.

Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Obviously, I'm starting this article with this:

MLS PLAYERS ON PROVISIONAL GOLD CUP ROSTERS (BY CLUB):

Chicago Fire (1): Joevin Jones (Trinidad & Tobago)

Colorado Rapids (1): Gabriel Torres (Panama)

Columbus Crew SC (1): Kevan George (Trinidad & Tobago)

D.C. United (1): Michael Seaton (Jamaica)

FC Dallas (5): Tesho Akindele (Canada), Kyle Bekker (Canada), Moises Hernandez (Guatemala), Blas Perez (Panama), Je-Vaughn Watson (Jamaica)

Houston Dynamo (3): Giles Barnes (Jamaica), Oscar Boniek Garcia (Honduras), Jermaine Taylor (Jamaica)

LA Galaxy (3): Omar Gonzalez (USA), Jaime Penedo (Panama), Gyasi Zardes (USA)

Montreal Impact (1): Maxim Tissot (Canada)

New York City FC (1): Mix Diskerud (USA)

New York Red Bulls (3): Kemar Lawrence (Jamaica), Roy Miller (Costa Rica), Karl Ouimette (Canada)

Orlando City (2): Darwin Ceren (El Salvador), Cyle Larin (Canada)

Philadelphia Union (1): Andre Blake (Jamaica)

Portland Timbers (1): Alvas Powell (Jamaica)

Real Salt Lake (5): Kyle Beckerman (USA), Demar Phillips (Jamaica), Nick Rimando (USA), Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica), Elias Vasquez (Guatemala)

San Jose Earthquakes (2): Cordell Cato (Trinidad & Tobago), Chris Wondolowski (USA)

Seattle Sounders (3): Clint Dempsey (USA), Brad Evans (USA), Marco Pappa (Guatemala)

Sporting Kansas City (3): Marcel de Jong (Canada), Soni Mustivar (Haiti), Graham Zusi (USA)

Toronto FC (5): Jozy Altidore (USA), Michael Bradley (USA), Ashtone Morgan (Canada), Jonathan Osorio (Canada), Quillan Roberts (Canada)

Vancouver Whitecaps (2): Darren Mattocks (Jamaica), Russell Teibert (Canada)

We'll dive in to this in pick ups, but if you only make it this far, you need to clear your high salary players out for the next 2 weeks at a minimum.

Critiquing the expert:

This is the week that I spike the football. Three of the Dream Team this week came from my  'plan ahead' piece two weeks ago (including Matt Miazga, this week's top scorer). Chris Konopka scored 12, so he missed out by 2. Jose Villareal scored 7 this week and averaged 4 over 2 weeks, so he was a good cheap option (despite subbing in all 3 games). Both Portland players averaged better than 5 points per round over 2 weeks as did Luis Robles. As for this past week, the only recommendation who didn't score 10+ (Devon Sandoval) is a budget forward who will be a useful caperoo player until Alvaro Saborio (or Yura Movsisyan) returns to RSL.

Verdict: A+.  I've kicked myself plenty since I took over this column. Now is the time to bask in the accolades and remind everyone what a large degree of luck is tied up in this game (sorry, Javier Morales owners).

FC Dallas:

FC Dallas will be privileged with a consecutive home game for the first time since Mid-May, and boy, do they need it. Sandwiched between last week's convincing win and the annual 4th of July extravaganza was one of the worst losses in club history against Sporting Kansas City. This has elicited the quick return of the sad FC Dallas fan meme and a chorus of anger vented at HSG. Things could get ugly without 3 points and a packed house on Saturday.

For what it's worth, I remain considerably more even keel about the club's prospects. A half strength Dallas side going on the road against a form team with all of their players was a pretty tough ask. The Hoops upcoming opponent, New England, offers up a much less formidable opponent. Winless in 4, and with only 1 win in their last 11 across all competitions, the Revolution have struggled mightily in the last 2 months. They'll be missing Jermaine Jones until August, and Andrew Farrell is out after receiving a red card this weekend.

New England's record with Jermaine Jones is insanely good. In the 24 regular season and playoff MLS games he's played for Revolution, they've only lost twice. That said, Charlie Davies has been in good form, Juan Agudelo is dangerous, and Lee Nguyen is starting to pick up where he left off last year. I definitely think this game has more than one goal in it.

Adds: David Texeira ($7.5)- Fabian Castillo is your real pick here, but with the nebulous injury information being the norm, I can't advise such an expensive player in good conscious. That said, Tex should get some service in this one and I think he's good for a goal against the Revs.

Avoid: Moises Hernandez ($6.5)- He's too expensive, he's no guarantee to start, and he's gone after this week on Gold Cup duty for Guatemala. This is almost exactly what I wrote about Tesho Akindele last week (who is gone with Canada). On top of that, Mo had a pretty dreary game in mid-week, and he's not even a sure thing to play on Saturday. If you're looking for a Dallas D, give Kellyn Acosta ($5.8) a shot.

MLS:

Philadelphia Union and SKC are on a bye this week. DC United and LA Galaxy will be on a bye the week after. Columbus and Chicago have a Double Game Week in round 20. For this week, I'm going to concentrate on similar replacements for the Gold Cup players you may not have replaced yet.

Ethan Finlay M ($8.7)- Michael Bradley has been a machine over the last month averaging over 10 points a round for Toronto. Finlay's been only slightly less effective at 8 points a round over the same time period, and is 4th amongst midfielders in total scoring for the season. A tasty match against a tired and depleted Red Bull New York awaits as well as a DGW in Round 20.

Mike Magee F ($8.0)- Gyasi Zardes had a monster game in Round 16 and chipped in a respectable 4 last round. Mike Magee is back. He bagged a pair in their US Open Cup match and looks game for a hot streak. If you absolutely have to have someone you can count on to start this week, you can still get Kei Kamara at this price. If however, you can afford the luxury of a caperoo player who will save you a few bucks, Chicago plays tonight, and they have some serious goal potential during the Gold Cup.

Federico Higuain F ($10.6)- Chris Wondolowski is gone for a least the next 2 weeks. Higuain has averaged 7 over the last 5 rounds, and much like Finlay, has great potential over the next 3 weeks. One thing to note about Columbus that might make you more bullish- Will Trapp had a short run out in the midweek US Open cup game after a long absence with concussion symptoms.  If he returns to form in short order, Columbus should see a bump in chance creation.

Full Disclosure:

This is what I'm rolling out this week. Saving that extra transfer allowed me to bring in Finlay, an extra defender, and Anatole Abang (a good cheap option who's scoring for RBNY- watch out for him). I made a pretty good move up the board last week- hopefully a sign of things to come.