It’s a crucial round in MLS’s fantasy game, and I score better when I write something up. That’s right, this is a selfish venture. We do have three members in the Top 25 overall (that means prizes), so it isn’t totally selfish. Ok, none of those heavy hitters are readers, but maybe that will give you a leg up this week with my sporadic advice column.
There’s eight teams with two games this week, and you’ll need to maximize the bang for your buck since salary caps are still constrained. I’ve separated the teams by how many points I think they’ll earn this week while factoring in recent scheduling into a power ranking, of sorts. My strategy this week will be to load up on my two favorites, have a smattering of the next group of three, and maybe take a punt on the last group. Let’s get to it.
DC United (PHI, ATL):
DC’s the only team with both of their matches at home. Although they have to make up the stagger in the last month, they’ve had a normal game week mixed in regularly to keep them fresh, and they haven’t left the Eastern Time Zone since the 4th of July. Chris Durkin and Paul Arriola are both a yellow card away from an accumulation suspension, but the former hasn’t been starting. Philadelphia has been playing well, and Atlanta has been the best team in the league; but DC has won their last four at home. 4-6 points this week seems like a strong bet.
Picks to Click: Wayne Rooney and Lucho Acosta. The last DGW they scored 17 and 19, respectively. They’ve really clicked as teammates, and double figures for both seem likely this round. Both are in discussion for the armband this round.
FCD (At SJE, HOU):
Dallas does have a road game here, but it is against the worst team in the league. Then they’ll get the ragged 10th place Dynamo at Toyota Stadium. Carlos Gruezo will be suspended for the game in San Jose, so scratch him off your list. Aside from him, there are no yellow card warnings in play.
Pick to Click: Michael Barrios. Barrios has played both of these teams in the last five weeks and had either a goal or an assist in each game. He also had either a goal or an assist in the other three games in that span (5g, 2a total) and is almost certain to rise in price after this round even if he fails to notch either this round. Barrios has been amazing- don’t miss out!
Toronto (@POR, LAFC):
Another road-home DGW, and even a scuffling Portland (four losses in a row) and LAFC (two wins in their last eight) will still remain a difficult proposition for TFC. That said, they’ve only lost once in their last six matches and are firmly in the desperate phase of their season. Fortunately, they’ve got just the guy to dig him out.
Pick to Click: Sebastian Giovinco. As hot as Barrios has been, Giovinco makes him look like Mr. Freeze. The Atomic Ant has a goal or an assist in each of his last nine- including one sub appearance- and has averaged nearly nine points per game over that span. The price tag may be high, but he’s worth every penny. Oh, and if you’re worried that he and Bradley are on Yellow Card warning, both have received two of their ‘Good Behavior Incentives’, so they effectively sit on three yellow cards a piece.
NY Red Bulls (HOU, @MTL):
Under normal circumstances, this is a no-brainer. Low hanging fruit in the first game of the week followed by a game that’s doable on the road is a sure sign to load up. The reality is that this will be there fourth game in 10 days and fifth game in 14 days- all without significant rotation. They did manage four points out of last round, but they sure didn’t look pretty doing it. The question is when, not if, they’ll rotate and who it will be. Honestly, I could have ranked the Red Bulls even lower in my hierarchy.
Pick to Click: Sean Davis. Look, I’m not saying he’s going to have a big week, but he is cheap and didn’t start the last game. He should have a decent enough floor, and you can invest elsewhere. Everyone else on Red Bulls is kind of expensive and probably exhausted. Bradley Wright-Phillips on a yellow card warning as well, further mucking up the works. Be bullish with caution.
Portland (TOR, @NER):
Portland is in a busy stretch, too- fifth game in 17 days and sixth game in 21 days. What’s worse, all of those four previous games were losses. They did look pretty dominant against Seattle on Sunday night (despite the loss), but they only get two days to prepare for a desperate Toronto team before another day of training and a day to fly across country to face another desperate team, the New England Revolution. And they don’t even get the international break off. Brutal!
Note: Also, Sebastian Blanco looks iffy.
Pick to Click: Diego Valeri. This is pretty much a FOMO pick. I could easily see him putting up 4-5 points at home and then being left home when the team flies to Boston. He also has as good a chance as anyone this week to score 20+, so it’s too good for me to pass up on. If you need someone cheaper, Armenteros is only $7.7 at F, and he has no competition for minutes at the moment (at least you’re a pretty sure bet for two games). Like the Red Bulls, I could see ranking Portland lower.
PHI (@DC, @OCSC):
Philly’s been in great form (four wins in five, including two road wins), so maybe I should have them higher? The DC matchup isn’t great, but Orlando City is pretty hapless these days. Still, teams who play back to back road games on DGWs tend to be a losing proposition. I wouldn’t go long here, either.
Pick to Click: Jack Elliot. Lacking options, Elliot’s cheap and will get a price rise after this round even if he’s a clunker in both games. I think he just talked myself into that.
SJE (FCD, @VAN):
San Jose isn’t technically eliminated from the playoffs, but they will be before September ends. I can say for certain they won’t catch Dallas this year, and after the gut punch where they gave up three unanswered goals from Vancouver after being up 2-0, this team has to be toast.
Pick to Click: Jahmir Hyka. He scored the last match, and he’s scored in the last THREE matches against FC Dallas. FCD’s a mere 1-2-4 in their last seven against San Jose, so if you believe in the ‘Hyka Hoodoo’, why the hell not? (Disclaimer: Not recommended)
HOU (@NYRB, @FCD):
Excluding US Open Cup, Houston is winless in nine. I guess New York will be tired and/or possibly undermanned. I guess the last five Texas Derbies have ended in a draw. I guess I have to pick someone.
Pick to Click: Mauro Manotas. This is less an endorsement of him and more a hard pass on Elis, Quioto, Martinez, and Boniek (who is on yellow card warning). A center forward scored for Houston each time in the two previous matches with FCD, so there’s that.
(Disclaimer: Not recommended)
Oh, and before I forget- Gambling*!
DCU -.5 +110
FCD Pick -130
FCD/SJE O3 +110
Previous weeks’ picks: 1-2-2 Season: 21-16-4
Good luck, fellow degenerates.
*- Odds courtesy of Bovada. For Entertainment Purposes Only!