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Fantasy MLS Friday Extravaganza

With no Premier League action this week it leaves us a lot of time to delve into the upcoming weekend in Major League Soccer fantasy as well as getting to some overdue kudos from our private league for the last two match weeks.

A good bet against the punchless Revs
A good bet against the punchless Revs

Week 3 in Major League Soccer was the reminder that no matter what the difference between the powers of the league like the LA Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo and the lower lights like Chivas USA and a (theoretically) rebuilding Dallas FC this isn't the Premier League and there will be surprises. I don't think this is necessarily indicative of larger trends for any of those teams but it does remind us that the salary cap system doesn't allow the same sort of inequities that the lack of same allows all over Europe's top leagues. Switching from Fantasy EPL mode where a favorable match-up is almost always something to jump all over because it's REALLY favorable to Fantasy MLS mode where it is still a good thing but not THAT good a thing is important.

Three weeks in there are probably a number of other things that MLS fantasy managers are trying to determine whether they are important trends or just early season anomalies based on a small sample size. Here's my take:

  • DC United's Struggling Attack: 3 matches with only one goal isn't a good start but for now I'm putting this in the anomaly category because DeRo was suspended for two of those three matches. United still needs a better-than-average MLS forward for Nick DeLeon, DeRosario, and Chris Pontius to play off of but they'll be a solid group once even without one - it isn't like they lost a stud forward over the winter.
  • Big Name Forwards Struggling - That's 3 weeks and combined total of 3 goals from Thierry Henry, Chris Wondolowski, Chris Pontius, Robbie Keane, Will Bruin, and Kenny Cooper while Mike McGee and Robert Earnshaw both have that total on their own. I know the big name guys are eating up a big chunk of your roster but be patient, it'll pay off.
  • Early Review of Defenses - I think the Philadelphia Union will eventually become a strong defense but with 4 goals conceded in 3 matches it may not look like it is going to happen early. Don't be fooled. They conceded 3 in their opening match against a superior Sporting KC team but have given up only one since on a well-taken curler from distance. Keep the faith. DC United, on the other hand, were lucky not to concede last weekend under a barrage of shots from the Red Bulls. DC United's goals against numbers look better but their defense certainly didn't. Seattle and Real Salt Lake are also looking sturdy based on the early action.
  • Seattle's Attack - There are a lot of attractive names in the attack for the Sounders but they haven't produced much of anything in their first two matches. I wouldn't fret too much. There are players coming off injury and a new forward in old EPL favorite Obafemi Martins who has just arrived. (OBAFEMI!!!) It may take a month or so to get things running like a well oiled machine but it'll happen and you'll want to be there when it does for fantasy purposes.
  • Sebastian Le Toux is Back - It must be something in the water in Chester (and having grown up no more than 10 miles from the stadium I'm well within my rights to wonder exactly what that is and why it didn't help my game any), but Seb Le Toux just produces in a Union jersey. He already has a goal and two assists after looking lost in Vancouver and New York last season. Good to have him back.

Well Deserved Kudos

Your favorite blogger is decidedly middle of the pack so far but that won't stop him from giving some deserved recognition to the Week 3 stand-outs as well as our overall leaders after 3 weeks. Here's the rundown:

Week 3 Top 5 (well, 6 actually)

  1. Fightins FC with a runaway weekly win at 85 points managed by the enigmatically named EH
  2. Dyslexia United - 76 - Colin Reilly
  3. Fry United - 76 - Matt Fry
  4. Massive - 75 - Matt Brooks
  5. Izzle FC - 75 - Benjamin Gentry
  6. Bay City FC - 75 - Kyle Sullivan
Season Leaders
  1. Damaged Goods leads the way with a very undamaged 219 points under the management of Richard Matthew.
  2. EyePrime FC - 217 - Christy Guenther
  3. Honey Badgers FC - 216 - Kyle McElhinny
  4. Lucky Number se11 - 216 - Rodgesico
  5. KFC Official - 216 - Kentucky FC
International Absentees
This week is a bit of a mess due to MLS not following the FIFA calendar so there will be some premium players missing across the league as they return to represent their countries in World Cup Qualifying. The list of absentees can be found here. Graham Zusi, Robbie Keane, Omar Gonzalez, Alvaro Saborio, and Brad Davis are frequently-owned MLS fantasy players who will be absent. Fortunately, the game will notify you of who will be absent when you look at your team.

Bye Weeks
In addition to the international absentees, the Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers and Toronto FC are all on bye weeks so no help there.

The LA Galaxy hosting the Colorado Rapids is the headline match-up for fantasy managers with secondary interest in early season standouts Montreal Impact hosting the thus-far struggling New York Red Bulls and Sporting Kansas City traveling to Boston to face the still-figuring-out-what-they-have New England Revolution.

Quick Player Picks
Forwards - Jack McBean - with Robbie Keane off on international duty last week's goalscorer for the LAGals seems positioned to be a great bargain as a starter against dubious opposition. If you don't like that pick then the other side of LA offers up Juan Agudelo playing against a defense that has conceded the second most in the league (and the defense that has conceded the most is off this week so...).

Midfielders - Patrice Bernier is my pick here given New York's struggles so far and Montreal's propensity to score goals. With a goal and two assists already this season, Bernier is as strong an option as you'll find.

Defenders - Chris Korb is cheap and playing against a Columbus Crew team that will be missing one of their two attacking stalwarts Jarrio Arrieta to international duty. Seems like a recipe for success.

Goalkeepers - I'd put Jimmy Nielsen in this slot playing against the punchless New England Revolution who have only the one goal so far this season. Sporting will miss Matt Besler for sure but the Revs are still missing Taylor Twellman who won't be returning to score goals anytime soon so look for a Sporting KC clean sheet.