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MLS Player Picks Week 35: An Ode-acious Effort!

A quick review of the most influential story-lines of MLS fantasy in 2018, plus player picks to cap off the fantasy season.

MLS: Los Angeles Galaxy - Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic takes a free kick versus LAFC.
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

In the middle of March, MLS opens the door;
As fantasy managers man their keyboards.
We’ve run all the numbers, crunched every stat;
At the end of eighteen, here’s where we’re at:

Terminus Legion had high hopes in year two
Acquired Darlington Nagbe in hopes they’d break through.
Opponents dreams did their counterattack haunt
Despite all their scheming, Josef scores when he wants.

Schweinsteiger re-upped for a second season in MLS.
After one season, reaching the playoff success.
But, managers were forced to pass with him now playing back.
Nikolic, off his Golden Boot campaign, could not maintain attack.

There are very few takes for fantasy in Colorado;
They did some good business with one trade, though.
Kellyn Acosta burst in with with a blistering start!
Rumors are swirling, in twenty-nineteen they’ll have better parts.

Early on, Crew’s fate was threatened by that scumbag Precourt.
Columbus’s field play was its best retort.
Gyasi Zardes was a revelation, and that defensive line, too!
Thanks to the Haslam group! You #SavedTheCrew.

In their first season post-RFK,
The little Argentine magician led the way.
(Perhaps that analogy is a little too messy)
Everything did turn when they signed Wayne Rooney,
Culminating in one play versus Orlando City.

Having not a double-digit goal scorer,
El Capitan remained in their corner.
And their defense managers would often abhor,
As they gave up an untimely score.

Quioto and Elis bombing down the wings;
But, Manotas came a superstar, netting seventeen.
Despite their lack of league success,
They finally hoisted the Open Cup, at last.

Bob Bradley took charge of L.A.’s second team;
Hopes to cap inaugural with championship ring.
For the first el Traffico did the soccer world yield,
Though, forever engrained on highlights reel’d, thanks to Zlatan’s strike from midfield.

Since the jettison of Bruce Arenas,
Galaxy are dragged further in black hole.
Until the shooting superstar from Manchester came,
Zlatan’s masterclass lived up to his name.

The Minnesota franchise continued to build,
Selecting Darwin Quintero to lead the guild.
Overall, a positive season from the Loons;
Business yet to be done, though Allianz looms.

Ignacio Piatti runs ice cold or super-duper hot;
If we’re being honest, he’s all Montreal’s got.
With Evan Bush in goal, or someone from defense,
Hope play’s at home, or banish them to bench.

Revs players lacked much
Fantasy value; so, they
Got this short haiku.

Vieira was adamant, wanting to stay, something to prove
‘Til mid-season he left (to manage Les Bleus).
The vacancy saw the appointment of Torrent;
‘Ere a quick start, results turned torment.

BWP put twenty more balls into the net.
Still, at the back, Robles deserves more respect.
The young stars in midfield suddenly shine.
Still there’s a chance, the Supporters’ Shield be thine!

New, household, names had Lions fans uproar.
Once again, Kries’ appointment ended as EVERY before.
At least, he healthy, we tout Dom Dwyer to score.
But wait, while writing this, OCSC shipped three more.

Liberty Bell crack, which must have happened on the road,
‘Cause when Union play Talen, defense always holds.
Further up-pitch is a group of castoff men.
If you know what’s good, you’d re-sign Jim Curtin.

Savarese came in to strengthen defense, you see;
Cursing fantasists with dreaded Christmas tree.
Valeri and Blanco remained scoring threats.
Have they found a striker, yet?

How the Sandy men got here, we’ll never know;
Ne’er forwards nor defense, to playoffs they could go.
The midfield was our interest, for fantasy exploits:
Rusnak, Savarino, Plata, and Kreilach were our points.

‘Twas a season of turmoil in San Jose;
Vako and Hoesen emerged solid plays.
Other than they, you’d to pick your spots;
But, hey, that at least had the best seats for Wondo Watch!

Two seasons, two finals, for Brian Schmetzer.
Despite a rough spring, Rave Green fans must remember,
Seattle doesn’t start rolling ‘til September.
Lastly, thanks Uruguay, for sparing managers Lodeiro all summer.

Graham Zusi, illustrious right back,
Maximizing contributions in defense, and in attack!
What he could not stop himself, Tim Melia secured.
And in this fateful season, a team scoring record occurred.

With the same team from seventeen, that saw them prevail;
Two-thousand-eighteen finished off the rails.
Litany of injuries, nearly every player on roster,
Turned Giovinco into a shooting monster.

So many great moments Vancouver’s teenager provided,
Just go find the highlight of his goal versus United.
Alphonso Davies, after this season to Bayern;
Whitecaps’ other headline, Carl Robinson will not return.

I’ve aimed to provide analysis fair,
But the postseason will I sit in my chair;
My mug with frothy amber beverage will I fill up,
In hopes that Sporting will soon hoist the cup!


Here are my picks for game-week 35:


With all games starting at the same time, it’s as simple as picking your favorite match-up for this week, as you budget allows. My three favorites, in order, are: Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls, $10.4m), Stefan Frei (Seattle Sounders, $7.3m), and Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew, $7.3m). But, I currently have Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas, $6.4m) in my starting lineup. And, for the record, do not waste any money on you backup keeper. All games are played simultaneously on Decision Day. You have been warned.



To keep things simple this week, I rate all defenders commensurately with goalkeepers, with this week’s format. I am only starting three. I am putting defenders who will not see the field in the last two defender slots, so that the midfield and forward players I doubt can battle it out for the switcheroo.

New York Red Bulls

Tim Parker ($10.4m), Aaron Long ($9.9m), Michael Murillo ($9.4m), and Kemar Lawrence ($8.3m) all warrant a look, as NYRB look to win the Supporters’ Shield, needing a win. I have doubled up on the Red Bulls defense, aiming to secure the clean sheet points.

Seattle Sounders

Chad Marshall ($9.2m) and Kim Kee-Hee ($7.5m) have been two of my favorites all season. There is no reason to shy away from them at home, against San Jose.

Columbus Crew

The results have not been there for Columbus, lately. But, they need a win to guarantee their spot in the playoffs. With that in mind, Harrison Afful ($10.4m) ranks sixth in fantasy points for defenders this year. The security he provides outside the clean sheet makes him safe. This play is reserved for those with the strongest of intestinal fortitude.

Others Receiving Votes

Ike Opara (Sporting Kansas City, $11.5m), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City, $10.9m), and Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City, $10.3m) are riskier options, though they do play at home. A win earns them first place in the west. But, against LAFC, I do not know if a clean sheet is the most probable outcome.

In that same game, Walker Zimmerman (Los Angeles FC, $9.0m) provides the same potential, on the LAFC side of that match.

And, what about Bacary Sagna (Montreal Impact, 8.0m)? He’s on the road but against a lifeless New England squad, and Montreal have kept two consecutive clean sheets. Most importantly, they need a win to have any hope of making the playoffs.



Nicolas Lodiero (Seattle Sounders, $15.3m)

Nico is currently a man on form, and his price tag reflects that. He is the fourth highest scoring player on the season, though he has the highest average score of any midfielder in the top ten. Against San Jose, it would be difficult to pass, even at his sky high cost.

Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers, $9.5m)

Valeri looks to be peaking at just the right time for fantasy managers. He registered an assist in his last game, culminating in ten points. There is never any love lost in Cascadia match-ups. Plus, the Timbers are still jockeying for position in the Western Conference playoff picture. This Vancouver side conceded five goals to Sporting KC in their last home game.

Federico Higuain (Columbus Crew, $8.4m)

Again, another player who looks to be hitting top form heading into the playoffs. He scored a beautiful free kick against Orlando last weekend. Knowing a win can secure their playoff destinies, I would expect Higuain to be the key contributor if Columbus are to secure the sixth seed.

Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact, $12.3m)

The Impact need to win; no other result will do. If they are going to do that, Piatti will be involved. He is carrying the hopes of Montreal on his back. It would be tough to bet against him this week, knowing what is on the line.



Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls $11.2m)

Facing the worst defense in MLS, needing a win to have any chance at the Supporters’ Shield, I would expect BWP to be in the goals. And, with this matchup, multiples. Lock him in.

Josef Martinez (Atlanta United, $12.1m)

With the same Supporters’ Shield stakes on the line, the single-season goal-scoring record holder can extend that mark against a Toronto side the have consistently leaked goals all year.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Los Angeles Galaxy, $14.6m) and
Mauro Manotas (Houston Dynamo, $10.4m)

Rostering one or both of these strikers depends on your predicted outcome for this game. I sense fireworks, looking at each team’s defensive record. These two have 38 goals between them, and, I can see each increasing his total. Zlatan, obviously, is the player I most like to nab multiple goals.

Maxi Urruti (FC Dallas, $9.8m)

Do not forget that Dallas have things to play for yet. A win could see them move into second place in the west if LAFC and SKC draw. Urruti has been the main man in attack lately. He plays the number-ten role on paper, but he always finds a way to pop up in the danger areas and have an effort on goal. We have exploited the Rapids’ defense all season, why not once more, for old time’s sake?


With the final week of the season upon us, all you can do now is shoot your shot. All gimmicks and sneaky tactics have been removed, thanks to the simultaneous kickoffs. We will never know what the future holds, but thank you for your readership this season. Hopefully, I will see you all back here in the start of 2019. Good luck in week 35!


What audacious efforts are you making this week? Will you be loading up on the surefire tap-ins? Or, will you be peppering the goal from long-range? Let us know in the comments below!