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MLS Player Picks Week 30: Fringe Benefits

Managers have been blessed with plenty of talent for week 30 of the fantasy MLS campaign. But, who are the fringe players who could make the greatest difference?

MLS - Seattle Sounders - Raul Ruidiaz
Raul Ruidiaz settles the ball against Russel Teibert
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Soccer brings us an extended midweek slate for game-week 30. With six teams on a double game week (DGW), the player pool is large enough to fill our squads. This slate also provides plenty of scoring potential with the likes of Atlanta United, Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, and Philadelphia Union all participating. Columbus Crew and San Jose Earthquakes will provide some budget alternatives, as well.

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Goalkeepers

With all three of the midweek games starting within 30 minutes of each other, there is no need for any goalkeeper hijinks. My favorite for this game-week is Brad Guzan (Atlanta United, $5.4m). His match-ups with San Jose and Real Salt Lake look to have the best opportunities for two clean sheets. The only other option worth looking at is Stefan Frei (Seattle Sounders, $9.0m). The drawbacks for Frei are that the fixtures are both tougher, and he comes at a much higher cost. But, the Sounders’ current run of form is unmatched by any other team in MLS.

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Atlanta United

If you go with Brad Guzan as your goalkeeper, that leaves you three more slots for his teammates. The two obvious candidates are Miguel Almiron (midfield, $11.5m) and Josef Martinez (forward, $14.0m). After that, I like Leandro Gonzalez Pirez (defender, $7.7m) as a mid-priced defender option. Michael Parkhurst (defender, $6.7m) is an option too, but I prefer the attacking influence that Gonzalez Pirez provides throughout the game. If you would like to maximize your Atlanta attacking options, Hector Villalba (forward, $10.4m) looks to be the best option. The midfield is a slight worry this week as Darlington Nagbe (midfielder, $6.5m) is set to return, which has me a little concerned about the possibility of rotation among the other attacking midfielders not named Miguel Almiron. If you think that Nagbe will play both matches, or even most of both matches, he is a definite bargain, but I am not so sure.

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Seattle Sounders

Much like Atlanta’s dynamic duo, Seattle possesses a tantalizing attacking partnership. Nicolas Lodeiro (midfielder, $14.5m) and Raul Ruidiaz (forward, $9.5m) are piloting this sensational Sounders run. Ruidiaz has been lethal in front of goal, having scored four times in his last four games, including a brace last week. Lodeiro checks all the boxes you are looking for, especially when you consider he is the most expensive asset in the game. On the periphery, I like the Seattle defenders. Even though they lack a high clean sheet upside, defenders Chad Marshall (defender, $8.8m), Kim Kee-Hee (defender, $9.0m), and Brad Smith (defender, $7.0m), will provide enough bonus point potential to safeguard your lineup. I could see doubling up with one of the centerbacks, Marshall or Kee-Hee, and pairing one of them with Smith.

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Portland Timbers

For Portland, it is all Diego Valeri (midfield, $11.5m), all the time. I find myself being drawn to Diego Chara (midfield, $9.1m) for a safe bonus point vacuum on my bench, given the rough run of form for the more attacking Sebastian Blanco (midfield, $9.0m). In defense, I am drawn to three specific names: Larrys Mabiala (defense, $8.3m), Liam Ridgewell (defense, $7.0m), and Jorge Villafana (defense, $8.0m). Mabiala provides the all around upside you are searching for in a defender: clean sheets, goals, and bonus points. Ridgewell provides all the same at a lesser level, and a lesser price. And, if it is attacking aggression you want, Villafana is your man. Much like the Sounders, the doubled-up back line is in play with the Timbers. They may even have a more likely route to clean sheets.

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Philadelphia Union

As much as I have enjoyed using Union players this season, I am tepid on including any of them for this game-week. They have the toughest match-ups against two of the hottest teams in MLS: at Seattle, then home to Sporting Kansas City. I am avoiding all forward and defender options because of this. If I do roll with anyone Philadelphia players, it will come as a bench midfielder. That narrows the list down to two: Borek Dockal (midfield, $11.6m) and Harris Medunjanin (midfielder, $9.2m). Dockal is the playmaker, having nine assists in his last ten games, and he always finds a way to sprinkle on a few bonus points as well. He will be involved if the Union do produce any goals this week. Medunjanin’s skill set and role are similar to Dockal, just to a less reliable extent, fitting his cheaper price point.

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Columbus Crew

Whom can you trust? If you have room for a premium defender this week, then Harrison Afful (defender, $9.0m) is a strong recommendation. There exists a chance where Columbus snare two clean sheets, if Portland cannot solve their goal-scoring issues. But, one clean sheet buoyed by Afful’s bonus points and attacking opportunities put him under strong consideration anyway. Can you find the money, though? If there is a second option that I trust, it is probably Gyasi Zardes (forward, $8.1m). He has not scored a goal in three weeks, but even if he blanks against Portland, that Colorado match-up could payoff with a goal. The striker position is devoid of DGW stars after Martinez and Ruidiaz, above.

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San Jose Earthquakes

With the Earthquakes in turmoil following the sacking of their head coach, my expectations for them this week are this: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. While the defensive options are a hard pass, they have some intriguing options at the other end of the pitch. Vako (midfield, $11.0m) popped up with three goals during his last DGW. The defenses he faces this week are stronger than the ones he faced in week 27, though. The bonus points he has racked up make him viable, alongside his role on set pieces. The other attacking option that I like is Danny Hoesen (forward, $6.5m). He came off the bench and scored against Sporting K.C. last week. He comes in as a cheap bench option at a thin forward position this week.

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We have been given plenty of talent to harvest a bushel of points this week. The top-end talent is far more than we could have asked for, given a six team DGW slate. Each manager’s switcheroos in conjunction with those last couple fringe players are going to be the greatest differentials this week.

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Who are the last few players to make your roster? Who are you looking to bolster your Atlanta, Seattle, and Portland, stars? Let us know in the comments below!

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