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MLS Week 28 Player Picks: The Usual Suspects

In a microscopic fantasy slate, relying on the big names will be key. But, who are the lower priced players capable of making an impact, and stretching your budget?

MLS - New York City FC - Sean Johnson
Sean Johnson tends the goal against the Columbus Crew.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

While club soccer around the world takes a momentary pause after a raucous start to their respective domestic seasons, America’s Major League Soccer powers right on through the international break. This brash choice, repeatedly taken by the league, leaves us fantasy managers with a doozy of a slate: four games and seven teams.

With the limited number of options available to choose from, making big moves in the overall standings is unlikely, given the amount of probable fantasy ownership overlap. In cases like this, I like to play it safe and own as many of the well known names as I can. For me, with an operating budget of $121.2m, this week was not too difficult. From what I have gathered in the community, this is on the higher end of the spectrum. So, this week I thought I would highlight one mid-priced player from each team to help fit your budget:


New York City F.C.

Since NYCFC have a double game-week, I feel it is only fair to provide two suggestions. The first is a no-brainer: Sean Johnson, goalkeeper ($6.7m). He is the only goalkeeper with two games this week. With both games coming at home, do not try to be too cute, just play Johnson.

Secondly, David Villa, forward ($9.1m) is a great bargain at his current price tag. With the multitude of injuries and departures due to international duty, Villa is likely to star in both home games, playing nearly 90 minutes in each, if not a full 180 minutes for the week. Six of the Spaniard’s ten goals have come at home this season.


New England Revolution

While my current squad does not feature any players from the Revolution roster, currently, Teal Bunbury, midfielder ($7.7m) has been the man lining up as the lone striker in New England’s 4-2-3-1 formation. And, his recent form has been productive, netting two goals in his last four games.


D.C. United

I am going to cop out here. There are only two desirable assets, right now: Wayne Rooney, forward ($11.3m) and Luciano Acosta, midfielder ($10.5m). One could argue that these are the two hottest players in MLS right now. Everything that happens for D.C. United runs through these two players. Pay up to get both if your budget allows, but at the very least get one of them.


Sporting Kansas City

While he has not hit the heights of his pre-injury performances, Felipe Gutierrez, midfielder ($6.8m), has started to regain his form in the S.K.C. midfield. Lately he has become a bonus point magnet, returning points for completed passes and breakups. With the amount of attacking power missing from this weekend’s game, Sporting will need someone to spark their attack, and Gutierrez showed he is capable of that with his blistering start to the 2018 season, tallying five goals in his first five games.


Orlando City SC

If you love narratives, Dom Dwyer, forward ($9.4m) is your guy. This week, he heads back to Kansas City, who traded him to Orlando last season. Having scored in four of his last five matches, he has hit a strong run of form. If Orlando are to break through against the staunch Sporting defense, it is likely going to come through him. And, I think he would revel in the idea of celebrating in front of an away crowd he knows ever so fondly, after the way thing ended for him in Sporting blue.


Portland Timbers

With Diego Valeri struggling to find form lately, there has not been much fantasy return from the vaunted Timber’s attack, so, we will turn to their defense instead. Jorge Villafana, defender ($7.0m) helped contribute to a Portland clean sheet in his first start since rejoining the club during the transfer window. With the propensity for the Timbers’ outside backs to get forward on the counter, it would not be surprising to see Villafana earn some attacking returns, especially for a side that needs an offensive spark.


Colorado Rapids

Much like New England, Colorado offers little in terms of fantasy assets. But, if you want to take a flier on a player, and start him on your bench, Dillon Serna, midfielder ($4.6m) is a good candidate. In their last game against Real Salt Lake, Serna started at the center forward spot. There are no stats to back up this pick, it is all based simply on opportunity.


With the greatly limited slate, I recommend sticking to the usual suspects, as you budget allows. I recommend the players in this piece for helping to stretch that budget to get as many in-form stars as you can in your starting eleven. I do not think there is a great opportunity to make a leap in the standings this game-week, but with a roster full of differentiation, I think a manager could see a pretty drastic fall if he is not careful.


What players are you looking at squeezing into your lineup for this game-week’s condensed slate? What match-ups are you relying on most heavily? Are you an American with a favorite MLS team to root for? Let us know in the comment section, below!