MLS GW31 Tips Fantasy Major League Soccer
I’m trying to find a polite way to describe how the last round of MLS action felt. It’s my nature to be…slightly off-color, and I’m trying to fix that. And here I am thinking, should I say that the last round was a real ‘punch in the gut’? Was it maybe a ‘bell ringer’ of a hit? And then I thought no, it was a kick to the junk. That’s all I got. That’s as polite as I can describe it.
The game is infuriatingly erratic. Even your best research coupled with your best guesses can’t help you to see something like Seattle winning 4-2 in LA (and Lodeiro getting zero goals). Or how about NYRB only getting a single goal against Montreal…via a goal by Royer? Does somebody want to tell me who Royer is? I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know he was a person until I saw the box score – and I have watched more MLS than most. Apparently I’m not alone since he’s still selected by 0.0% of all fantasy players. So like I said, it was a real kick to the junk type of weekend. Pardon my French.
But keep faith, the MLS has given us a DGW to get the scores back up to a decent level again. If you can pick the players that don’t get rotated, you’ll be on your way to a winning round. And as a reminder, this round kicks off on Wednesday, so don’t forget to make your transfers. [clear]
#1) The upcoming schedule
The beginning of our last hard stretch of schedule is now upon us. If you’re saving your wildcard for any reason, now is the time to start to think about whether you’re going to use it this week or save it for next week to avoid the byes. Either way, we do have a universal wildcard in two rounds for all to use.
I know I’ve written about this extensively before, but here’s the recap: this week we have 8 teams on a double (Chicago, Columbus, DC, Montreal, Orlando, San Jose, Seattle and Toronto). Of those 8 teams, only Chicago, Columbus, San Jose and Seattle won’t be affected with a bye next round – the other four teams will be out of action.
Speaking of next round, 14 teams will be on a bye (this is the MLS’s solution to working around international dates). Of the teams that aren’t on a bye, Colorado and Houston will play a double (go figure). And then in the week that follows we’ll have all teams playing a normal schedule for the last two rounds to finish the year.
It’s going to be a mess. And we’ll have to keep an eye out for international call-ups as well. So if you’re planning on investing big into several of the better clubs, be warned that some of those players may not be available to play next round – and depending on how coaches are feeling about their playoff positions, the players may miss an additional round for ‘rest’ if the team isn’t playing for anything meaningful. So buyer beware on that front.
#2) Key matches
Let’s start with Colorado at home vs. Portland. In a surprise twist, the team with the best shot at the Supporters Shield is still the Colorado Rapids with 48 points on the year. Even though FC Dallas have 53 points, Colorado have 2 games in hand, so they have a higher potential points ceiling than any other team in the league. And the good news for Colorado is that they play another home fixture whilst Portland are still the only team without a road win this year. Portland are sitting at just 41 points, which is good enough for a 3-point cushion over Seattle for the last playoff spot in the West. The problem for Portland is that Seattle also have a pair of games in hand, so Portland really don’t control their own destiny – and they’ll have to find a way to win a road fixture if they want to maintain their spot. At the time of the writing of this article, no odds have been posted for this match, but it’s hard to see Colorado not being a huge favorite with their home record set against Portland’s road record.
Next we’ll go to DC at home vs Columbus. DC United hold the last playoff spot in the East right now with 37 points from 30 games played. Columbus are in 9th place with 32 points from 29 games played. So both teams will be hyper-motivated to get the result from this fixture since both still have a shot at making the postseason. DC are the clear favorites in the bookies’ eyes with a +105 rating to win the match, and Columbus are getting a longshot’s marking at +225 to win. Really though, Columbus are just 2-8-3 on the road this year, so you really do have to tip your cap to DC in this spot. One thing is for sure, with so much on the line, the bookies are giving this game a favorable -110 rating to go over 3 goals, so expect plenty of scoring and plenty of chances taken on both sides.
Lastly, let’s look at Seattle v. Chicago. If you were expecting a few sneaky longshots to pay off from Chicago, you may have to wait a for a round or two to see them pay off. Seattle, like I said, are going to be gunning for that last playoff spot, and their recent win in LA shows that the team is actually pretty dangerous with or without Dempsey leading the charge. Seattle are favored by a goal in this match and are getting -115 on that spread; and on the straight moneyline bet, they’re getting a very favored -190 for the outright win. Until international call-ups are announced, you have to play your Seattle coverage for full effect – and given that this is a DGW for them, they probably should be high on you list of captaincy prospects as well.
Sell – Didier Drogba. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if you’re looking for DGW points from any team, Montreal probably aren’t the team to select this round. How many times do they have to let you down before you finally slough them off? In the month of September, Montreal have failed to secure a win in any of their four matches – and the most they’ve scored is a single goal in any match during that time. Montreal are also going to have a bye next week, so you’re going to have to ship them out then anyway; do yourself a favor and just drop the dead weight now before you get stuck watching them turn in another subpar performance for your team.
Buy – Shkelzen Gashi. Now that the Colorado forward is back in full action, he may have surprised many people with his two goal performance this last round. But if really shouldn’t have been a surprise when you look at his history. Before being sidelined for a couple of weeks, Gashi was scoring a goal every other round between GW21 and GW26, and his average score in that span was a nifty 7.2 per game in that five week stretch. He’s not a flashy forward by any means, but he’s doing his part in keeping Colorado in the hunt for the best record in the league. And against a travelling Portland team? You have to like his chances to net a goal. Plus, you can carry him straight into next week being one of the two teams on a double.
Sell – Robbie Keane. This week LA travel to Dallas, and it has all the markings of a game that Bruce Arena isn’t going to be trying his best to win. LA will be playing this road game against a Dallas side that will be trying to win out to vie for the Supporters Shield. Meanwhile, LA are still reasonably secure in the fact that they’ll qualify for the playoffs with a win against Houston and at least a draw at home to close out the year. Not only are LA just a mediocre squad on the road, but their bye week next week means that none of their players are really worth carrying forward for the next couple of rounds. You can spend your money better in other places this week.
Buy – Mauro Manotas. In some strange twist, Mauro Manotas is getting the chance in Houston that Cubo Torres was never really afforded – but at least the kid is making the most of his opportunity. Manotas netted a hat trick this past week against Portland, and he was also able to score a goal two rounds prior. It’s obvious that Will Bruin is not the answer for long term success in Houston (if he was, would they be in last place?), but maybe Houston are turning the corner and allowing some fresh blood to take a shot at getting results. The conditions for getting Manotas are perfect actually. He’s super cheap at $6.1, he’s on the goals and he has a DGW coming up next round. Really, there’s no reason not to take a chance on him and spend more money on other power players right now.
#4) Captain Picks
Jozy Altidore tops my list again this week even though he had a blank last week. Having a double with a pair of home fixtures is just too good to pass up. Giovinco is still not listed as being fully fit – and in all honesty, with their bye next week, it would make more sense for the club to remain cautious and not rush his return now that Toronto have secured a playoff spot. So in lieu of not having Giovinco around, it’s still a smart play to give Altidore a chance to try for the Supporters Shield by himself.
Nicolas Lodeiro is my number two pick this week with Seattle also being on a double. The Chicago game may net enough points for me to look past Altidore playing twice at home, but it’s a close call. Even though Lodeiro wasn’t on the goals this last week, he still contributed an assist to the winning cause. That means that through 8 straight matches that he’s played in the MLS, he hasn’t yet failed to either give a goal or an assist. Simply put, he’s money. Altidore probably has the better chance of a random outburst of high scoring from players bouncing crosses off his forehead, but Lodeiro is the smart play to get a guaranteed return on investment.
Finally, Ola Kamara can’t be overlooked with the form he’s in right now. He’s done this before, gone on a run that makes it seem like goal scoring is inevitable. He’s now scored back to back braces, and has 5 goals over his last three matches. Before he comes back down to earth, it wouldn’t be a horrible idea to jump on his bandwagon.
Don’t forget to stop by mlsfantasyboss.com to catch up on their great weekly articles that lead into the deadline.
Or if you are after listening to more of Guy himself then be sure to drop in and give his Married Man’s Guide to Sports Addiction a listen!
To play the MLS game itself it’s fantasy.mlssoccer.com that you need.
And last but not least, don’t forget to join the FF247 MLS League, Code is: 123-361
MLS GW31 Tips Fantasy Major League Soccer This article was written by Guy Sanchez (FootyFantastic)