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If there was ever a time when you can’t afford to neglect your fantasy MLS team, that time is fast approaching.
With international call-ups beginning to occur with far more frequency, there will be MLS players missing time left and right and if you aren’t on top of your fantasy lineup, you could find yourself plummeting in the standings.
SBI MLS Fantasy guru Stephen Zaffuto is all over this looming problem and will be able to steer you through the pitfalls of the summer in Fantasy MLS. Here is this week’s SBI MLS Fantasy Corner:
By STEPHEN ZAFFUTO
With a number of MLS players slated to miss games over the next few weeks due to international team training camps, friendlies and competitions, the landscape of MLS Fantasy will be affected in three ways. Some usually strong players will need to be avoided, some new players may emerge as viable options, and some teams will be put at a disadvantage by being without one or more star player.
This should go without saying, but players who will be missing MLS matches should be avoided or (if they have already infiltrated your roster) sold. The incomparable Dylan Butler at MLSnet.com did yeoman-like work (if by yeoman-like, I mean work that I would have had to do myself) by writing about all of the players expected to miss time in this article.
For you click-lazy Neanderthals who have trouble reading without moving your mouths let alone following a link, I’ll give a quick rundown of the important things to note for week 10 in particular. Houston’s Ricardo Clark will miss the team’s May 18th match against FC Dallas, while Dwane DeRosario and Pat Onstad will probably miss the match on May 31 against the Red Bulls; FC Dallas’ defender Adrian Serioux will likely miss his team’s game on June 1; Colorado’s Bouna Coundoul will be out nearly all of June; New England’s Kenny Mansally will miss time while with Gambia; TFC’s Amado Guevara , Carl Robinson, Greg Sutton and Jim Brennan all appear likely to be out of the lineup for this week’s match against the Galaxy; All the USMNT players who play in Wednesday’s friendly with England risk seeing limited minutes in their respective club’s week 10 match, as does England’s lone lad representing “the MLS”, David Beckham.
Most of the players mentioned above as well as a few others (including Shalrie Joseph, Khano Smith and Marco Velez) will miss an additional game or two through the month of June. In most cases, these players should be benched or avoided until they regain their sides for good following this early summer spate of international footballing mayhem.
On the other hand, the absences of these players should open up spots in the starting eleven for several players to have value that normally wouldn’t be worth a second thought. A few of these players will be noted below.
The third factor is the flipside of the emergence of quality new options – since MLS is still a very shallow league, most teams cannot afford to replace their stars. The lineup spots that are usually occupied by the team’s best players will now be filled by some jobber or clumsy rookie trying his hardest to distinguish certain parts of his anatomy from common topographical depressions. Teams who match up against these weakened squads stand to benefit, in the form of extra goal-scoring chances for offensive players and clean sheets for defenders and goalkeepers.
For Your Consideration:
- FC Dallas and Houston are both slated to play two matches – each hosting one and traveling for the other.
- Real Salt Lake faces San Jose’s offense.
- Kansas City and Chicago have no games scheduled for Week 10.
- As a result of fielding less than full strength squads, many teams may switch to ugly defensive tactics to try and steal a point, resulting in a few more clean sheets.
Edson Buddle, LAG ($289K) – Look who finally gets mentioned here. The Week 8 breakout may not have been a fluke, as the enigmatic forward has looked very good over the past few weeks. With Landon Donovan and David Beckham drawing the attention of the opposition’s defense and distributing the ball, Galaxy forwards will see plenty of opportunities. With his impressive recent form, Carlos Ruiz not quite back to full fitness and Alan Gordon being Alan Gordon, Buddle could continue to be the beneficiary of getting chances for the league’s most potent offense. The fact that they will be facing a Toronto FC squad significantly weakened by players’ international duty is merely the cherry on top of this delicious Edson Buddle sundae (I’m convinced that’s the first time those words have been used in succession).
Honorable Mention: Kheli Dube, Kenny Deuchar, Omar Cummings, Luciano Emilio
Stuart Holden, HOU ($175K) – Way undervalued due to an early-season injury, Holden is too good of a player to stay down for long. With two matches this week, the odds that Holden puts himself on the score sheet are about the same as the odds that his namesake Holden Caulfield calls someone a phony at least once every fifty pages in The Catcher in the Rye (Spoiler alert for those who can’t read or haven’t read since 1950: that means pretty likely…but more importantly, how did you find this column?). Bonus: Houston is set to play two more games in Week 11.
Honorable Mention: Arturo Alvarez, Steve Ralston, Kyle Beckerman
Nat Borchers, RSL ($304K) – Though San Jose looked a little bit more potent in last week’s win against Houston, it’s still advisable to play against them in most instances. RSL’s defense has been solid at home, and Borchers has been a mainstay on the team’s backline all year. Come for the clean sheet, stay for the possible odd assist or goal.
Sean Franklin, LAG ($175K) – Believe it or not, Galaxy defenders are looking like a pretty decent play this week. With Toronto FC set to be without leading playmakers Robert (Suspension), Guevara (Int’l Duty) and defensive midfielder Carl Robinson (Int’l Duty), offensive creativity in the final third may be lacking for the Canadian squad. If the Galaxy can avoid any big mistakes (please stop snickering), a clean sheet could be in the offing.
Honorable Mention: Bobby Boswell, Chad Marshall, Drew Moor
Nick Rimando, RSL ($314K) – San Jose is still San Jose, and despite their two-goal performance last week, they’ll still have to prove they can score on the road before I stop recommending opposing goalkeepers. Rimando led the league in saves last year, and continues to come up big behind this year’s improved defensive unit.
Preston Burpo, COL ($175K) – A bargain basement goalkeeper, Burpo is almost guaranteed to add to his monetary value now that he will likely be getting the majority of the starts between the pipes while Coundoul is off representing his country in Africa. If I knew anything about him at all, I’d write it here…OK, that’s not important, just know that this could be a good opportunity to buy low.
Honorable Mention: Steve Cronin, Tony Caig, Matt Reis
Ruud Gullit, LAG ($265) – Gullit has been downright embarrassing opposing coaches over the past few weeks. His tactics have worked to perfection and he seems to have his club playing an inspired and, dare I say…exciting brand of soccer over the past two weeks. Against a shorthanded Toronto side, Gullit could make it three in a row and further legitimize his selection as head coach of the Southern California Global Marketing Initiative that is the LA Galaxy.
Honorable Mention: Dom Kinnear, Sigi Schmid
Under the Radar:
Fred, DCU ($318K) – With (-3) points coming into this week, Fred’s perceived value is a little down. However, the Brazilian with the least exciting one-name moniker imaginable has brought DC United’s offense to life since returning from an injury suffered in late April. While this week’s matchup against New England is not tailor made for success, it’s only a matter of time until Fred busts loose for a few assists or a goal, and you’ll want to have him on your squad when it happens.
In closing: think about using a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3 this week. There appear to be fewer top notch options at midfield this week than usual, and with defensive tactics being likely in many matchups, you could benefit from an extra clean sheet bonus or two.