Fantasy MLS: Week 1

Fantasy MLS: Week 1

Fantasy Soccer

Fantasy MLS: Week 1

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JuanPabloAngelGetty FredyGetty LandonGetty

ZachThorntonGetty DwayneDeRoReuters CaseyGetty

By AVI CREDITOR

With the Major League Soccer season thankfully getting started as scheduled, another Fantasy MLS campaign begins. Drafting your team is the most important step at ensuring fantasy success. Yes, making the right transfers can buoy your team to new heights, but the initial selection is crucial.

For our drafting primer, we'll separate the players you should target into three distinct categories: The Sure Things (expensive, but productive); The Bargains (not as expensive, should produce at a high level); and The Cost-Effective Sleepers (not expensive, but could surprisingly produce).

Remember, transfers are free until Thursday night's first kick, so if you've already picked your team and want to change things up it won't cost you a dime.

Here's who you should consider drafting (prices listed next to player; Salary cap is 2,750 on mfls.com):

THE SURE THINGS (160 or more)

FORWARD

  • Landon Donovan, Los Angeles (300) – Face of the league coming off great Everton loan stint
  • Juan Pablo Angel, New York (300) – Health an issue, but team's attack is vastly improved
  • Fredy Montero, Seattle (270) – Second-year star relied on to produce for Sounders
  • Jeff Cunningham, Dallas (240) – 2009 Golden Boot winner had 17 goals, eight assists a year ago
  • Brian Ching, Houston (206) – World Cup motivation should fuel hot start
  • Omar Cummings, Colorado (180) – Half of one of league's top striker tandems; 12 assists last year
  • Robbie Findley, Salt Lake (180) – Speedster still trying to impress Bob Bradley
  • Brian McBride, Chicago (175) – Attacking vet as reliable as they come
  • Conor Casey, Colorado (160) – 16 goals last year; still fighting for USMNT spot this summer

MIDFIELD

  • Freddie Ljungberg, Seattle (300) – Productive DP had great first MLS season
  • Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Columbus (275) – Ultimate playmaker runs Crew offense
  • Dwayne De Rosario, Toronto F.C. (222) – 11 goals, six assists in first season with Toronto
  • Sacha Kljestan, Chivas USA (200) – Make or break year for USMNT prospect
  • Shalrie Joseph, New England (190) – Offensive production should continue to grow in '10
  • Brad Davis, Houston (160) – Winger must take on even bigger role with departures of Holden, Clark

DEFENSE

  • Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Seattle (200) – Anchor of Sounders sound D unit
  • Wilman Conde, Chicago (180) – 2009 All-Star is Fire's top defender
  • Chad Marshall, Columbus (173) – Two-time reigning league Defender of the Year
  • Jimmy Conrad, Kansas City (165) – Veteran centerback keys Wizards' defense
  • Jonathan Bornstein, Chivas USA (160) – Eyes positive momentum heading into World Cup
  • Heath Pearce, Dallas (160) – Possible USMNT selection gets first full season in MLS

GOALKEEPER

  • Kasey Keller, Seattle (218) – Ageless wonder still gets it done at a high level
  • Troy Perkins, D.C. (190) – Brought in to be hands-down No. 1; should perform like it
  • Will Hesmer, Columbus (186) – Staunch defense in front of him should make life a bit simpler
  • Pat Onstad, Houston (180) – See: Keller, Kasey
  • Nick Rimando, Salt Lake (174) – Playoff hero is at the top of his game
  • Donovan Ricketts, Los Angeles (164) – Solid keeper has rock-solid D in front of him

THE BARGAINS (101-159)

FORWARD

  • Alejandro Moreno, Philadelphia (150) – Best bet for Philly to score
  • Ryan Johnson, San Jose (140) – 11 goals a season ago, could benefit from midfield acquisitions
  • Chris Pontius, D.C. (140) – Big sophomore season in store for potential future national teamer
  • Nate Jaqua, Seattle (130) – Capable No. 2 option next to Montero until Nkufo arrives.
  • Josh Wolff, Kansas City (125) – Like Johnson, 11 goals last year and team improved offensively
  • Mac Kandji, New York (120) – Dangerous in tandem with Angel
  • Kei Kamara, Kansas City (120) – High-upside attacker had strong preseason
  • Steven Lenhart, Columbus (120) – Champions League performances displayed his finishing ability
  • Mike Magee, Los Angeles (120) – High-potential forward benefits by Donovan's presence
  • Dominic Oduro, Houston (120) – Will get his chances if Landin fails to deliver

MIDFIELD

  • Kyle Beckerman, Salt Lake (155) – Heartbeat of MLS Cup holders
  • Santino Quaranta, D.C. (150) – New role as creative central midfielder boosts fantasy value
  • Marco Pappa, Chicago (150) – Looked upon to pick up scoring load with absences of Blanco, Rolfe
  • David Ferreira, Dallas (150) – Eight goals, eight assists a year ago
  • Steve Zakuani, Seattle (130) – Big things expected from last year's No. 1 pick
  • Joel Lindpere, New York (120) – Estonian's strong preseason shows loads of potential
  • Javier Robles, San Jose (120) – Argentine spark-plug showed preseason promise
  • Osael Romero, Chivas USA (120) – New signing brought in to boost Chivas' attack

DEFENSE

  • Frankie Hejduk, Columbus (150) – Helps anchor top D unit with Marshall
  • Danny Califf, Philadelphia (150) – Top dog of impressive unit for expansion Union
  • Omar Gonzalez, Los Angeles (140) – Defensive Rookie of the Year in '09 only getting better
  • Jamison Olave, Salt Lake (130) – Physical centerback provides protection for Rimando
  • Geoff Cameron, Houston (120) – Will feature more in MF, meaning more offensive chances
  • Kevin Alston, New England (110) – Up-and-coming right back is a star if healthy
  • James Riley, Seattle (110) – Right back a constant for Sounders

GOALKEEPER

  • Zach Thornton, Chivas USA (150) – 2009 Goalkeeper of the Year led league in clean sheets (12)
  • Stefan Frei, Toronto F.C. (150) – Looks to build on stellar rookie campaign
  • Joe Cannon, San Jose (140) – Steady in goal, has improved defensive unit to help out
  • Matt Pickens, Colorado (129) – Entrenched starter had seven clean sheets last season
  • Jimmy Nielsen, Kansas City (110) – Dutch keeper tabbed to fill Hartman's shoes

THE COST-EFFECTIVE SLEEPERS (100 or less)

FORWARD

  • Danny Mwanga, Philadelphia (90) – First pick in SuperDraft will get opportunities in rookie campaign
  • O'Brian White, Toronto (90) – Considering team's forward situation, former college star should get a chance to start 
  • Zack Schilawski, New England (80) – Revs could turn to rookie after hot preseason
  • Andre Akpan (70) – If Casey gets the call to South Africa, the Harvard product will be asked to step in

MIDFIELD

  • Juninho, Los Angeles (100) – Brazilian attacking midfielder could play huge role early
  • Ryan Smith, Kansas City (100) – Big things expected from player who began senior career with Arsenal
  • Michael Stephens, Los Angeles (80) – Galaxy rookie drawing rave reviews
  • Toni Stahl, Philadelphia (65) – Ready to contribute most out of team's rookie class

DEFENSE

  • Ike Opara, San Jose (85) – Rookie centerback is MLS-ready and could be opening-day starter.
  • Tim Ream, New York (70) – Rookie centerback in Defensive ROY discussion before season starts
  • Tony Beltran, Salt Lake (70) – A steal at that price if he wins the starting job
  • Darrius Barnes, New England (62) – Second-year centerback played every game for Revs in '09

GOALKEEPER

  • Chris Seitz, Philadelphia (100) – USMNT prospect finally given chance to start
  • Preston Burpo, New England (80) – Should be steady while Matt Reis misses time
  • Andrew Dykstra, Chicago (43) – Surprise starter should be universally owned at that price

COACH

I'm personally taking Sigi Schmid, because Seattle's schedule is favorable in the early going, and the team is the trendy pick to make it out of the Western Conference. Columbus, another favorite, has two bye weeks in the first four weeks of the season, making Robert Warzycha a less-attractive option. F.C. Dallas, Kansas City, San Jose, Toronto F.C. and Philadelphia are all also off in Week 2.

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Who did you select for your team? Who do you think will be the top fantasy performer this season? Who do you think will be the biggest surprises?

Share your thoughts below.

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