These days, 5-3-2 is usually seen as a sign of respect when facing an opponent far superior in strength (e.g., anyone vs. Barcelona).
But to win in Fantasy Soccer: Manager, perhaps it's best to think that you are playing Messi & Co. each week. The FS:M Dream Team has lined up with five defenders four out of five weeks thus far. Ironically, this formation is producing more points for teams than the 4-3-3 and 3-4-3. I myself have been lined up mostly in a 3-4-3 thinking that midfielders and forwards would get me the most points. Fail.
Player HAWAIIFAN13 proved the benefits of the 5-3-2. In Week 5, he rode the formation to 106 points, the second highest score recorded by a team this year.
So what does this mean for the rest of the 2012? Do the stats suggest taking a completely different approach and start dumping midfielders (and even forwards) for defenders? You be the judge.
Players averaging 5.0 points or more per game (by position)
Defenders – 27
Goalkeepers – 12
Midfielders – 10
Forwards – 8
The numbers above should make your decision a little easier. At this point in the season, there is more security in starting defenders than there is at any other position. Honestly, it’s not even close. Forwards and midfielders can be a huge investment, and so far, most of them aren’t living up to the asking price.
Need help with your squad? Tweet your MLS Fantasy Soccer questions to @Ben_Jata
New England Revoltion derrotó como visitante al flamante campeón de la MLS, LA Galaxy. San José hizo lo mismo en Seattle. Vancouver Whitecaps sigue invicto y no ha recibido un gol en contra hasta ahora… esta temporada ha sido simplemente impredecible.
Aun así, vamos a tratar.
A partir de la esta Jornada 5, el grupo de Tiro Libre: Kristel Valencia, el Gringo Simon Borg, nuestro productor (e incansable fan del Arsenal FC) Carlos Rodriguez, y yo ofreceremos nuestras predicciones de los partidos a jugarse cada fecha.
Tendremos aciertos y tendremos fallas, pero los invitamos a que nos acompañen en esta travesía y nos den sus predicciones cada semana por este medio o por Twitter en @FutbolMLS.
¿Quién será el Walter Mercado del fútbol?
El Gringo Simon
The nice thing about age-group soccer is that another chance to make good is always right around the corner.
For the US, that means shifting focus from the failure of the U-23s to the next crop of U-20s. Or as I'll be referring to them in my head, "Luis Gil's Group."
The Real Salt Lake youngster is by far the most experienced player in Tab Ramos' squad, announced by US Soccer on Monday, which also includes three other MLSers: Jack McBean of the LA Galaxy; Jonathan Top of FC Dallas; and Victor Pineda of the Chicago Fire.
Here's the whole squad, courtesy of US soccer:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Tomas Gomez (Georgetown; Webster Groves, Mo.), Jake McGuire (Chivas USA Academy; Pomona, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (9): Christian Dean (California; East Palo Alto, Calif.), Bryan Gallego (Akron; Kinnelon, N.J.), Jordan McCrary (North Carolina; Marietta, Ga.), Eric Miller (Creighton; Woodbury, Minn.), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Tigres UANL; Riverside, Calif.), Boyd Okwuonu (North Carolina; Edmund, Okla.), William Packwood (Birmingham City; Concord, Mass.), Jeffrey Payeras (LA Galaxy Academy; Hawthorne, Calif.), Derek Vogel (Pateadores; Long Beach, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Seth Casiple (California; Rocklin, Calif.), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake; Garden Grove, Calif.), Benji Joya (Santos Laguna; San Jose, Calif.), Mikey Lopez (North Carolina; Mission, Texas), Collin Martin (D.C. United Academy; Chevy Chase, Md.), Victor Pineda (Chicago Fire; Bolingbrook, Ill.), Wil Trapp (Akron; Gahanna, Ohio)
FORWARDS (6): Daniel Cuevas (Santos Laguna; Sacramento, Calif.), Ethan Decker (New York Red Bulls Academy; Manahawkin, N.J.), Daniel Garcia (FC Dallas Academy; Dallas), Jack McBean (LA Galaxy; Newport Beach, Calif.), James Rogers (New Mexico; Salt Lake City), Jonathan Top (FC Dallas; Fort Worth, Texas)
One player not on the list? Charles Renken. The 18-year-old midfielder is still settling in with the Portland Timbers, seeing action in reserve games and regular run in practice. But apparently he's not ready for the U-20s quite yet.
La MLS se germanise. Quelques jours après la signature d’Arne Friedrich à Chicago (il participe à son premier entraînement ce mardi), on annonce aujourd’hui que son compatriote Michael Ballack traversera l’Atlantique cet été.
Michael Becker, agent de l’ancien capitaine de l’équipe nationale allemande, a déclaré que son client « souhaitait évoluer en Major League Soccer » et a même pointé une destination de préférence : New York. Sauf que le club semble lui préférer Stephen Ireland (Aston Villa)… Des déclarations qui ne manquent pas d’animer les débats sur les réseaux sociaux.
Le milieu de terrain de Leverkusen intéresse d’autres clubs de MLS. Il y a quelques semaines, son nom revenait notamment parmi les sérieux prétendants à une place de joueur désigné à l’Impact de Montréal, qui n’est certainement pas seul sur les rangs.
Un autre Allemand fait déjà les beaux jours d’un club de MLS : Torsten Frings, à Toronto. Cependant, en sauvant ce qui ressemblait à un but tout fait ce samedi à Seattle, l’ancien joueur de la Mannschaft s’est blessé : il sera hors-circuit pour quatre à six semaines. Une absence qui risque de peser lourd en demi-finale de Ligue des champions contre Santos Laguna.
You probably read that headline and thought... I bet he's talking about the record-breaking crowd that packed Olympic Stadium on Saturday. Or maybe what it all meant to Davy Arnaud, the Impact's captain and goalscorer.
You'd be wrong.
The moment that will stick with me the longest came on Friday evening. Not a soul was in the stands. The game itself was still almost 24 hours away. Chicago were winding down their training session, meandering to the benches as a contingent of 20 or so members of the Fire's Section 8 supporters group waited by the sideline to glad hand and shoot the breeze with the guys they were there to see play the next afternoon.
Waiting with them was a seven-year-old boy from Ottawa named Ethan Stroud. Wrapped tightly around his neck was a Fire scarf, but what really stood out was the intricate Chicago crest etched into the back of his head. While Ethan was busy talking to every Fire player who came in his general vicinity, soaking up the words and attention he recieved as he collected autographs on the back of the jersey that bore his last name and the No. 12, I spent a few minutes talking to his mother, Allison Darke.
She told me Ethan, who was born in Chicago, was adopted and that life hadn't always been this easy for the gregarious young man who rarely stopped smiling in the 10 minutes I watched him make what will surely be lifelong memories. He was born blue from lack of oxygen. He is paralyzed down part of his right arm. He hasn't let it slow him down.
He loves soccer, plays every chance he gets, five times a week much of the year. He plays on three teams. According to his mom, Ethan is the "first one in the van and the first one out of the van" when it comes time to head to practice or games.
"He doesn't have an 'I-can't-do-it button,'" she says.
His parents took him back to Chicago last July for his seventh birthday, an opportunity to visit the city where he was born. They didn't have time to catch a Fire game. That would come the next day among the 70 or so Section 8 supporters tucked in the far corner of the Big O's second deck.
At that moment, though, there was nothing more important to Ethan than what was going on around him. After Logan Pause, Dominic Oduro, Dan Gargan, Frank Klopas and the rest of the Chicago players and coaching staff made him feel welcome -- an understatement to say the least -- and signed his new prized possession, he did what any kid in their right mind would do. He ripped off his jacked and pulled the Fire's colors over his shoulders.
I walked away with the feeling that the next day's events would be special, no doubt, but nothing I did or saw that weekend could measure up to the pure, unadulterated joy Ethan got out of that experience.
Those 10 minutes reminded me what life (and soccer) should be all about. Optimism. Hope. Perseverance. Humanity. Too often, it's easy to forget that.
Then a moment like that comes along, and all it takes is a seven-year-old boy having the time of his life to deliver a reminder that what you're doing is just a drop in the bucket.
Malgré un partage 1-1 contre Chicago, Montréal a réussi ses débuts à domicile en MLS. Près de 59 000 personnes ont assisté à la rencontre au Stade olympique et célébré les leurs, en dépit des deux points perdus.
Il faut souligner le rôle de Jesse Marsch dans le but d’ouverture de l’Impact : alors qu’il avait commencé le match avec Sanna Nyassi devant et Davy Arnaud sur la droite, il a décalé le premier nommé sur l’aile en cours de première mi-temps et a recentré son capitaine. En début de deuxième période, il a poussé Arnaud vers l’avant. Avec succès, puisque c’est lui qui a marqué le premier but de Montréal en MLS, sur un centre venu de la droite des pieds de Nyassi.
Explication ? « Dans cette position Davy pouvait aider à faire le jeu et passer derrière la défense. En plus, il est bon de la tête… Nyassi pouvait quant à lui exploiter les espaces que Chicago laissait sur son flanc. » Bien vu, coach !
Même si l’Impact a eu des occasions de marquer un deuxième but, le duo Grazzini – Oduro a étalé ses qualités et permis à Chicago de repartir avec un point. « Le plus important, c’est que nous avons effectué un pas important dans la bonne direction », a relativisé Marsch.
Set your DVRs for this Sunday night's edition of ESPN Deportes Sportscenter (10 p.m. ET) for a look into the Chicago Fire like you've never seen before.
Get a sneak preview of this "All-Access" feature that has Pavel Pardo as its primary subject but gives more than a few looks at the rest of the squad.
Last year, before the season started, I very cleverly predicted that LA would win the West, the Shield and the Cup. I predicted that Houston would win the East. And I came up with a few other good ones that panned out.
Unfortunately I made these predictions on Twitter, and 4000 posts later, I was no longer able to have my moment of glory. Not gonna make the same mistake this year.
Real Salt Lake
US Open Cup
Defender of the Year
Rookie of the Year
Coach of the Year
And the most important question... will another forward come out of the blue and rack up double-digit goals? Wondolowski and Dom Oduro have done so in the last two seasons. This year's version will be... Tommy "Disco" Heinemann.
Feel free to bookmark this and throw it in my face 9 months from now.
Cheers, and enjoy the soccer.
UPDATE: Saturday's games between D.C. United and the Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire and Charleston Battery have been canceled due to inclement weather. D.C. win their third straight Carolina Challenge Cup with six points from two games. Chicago finished second with three points.
The original version of the following stories claimed that D.C. United had won the Carolina Challenge Cup based on a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Fire. This was incorrect, and each story has been corrected to reflect that. Tiebreakers, in order of importance, are total points, goal differential and goals scored.
D.C. United will clinch their third stright tournament title on Saturday night if they draw or win against the Columbus Crew. In the case of a D.C. loss, the Fire will win the tournament if they defeat the Charleston Battery and are also able to make up their current defiicit in goal differential — D.C. are plus-three while Chicago are even after two matches. If the teams finish tied on goal differential and points, the title will be awarded to the side which scored the most goals over the tournament's three matches.
CORRECTION: D.C. United has not yet clinched Carolina Challenge Cup championship. I apologize for the confusion. #MLS
— Andrew Wiebe (@AndrewWiebe_MLS) March 3, 2012
Get it churnin', DaMarcus!
Would love to come back to the club that gave me my first chance! The Chicago Fire is like my family.. #fireforlife
— DaMarcus Beasley (@DaMarcusBeasley) March 2, 2012
Beasley, who turns 30 later this year, is currently a starter with Puebla in the Mexican Primera.