03 May 1:11 pm

Last month, I wrote about how defenders are the most consistent scorers in Fantasy Soccer: Manager. Even though they’ll score points for you more regularly (on average) than others, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the most influential in your team's success. The table below shows the number of point leaders by position, with only the highest scoring player from each MLS team being selected. The table does not include stats from Wednesday night's games.

Point leaders by position (limit one player per team)

Goalkeepers – 6

Defenders – 4

Midfielders – 4

Forwards – 6

*New England credited with both a GK and a defender as point leaders due to a tie

As you can see from the table above, 71 players have scored 30 points or more so far this season – but only 25 players have scored 40 points or more. Also to note, Chicago are the only team without a 30-plus point-scorer and there are still 10 teams without a 40-plus point-scorer as well.

Stacking up on players from certain teams may seem like the best option. Sporting KC get shutouts and they score as well, so pick your poison. D.C. United are great at scoring, so load up on their midfielders and forwards. And Vancouver get clean sheets, so stock up on their defenders.

Now, if we take a point leader from every team can we still manage to keep it under the salary cap? And if so, how successful can they be? Let’s try.

GK – Matt Pickens - $6.0m

D – Lee Young-Pyo - $6.8m

D – Aurelien Collin - $7.5m

D – A.J. Soares - $6.5m

M – Landon Donovan - $10.4m

M – Nick DeLeon - $6.7m

M – Kyle Beckerman - $8.5m

M – Gabriel Gómez - $7.5m

F – Thierry Henry - $10.8m

F – Chris Wondolowski $11.7m

F – Blas Pérez $9.6m

Total Money Spent – $92.0m

Total Points Accumulated – 533

Now, this is a dream team! Sure $8M doesn't leave you enough for subs, but tweak your lineup slightly and you can make it work. And with 533 points, not only will you most likely be first place in your league, you’d be tied for seventh in the nation in total points as well.

It just goes to show that no matter what you decide to do – stack up on players from a few teams or spread it out around league – there’s more than just one way to be successful in Fantasy Soccer: Manager.

Tweet your fantasy soccer questions to @Ben_Jata

10 April 5:59 pm

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

22 March 7:09 pm

Two weeks into the season in MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager, and it looks like the newbie, Andrew Wiebe, is the man to beat right now in the ExtraTime Radio Experts League.*

"It's a combination of research and luck," Wiebe told this week. "Sometimes your research pays off. Sometimes your luck gives you the extra push you need. Without both, well, you're Allen Hopkins."

Obviously showing no sympathy for the low man on the totem pole, Wiebe has turned success in the ETREL into some new publicity: He appears on the latest editon of the ExtraTime Radio podcast

But he is being chased by that crafty Canadian, Luke Wileman, whose team, Great White North, is just three points behind. Can Wiebe hold off the competition  in Week 3, when his Bed-Stuy Brawlers face off against the Elusive Playmakers, a.k.a. Kyle McCarthy of

"I definitely can," Wiebe said. "He's got some weak spots on his roster. I think I've got a 15-point win in me."

Bad Idea Jeans = Marc Connolly, ESPN
BadRowePun = Dan Haiek,
Bed-Stuy Brawlers = Andrew Wiebe,
FC Curse of Caricola = Grant Wahl, Sports Illustrated
Elusive Playmakers = Kyle McCarthy,
FC Empty Bucket = Jonah Freedman,
Etienne Barbara FC = Simon Borg,
The False DM = Jen Chang,
Fort Nonsense SC = Jonathan Yardley, FC Dallas TV
Great White North = Luke Wileman, TSN
Ill Eagles = Matt Gaschk,
kingDOMEtt = Taylor Twellman, ESPN
Land of Confusion = Jason Saghini,
Leanderthal Albion = Leander Shaerlaeckens,
MLS Reggae Boyz = Mark Rogondino, Fox Soccer
Otis Redding United = Greg Lalas,
Rainbow in the Dark = Max Bretos, ESPN
SBI United = Ives Galarcep,
Slurpee Ratt = Alexi Lalas, ESPN
Witham's Whippers = Katie Witham, freelancer
Ya Mo Be There = Allen Hopkins, Fox Sports

* "Experts" is used loosely here. Kind of like Kim Kardashian's use of the word "marriage." 

14 March 4:33 pm

Aimer le soccer ne se limite pas à aller au stade une fois toutes les deux semaines et à suivre passivement les nouvelles de son équipe préférée. La Major League Soccer est particulièrement active, ou plutôt interactive avec les supporters. Alors voilà quelques manières simples d’en être, vous aussi, des acteurs :

De quoi vous occuper entre deux rencontres, n’est-ce pas ? Et même au match, soyez actifs. Comme le disent les UM02, supporters de Montréal, l’ambiance est faite par tous les supporters présents au stade. Et ce qui vaut à Montréal vaut évidemment partout ailleurs. On en a d'ailleurs eu un magnifique exemple à Portland ce lundi.

06 March 5:21 pm

A confession: I'm not a fantasy freak.

I don't spend days analyzing the various formations and figuring out the optimum financially efficient roster. I don't partake in a great deal of trash talk with the other people in my league.

About the only thing I obsess about is which music idol I should name my club after.

But despite all of that, I play. I play against my colleagues and friends. I tend to lose, but I appreciate the competition and the comradery.

This year's new salary-cap game, MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager, is not easy. But it is a very good approximation of what it's like to be a real MLS manager.

The salary cap ($100 million) is tight, and building a well-balanced squad, with a mix of high-scoring stars and cost-efficient role players, can be a struggle. At times, I cursed the person who set the prices.

The upshot is that as I set my roster, I started making some intriguing decisions on where I was willing to sacrifice quality for quantity. If I went for a cheap 4th defender so I could add a more expensive striker, what happens if there's an injury on the backline? If I ditched the big-money third striker, does that let me have a better attacking midfielder?

Ultimately, you've got to decide. Just like a real MLS manager does. And then you play. 

So without further ado, here's the roster of my beloved Otis Redding United. I promise you, we will not try any tenderness in the 2nd Annual ExtraTime Radio Experts League.