Fantasy Forecast: Who to start and who to sit in Week 17
What an exciting week in fantasy soccer, with two-match weeks coming for seven teams: New York, San Jose, Chivas USA, Toronto FC, Vancouver, Kansas City and Colorado. The summer months lead to fatigue, which can lead to some fantasy-friendly lopsided scores. Let’s get to the picks.
Joel Lindpere, MF, New York Red Bulls: It looks as though the presence of Dax McCarty is allowing the gifted Lindpere to join the attack more often. The Estonian spent much of the San Jose match around the opponent’s penalty area and responded with two goals, including an 85th-minute equalizer. While he did benefit from a little good fortune on both tallies, two matches on tap against defensively challenged D.C. United and Toronto FC make Lindpere a must-start.
C.J. Sapong, F, Sporting Kansas City: I’ve been going back and forth on who the best SKC attacker to recommend. I’m settling on Sapong, the rookie big man who’s started four of the past five matches for Manager Peter Vermes. With a goal and an assist on the road against Portland, Sapong can feast in the SKC’s two upcoming home games against Colorado and Chivas USA. Graham Zusi also makes a solid play for a team that has been crushing it lately (4-0-1 in their past five matches).
Brek Shea, MF, FC Dallas: Shea did it again last week, pouncing on a rebound to score in his fourth consecutive match. He’s on a heater, as they say — put your chips behind the FCD midfielder against an RSL defense missing Nat Borchers (red-card suspension).
Jackson, D, FC Dallas: For fantasy purposes, I remain bullish on FCD. Jackson has been another fantasy stud, scoring twice in the past three matches. His chip against Columbus was simply divine. If your league offers points for clean sheets, Jackson could offer a nice double-dip this weekend.
Nick LaBrocca, MF, Chivas USA: When you’re looking at players facing two-match weeks, you want to be sure that player will start both matches. Goats stalwart LaBrocca (4 goals, 3 assists) fits the bill. Chivas’ Iron Man has started all 17 matches and played every minute. Coming off a goal against Chicago last week, there’s a good chance you’ll be rewarded with a goal or an assist from LaBrocca’s midfield position.
Steven Lenhart, F, San Jose Earthquakes: Lenhart may be the most compelling player in Major League Soccer — you never know if he’s going to get a hat trick or get thrown out. Another player with two matches, the combustible striker has scored five of San Jose’s last eight goals. San Jose’s poor passing (just a 67 percent completion rate against New York) is troubling, but that doesn’t matter with the Route One approach to Lenhart.
Eric Hassli, F, Vancouver: Setting the last-place record aside for a moment, the Whitecaps have showed the ability to be a dangerous offensive team. After taking on Columbus in midweek, Vancouver get a favorable matchup against a Colorado team that has at times struggled to find a defensive identity. That Colorado-Vancouver game looks to me like it could be the week’s highest-scoring game, making a Hassli a valuable asset.
Fredy Montero, F, Seattle Sounders FC: The missed penalty against LA marks rock-bottom for the struggling striker. Expected by some to be an MVP candidate in 2011, the Sounders DP’s shot totals have plummeted in the past four matches, making a resurgence unlikely in the near term.
Luke Rodgers, F, New York Red Bulls: Rodgers is expected to be ready for New York’s Wednesday match as he recovers from a heel injury. Dynamic when healthy, wait until Rodgers can prove he’s 90-minutes fit before you plug him in. With other strong options like Juan Agudelo and Thierry Henry, Hans Backe won’t risk an injury by rushing Rodgers back too quickly.
Kenny Cooper, F, Portland Timbers: Over the weekend Portland coach John Spencer benched Cooper, who had started the team’s first 15 matches. What that means for the Timbers striker remains to be seen. With an unpredictable rivalry match coming up against Seattle, stay away from Cooper for the time being.
Dwayne De Rosario, MF/F, D.C. United: While DeRo will no doubt be motivated against his former squad during Saturday’s matchup at Red Bull Arena, I can’t see him getting on the score sheet against his old club. Playing for a D.C. United team that’s winless in its past five, there are better options out there.
Last Week’s Results
It was largely a no-brainer to pick the red-hot Shea and Real Salt Lake’s Álvaro Saborío, both of whom found the back of the net in their respective games. And the decision to sit Columbus goalkeeper William Hesmer and New York Red Bulls defender Tim Ream worked out, given that both teams gave up two goals on the road.
And as expected, the Vancouver Whitecaps went easy on Hassli in the midweek league game against Toronto, leaving fantasy owners wanting for more. Jamie Smith, another player suggested to bench last week, was also held off the scoreboard during the Colorado Rapids’ draw with Houston.
But what went wrong? Philadelphia’s Sébastien Le Toux and the Crew’s Andrés Mendoza didn’t exactly pan out, and neither did returning Gold Cup heroes Chris Wondolowski or Marco Pappa. The Fantasy Forecast missed out last week on names like Lindpere, Sapong, Darlington Nagbe or Dominic Oduro, but there was a silver lining: At least we didn’t recommend Borchers. Condolences to those who did.