Fantasy Forecast: Who to start and who to sit in Week 23

Three Eastern Conference clubs dominate the Fantasy Forecast in a busy week for Major League Soccer.

New England, Houston, Kansas City, Portland, Chicago and D.C. United play twice this week. Five other MLS clubs have midweek Champions League games: Seattle, LA, FC Dallas, Colorado and Toronto.

So let’s get to the picks.

Start 'em

Jimmy Nielsen, GK, Sporting Kansas City: One of three squads with a pair of home games, SKC entertain Portland and D.C. United. A shutout against Portland is more likely, but look for SKC’s defense to hold in at least one of these matches.

Matt Besler, D, Sporting Kansas City: The capable defender plays twice this week. His long throw-ins make him an assist threat in every match, and Besler has two helpers in 21 starts. Peter Vermes’ team is formidable at home, racking up a 4-1-4 record since opening Livestrong Sporting Park.

Seth Sinovic, D, Sporting Kansas City: The former New England player has found a home in KC’s back line. For the same reasons list above, Sinovic is a good option for a potential shutout, with the added bonus of being a good value in most fantasy league formats. 

Marco Pappa, MF, Chicago Fire: Before the MLS transfer window closed, the rumor mill had connected Pappa’s name with Dutch club FC Twente. The 23-year-old Guatemalan has a chance to put up big numbers as his club entertains D.C. United and Toronto this week. Despite the Fire’s poor 2011 campaign, Pappa remains the team’s best fantasy option, posting over three shots per match.  

Dwayne De Rosario, MF, D.C. United: For the third week in a row, DeRo finds himself on the Fantasy Forecast. He’s on a tear right now, having quarterbacked the United offense to four goals against Vancouver. Five goals and two assists in the past three games — some players would love to post those numbers for the entire season. De Rosario’s talent and focus have been undeniable in recent weeks.

Chris Pontius, F, D.C. United: Two of those goals against the Whitecaps went to Pontius, who snatched Player of the Week honors away from De Rosario. The 24-year-old has been making great strides under coach Ben Olsen and has already posted a career high with seven goals. With DC playing twice this week, Pontius is a good bet to extend that record.

Dominic Oduro, F, Chicago Fire: Putting your eggs in the last-place team’s basket is a risky proposition, but I really liked the Oduro-Patrick Nyarko forward pairing last weekend. No other team in the league can match that speed, with the more goal-dangerous Oduro a better threat to score. Chicago have scored four times in the past two matches — maybe the Eastern Conference cellar dwellers can get back on track this week.

Sit 'em

Troy Perkins, GK, Portland Timbers: The Timbers have posted only five shutouts in 23 matches this season. Portland travel to Kansas City for a difficult midweek match before an unpredictable rivalry game at home against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Both matches could be high-scoring affairs, making Perkins someone to avoid this week. 

Gonzalo Segares, D, Chicago Fire: While the Forecast likes Chicago offensively, there are still some definite issues on the defensive end. The veteran Costa Rican is solid, but the inexperience along the back line doesn’t inspire confidence.

Kevin Alston, D, New England Revolution: With six goals allowed in the past two matches, the New England back line also needs some work. Even a workhorse like Alston isn’t a great option this week, despite New England’s pair of home games against Houston and the New York Red Bulls. 

Rajko Lekic, F, New England Revolution: The Danish striker attempted to play through a broken big toe on his right foot last week, but ultimately thought better of it. Lekic will be out for two to four weeks.

Accountability:

Julius James gave the Crew a big boost with a goal in a 3-1 win, while De Rosario provided two assists. Eric Hassli was held off the score sheet despite three shots, while Álvaro Saborío posted five shots against a resolute Toronto FC defense. 

Mauro Rosales was quiet for Seattle while Marvin Chávez hit the post, leading to Brek Shea’s goal in a 2-2 draw against Philadelphia.

Andrew Winner writes about Fantasy Soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS