Fantasy Forecast: Who to start and to sit in Week 26

The end of the Labor Day holiday traditionally indicates the stretch run in the MLS regular season. With a handful of teams clawing for those final playoff spots and a possible race to the Supporters’ Shield with the Western Conference powers, it should be an interesting week in the fantasy realm.

While your compatriots shift their focus to the NFL or college football seasons, some astute maneuvering could have you holding your league’s fantasy crown by the end of the year.

Start 'em

Kasey Keller, GK, Seattle: With only four goals allowed in the past eight matches in all competitions, the Seattle back line is showing its strength. Why not take a look at the ageless Keller, who plays at home against Real Salt Lake. While the Sounders will come in rested, many of the RSL attackers could be taxed by the past week’s international duty.

Sean Franklin, D, LA Galaxy: Two goals from a defender earns Franklin an encore performance in the Forecast. The mohawked one looked completely comfortable in a midfield role in front of Frankie Hejduk. Should Bruce Arena return to that formation, more goals could be in the offing for the 26-year-old, especially against a Colorado Rapids defense that has had its troubles at times in 2011.

Danny Califf, D, Philadelphia Union: A postponement caused by Hurricane Irene gives New England and Philly two matches this week, including Wednesday’s makeup game. With the other match coming against Portland, the travel-free week could be a boon for the Union and Califf, who leads a defense that hasn’t given up more than two goals in a game all season.

Justin Mapp, M, Philadelphia Union: Mapp provided the insightful long ball that led to Sébastien Le Toux’s strike, making the Union midfielder one to watch. The 26-year-old has started the past 12 matches for the Union, during which he’s provided three assists.

Benny Feilhaber, M, New England Revolution: The midseason addition looked dangerous in his last game versus New York on Aug. 20, generating three shots and suffering five fouls. If the Revolution are to break their six-match winless streak, it may rest on the shoulders of Feilhaber, who should be spry after over two weeks off from MLS play.

Mauro Rosales, M, Seattle Sounders: “I don’t think he’s found a left back that he can’t tear apart yet.” That’s what Brad Evans says about Rosales on the Sounders FC website. With Sigi Schmid having granted his charges some time off, they may come back recharged at home against Real Salt Lake.

Thierry Henry, F, New York Red Bulls: Call me crazy, but I’ll take Henry against the Vancouver Whitecaps defense. The potential return of Luke Rodgers in the near future can only help Henry, who is just as comfortable as a provider as he is goal-scorer. With New York’s playoff position in real trouble, Henry might take it on his own shoulders this weekend.

Sit 'em

Marvell Wynne, D, Colorado Rapids: Look elsewhere for a defender this week, as Wynne faces a tough matchup against a strong LA Galaxy team.   

Ramiro Corrales, D, San Jose Earthquakes: Corrales belongs to a unit that faces a resurgent Chicago Fire team. With the ultra-fast forward pairing of Dominic Oduro and Patrick Nyarko up top and Sebastián Grazzini pulling the strings from midfield, the Quakes have a tough matchup on the road in Bridgeview.   

Juan Agudelo, F, New York Red Bulls: Expect Agudelo to be at least a bit sapped from his US national team duty, and there’s a chance Rodgers will see time against Vancouver. It doesn’t add up for Agudelo this week.

Danny Koevermans, F, Toronto FC: The Dutchman has the big Q for questionable next to his name in the injury report. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to stay away from players with hamstring injuries.

Accountability:

Normally, the Forecast would be over the moon about Kyle Beckerman’s goal and assist in RSL’s 2-1 win over Philadelphia. But his performance was overshadowed by the pair of goals from LA’s Franklin. Listed as a defender, Franklin earned a rare start in the midfield and took advantage of the freedom to get forward.

Andrew Winner writes about Fantasy Soccer for MLSsoccer.com.