MLS Fantasy: Eastern Conference team-by-team breakdown

Thierry Henry, New York Red Bulls

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Yesterday we took an in depth look at the players you should own from each team in the Western Conference, so today we’re breaking down the East.

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Chicago Fire

Austin Berry ($5.5m) came on for an injured Cory Gibbs early last season and never looked back. He led all players in CBIs (clearances, blocks and interceptions) with 344 and closed an impressive season with a Rookie of the Year Award to show for it. Chris Rolfe ($8.0m) was the player to own last season, but after being moved from forward to midfield (with a higher price tag), I’m more inclined to grab MacDonald ($7.0m). He could be subbed on a regular basis in the second half, but he’s in line to get some great distribution from veterans Joel Lindpere ($8.0m) and Jeff Larentowicz ($7.0m)

Columbus Crew

Higuaín ($9.0m) or Arrieta ($8.0m)? You don’t want to invest too much in Columbus by adding them both, so try not to overthink it – they’re both going to be productive (14 goals, 11 assists combined since they arrived midway through 2012). Oduro ($6.5m) is an intriguing option, as he’ll likely be used to fill a void at right midfield – see what the Armchair Analyst thinks about that. Wahl ($4.5m) is the new Josh Williams ($5.0m) this season, likely occupying a starting fullback position for a reduced price.

DC United

If De Rosario ($9.5m) and Pontius ($8.5m) can prove that they are fully recovered and match fit, then both are solid options at midfield for D.C. United. They’ve also brought in forwards Ruiz ($8.0m) and Rafael ($8.0m) after letting go of Maicon Santos and Hamdi Salihi. Woolard ($4.5m) is great pickup as long as he stays healthy. He’s been starting and playing well in preseason, so I suspect he’ll be on the field in Week 1.

Houston Dynamo

Davis ($9.0m) rocked the captain's armband for me several times last season and rarely let me down. He’s one of the most consistent players in the game and you’ll want to own midfielders who control set-pieces. García is a phenomenal player, but I’m a little hesitant to snatch him up at $8.5m. Plus, he’ll likely be missing some time with national team duties. Hall ($6.0m) is worth his asking price, but goalkeeping is a position I tend to be a little more conservative with. All in all, the Houston Dynamo are loaded with top-notch talent. Try to avoid stocking up early on because they have a bye in Week 2.

Montreal Impact

I’m a huge fan of Felipe ($9.0m), but last season Bernier led Montreal in points, scored six penalties (although Marco Di Vaio might take over) and is $1.0m less. Plus, he stopped by the office the other day with a few MLS players and seems like he’s ready to go. The Impact have a few weapons, so it looks as if the health of their defensive unit will be the main area of concern – Nesta talks about retirement (3:20 mark). Perkins ($5.0m) quietly ended last season as the sixth best goalkeeper and his preseason play has drawn praise as well.

New England Revolution

Fagundez ($6.5m) continues to improve, but has he impressed Jay Heaps enough to lock down regular minutes. If he does, he’ll be one of the least expensive forwards’ in the game to do so. Farrell ($5.0m) has also impressed this preseason, but can he play right back. Nguyen ($8.5m) is a dangerous player, but with all of the options at midfield, none in particular blow me away. Hold off for now until, especially since the Revolution have a bye in Week 1.

New York Red Bulls

Henry ($10.5m) justified his asking price last season, notching five more assists than the next closest player at his position, but with the departure of Kenny Cooper and the arrival of Juninho ($8.0m), some are concerned that Henry will be less productive – I’m not.  Juninho has tremendous potential and will likely take over all set-piece duties entirely, but only time will if he can withstand the physicality of MLS at his age. Defense is still a concern, but Kimura ($4.5m) is worth a look as long as he starts.

Philadelphia Union

Parke ($5.0) was recently acquired after a successful season with the Seattle Sounders. Can he and Bakary Soumaré coexist with the departure of MLS All Star, Carlos Valdés? The Union will need to be much better as a whole defensively if you want to see clean sheets though. Offensively, they’ve brought in Casey ($8.0m) and Le Toux ($8.0), who will hope to rebound after struggling to find the net in 2012. McInerney ($8.0m) is the most promising prospect on this team, although he could see limited minutes due to the Union’s depth at forward.

Sporting KC

Matt Besler ($6.0m) won 2012 MLS Defender of Year honors, but Aurélien Collin ($6.0m) was in the running as well. Both ended the 2012 season with 179 points in FS:M, making them the highest-scoring defenders in the game. Their point totals were so good that it put them in a tie for sixth-best among all players. Jimmy Nielsen ($6.0m) might not rack up a league-leading 16 clean sheets again, but he might get close. Sporting KC writer Kurt Austin shares his thoughts on who you should own.

Toronto FC

With Torsten Frings officially announcing his retirement today after 18 seasons, Toronto FC will have some options going forward. They made some moves this offseason, but their defense still has serious question marks. Eckersley ($5.0m) could’ve performed better, but without clean sheets a defender is practically dead weight – unless of course he can offer something offensively. With Danny Koevermans expected out until June (if he’s not gone before that), expect sophomore standout Silva ($7.5m) and possibly Welshman ($5.5m) to lead the attack.