Buy, hold sell: The final five
San Jose's Brian Ching and the MetroStars' Amado Guevara. On the other hand, many of them still have unsettled lineups, which makes them difficult fantasy picks.
Onward we go ...
How could I have gone this far and not covered the MetroStars? Probably because I was scared that whatever I wrote would be outdated by the time I hit "Send." The Metros specialize in players who are the biggest thing in MLS for about two weeks.
To give an idea of the Metros' permanent state of flux: Much-hyped Bolivian midfielder Joselito Vaca earned his share of scorn this season. When the Metros visited Chicago weekend before last, he started on the bench, then replaced Kenny Arena. Let me repeat -- Kenny Arena. In 30 minutes of play, Vaca was named MLSnet.com's Man of the Match.
If you can explain anything that happened in the preceding paragraph, please pass it along.
Guevara ($565,000), helped along by the Metros' remarkable knack for getting penalty kicks, is second in fantasy points per game (81) to Los Angeles' Carlos Ruiz (90). Eddie Gaven ($397,000) is second on the team in scoring. Vaca ($209,000) and Ricardo Clark ($228,000) aren't producing.
The defense isn't a good bet. Eddie Pope ($220,000) is always a popular pick in fantasy circles because he's a deservedly popular player, period. But Pope, like other Metros defenders, isn't an offensive threat, though at least Pope has played 1,236 minutes with no yellow cards. Worst of all, the Metros have conceded a league-worst 33 goals.
The Metros still have five forwards for two or three spaces, yet John Wolyniec ($175,000) is the only Metro to play all 18 games, and he has four game-winning goals. Fabian Taylor ($112,000) has five goals but can disrupt attacks with poor touches. Cornell Glen ($103,000) and Mike Magee ($107,000) both have moments. Sergio Galvan Rey ($108,000) is doing nothing. Someone is bound to be traded if the Metros really want Danny Szetela.
HOLD: Guevara, Gaven
SELL: All defenders
At D.C. United, Freddy Adu ($109,000) is on the rise, but there are two things to watch: Will they ever get a true target forward, and will Jaime Moreno slide back into midfield with Bobby Convey gone? If the answers are "yes" and "no," then Adu won't be on the field long enough for his long overdue scoring spree. Reverse those answers, and Adu is a great buy.
You won't get a true sense of their lineup at the moment because of injuries and absences -- their bench against Dallas consisted of backup keeper Nick Rimando, a forward who the team had traded for just that week and a defender called up from the Northern Virginia Royals, the last-place team in the third-division PSL.
Ezra Hendrickson ($184,000) is always a popular pick in fantasy circles because he's a defender who gets forward. He hasn't scored yet, but it's not for lack of trying.
The defense is solid when everyone's available. Ryan Nelsen ($216,000) is one of the best fantasy producers in the league.
Brian Carroll ($205,000) has played every minute this season, but his fantasy value isn't much.
By the way, can someone explain why Ronald Cerritos' value has risen $1,000 a day since July 22 when he's no longer in the league? Did I miss something? Are people expecting a comeback?
BUY: Adu, Moreno ($267,000), Alecko Eskandarian ($201,000), Nelsen
One thing to consider about the San Jose Earthquakes: It's not up to you to determine whether Ching ($412,000) is for real in the sense of a future U.S. national team star. You need to determine whether he can score goals for San Jose, and he obviously can.
Get past Ching and the steady numbers of Landon Donovan ($401,000), and it's hard to find get offensive picks. Richard Mulrooney ($310,000) has enough assists to prove he's more than a defensive midfielder, but Brian Mullan ($250,000), Dwayne De Rosario ($216,000) and Ronnie Ekelund ($201,000) are bit players in the scoring.
The defense has conceded 26 goals and suffered almost as many injuries. Give them a few more weeks.
BUY: Ching, Troy Dayak post-red card ($113,000)
SELL: Jeff Agoos ($396,000)
The curse of Chris Carrieri hangs over the Colorado Rapids.
Let's go backward and review the goals:
July 24: None
July 20: None
July 17: Seth Trembly ($135,000) scored a garbage-time goal in a 3-1 loss at San Jose, then put his finger to his lips to tell the crowd to shut up. That's the poise of a man who has spent more time on an MLS bench than most coaches.
July 14: None
July 10: None
July 4: The Rapids always do well before the fireworks show. This time, the game's lone goal, somehow appropriately for a day of celebrating freedom, came from ex-Cuban forward Alberto Delgado.
June 30: An offensive explosion in a 3-2 win over the MetroStars. One goal came from defender Nat Borchers. The other two came from Jordan Cila, a former youth star who went undrafted after his college career at Duke. The outburst makes Cila the third-leading scorer on the team.
Get the point? Don't buy anyone on the Rapids offense.
The defense, which has conceded only 17 goals, isn't a bad buy if you can figure out who's healthy. Borchers ($209,000) and Ritchie Kotschau ($213,000) are the top point producers, though Pablo Mastroeni ($136,000) matches them when available.
BUY: Borchers, Mastroeni when healthy
SELL: Mark Chung ($301,000)
Finally, there's the New England Revolution, in such a state of chaos that they'll soon have Adin Brown playing forward and a water cooler at defensive midfield.
And that's a killer for fantasy players. Steve Ralston ($242,000) was always good for double-digit assists, but that's a tough task from the back line.
Fantasy players will have little trouble finding the worthwhile players on the Revs' offense - Pat Noonan ($220,000), Clint Dempsey ($161,000), José Cancela ($258,000) and Taylor Twellman ($227,000). At least, that was true until Dempsey broke his jaw, causing his value to fall $188,000 in two days.
BUY: Noonan, Twellman
HOLD: Cancela, Jay Heaps ($202,000)
One reminder on Twellman: He's a daredevil in the box. Check the game reports and injury news, and stay up late on game nights to make sure you can sell high.
And after all of this analysis, that's the best advice I can give you. At this point, you should have a good idea of who's going to do what this season if given the opportunity. It's a question of keeping up with the news and getting your transactions done as quickly as possible.
So for the rest of this season, you're on your own. Enjoy.
Beau Dure covers soccer for USATODAY.com. Have questions about who to buy, hold or sell for your fantasy team? Send them to Beau at firstname.lastname@example.org and they could get answered in future columns. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.