Fantasy: Let's not get carried away

That rustling sound you hear is thousands of MLS Fantasy Challenge managers falling over themselves to buy Houston Dynamo forward Brian Ching. After all, the "Hawaiian Superman" is on pace to score 128 goals this season.

And his teammate Dwayne De Rosario? He's in line to notch 128 assists.

We're not saying Ching won't pile up the goals this season and De Ro won't pick up a boatload of assists, but let's all make sure we stay connected with reality. Dynamo's dynamic duo won't be going up against the Colorado Rapids every week of the season. The lesson, as any MLS coach or player will tell you, is it's all about the next game, not the last one.

So while you're busy dropping Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan for his former San Jose Earthquakes teammate Ching, keep in mind Ching's next opponent is the normally stout Kansas City Wizards, while Donovan goes up against the leakier Chicago Fire rearguard. Of course, if you didn't bother to add Donovan just yet due to his imminent departure for the World Cup and bought Ching instead because he probably won't make the trip to Germany, well, then you're one step ahead. Good work.

With that, let's take a look back at Week 1's top Western Conference performers and a look at what you can expect in the weeks ahead.

Chivas USA

Ante Razov was the man on the scoreboard this weekend for the Red-and-White, and despite the fact that he was up against a subpar defense in RSL, Razov looks like a good bet to be a steady fantasy performer this season.

Francisco Palencia didn't get onto the scoresheet, but he's every bit as responsible for Chivas USA's win as Razov. It won't be long before he starts putting up some points. Juan Pablo Garcia is another man who should benefit from Chivas USA's midfield-forward interplay, and don't count out Francisco Mendoza.

The next two weeks will be good indicators of Chivas USA's scoring ability, with D.C. United and the Los Angeles Galaxy on tap. If the "Goats" can produce against two of the top teams in the league, you can count on them to do so for most of the season.

Colorado Rapids

Losing Clint Mathis and Dedi Ben-Dayan early in Saturday's match against Houston Dynamo certainly did not help the Rapids' attack, but Kyle Beckerman's long-range goal was a nice surprise and Jovan Kirovski did exactly what the Rapids hoped he would do when they traded for him last fall.

Of course, it would be pretty silly to think Beckerman will keep pounding in the goals, but expecting production out of Kirovski is perfectly fair, especially with matches against the soft defenses of the Columbus Crew and FC Dallas coming. If Mathis is out for a long period of time, it might also be worth taking out a flyer on Haiti native Fabrice Noel, who guided the Rapids' attack in Mathis' absence.

As for the Rapids defense, we don't see them giving up five a goals every week, but we also don't expect the situation to get a whole lot better (watch out for that FC Dallas match). Therefore, while Joe Cannon is a great 'keeper, it might be a good idea to steer away from anybody associated with the Rapids rearguard.

FC Dallas

It's no secret that Carlos Ruiz will produce goals for the Hoops and Ronnie O'Brien will provide assists. What might be a bit unexpected is the skill Roberto Mina has shown. The way the Ecuadorian international has linked up with Ruiz makes us thing something special could happen in Dallas this year. This weekend, they could have a field day at home against RSL.

Another player to keep an eye on is Kenny Cooper. A physical presence, Cooper could help out FC Dallas' aerial game this season, and at just 80,000 MLS dollars, it's worth taking a chance to see if he'll have a significant fantasy impact.

As for the Hoops' defense, though, we're not convinced they've solved the issues that plagued them last season.

Houston Dynamo

As we said earlier, there's no way Ching and De Rosario can keep up the production of their season opener. That said, it's not like they're going to drop off the map, either.

Both are good pickups, but Ching, being the less expensive of the two for the moment, is probably a better choice thanks to the potential for financial growth he offers. If you don't have De Ro on your roster already, it might not make a whole lot of sense to pick up him right now, as his value is almost guaranteed to be unnecessarily high.

A slightly cheaper option for Dynamo fans at forward is Alejandro Moreno. Remember, he was second on the San Jose Earthquakes in goals scored last season, and he's got plenty of playmakers around to serve him the ball.

Los Angeles Galaxy

Saturday's season opener didn't look very promising, from a fantasy perspective, for the Green-and-Gold. But, to be fair, it was against a very solid New England Revolution defense.

The next few weeks will be much kinder to the Galaxy, as they face the Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake before the month is out. Stick with the Galaxy's attacking players; they should be just fine.

The one positive note comes from the Galaxy defense, who - despite missing regular left back Todd Dunivant - did well to turn back the Revolution for most of the match.

Real Salt Lake

It's hard to pull positives out of RSL's lackluster performance against Chivas USA on Sunday. It seems that the club's back line is one to avoid; they could be in real trouble with good attacking sides like FC Dallas, the New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo on the schedule for the next few weeks.

On the attacking side, RSL's best options - Mehdi Ballouchy, Jeff Cunningham, Chris Klein and Andy Williams - couldn't do much of anything this weekend. While you shouldn't hit the panic button just yet, you might not want to put all of your fantasy eggs in RSL's basket.

The MLS Fantasy Expert covers the MLS Fantasy Challenge every other week throughout the season. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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