some players have performed as expected, some have been surprisingly disappointing and some of have been just plain surprising.
It's safe to say that picking Alecko Eskandarian (D.C. United) has not turned out to be a great tidbit of advice so far. However, you were all warned that he might not have been worth the initial asking price. It's unlikely that the 2004 MLS Cup MVP will go the entire season without finding the back of the net. He appears to be set to return from injury in the near future and is almost cheaper than dirt at $105,000. If you need a change and are low on cash, he still might help you out.
The Kansas City duo of Davy Arnaud and Josh Wolff were recommended, as was New England's Pat Noonan. Fair warning was also given about the possibility that the latter two would miss time through international duty, as they are doing right now for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. That triumvirate has three, four and eight goals, respectively. Not great from the Wiz-twins but pretty impressive for Noonan, who is tied for the league lead.
A few outsiders that were listed as possible surprises were Santino Quaranta and Chad Barrett. Quaranta has become a starter in recent weeks and even was called up to the U.S. national team. Two goals and two assists isn't great, but he has only played in 10 games and probably could have a few more goals to his name. The Fire's Chad Barrett was also named as a dark horse. While he hasn't made much of an impact in his rookie season, the suggestion wasn't far off. It isn't Barrett, but rather teammate and rookie compatriot Chris Rolfe that has come flying out of the gates, scoring four goals and adding two assists.
One of the most important aspects of your fantasy team is having a good assist man, which usually comes out of the midfield. It was also pointed out that having a player who takes penalty kicks for your team or who is able to find the net from the run of play from time to time can help you pack on the points.
Way back in March, Ross Paule (Columbus) seemed just about ready to return from a series of concussions. Instead it was announced that he is out for the year and probably won't ever return to the playing field. Back luck for him, bad luck for anybody who followed my suggestion of signing him.
Mark Lisi has also not turned out to be the creator he was in seasons past. His MetroStars are inching their way up the Eastern Conference table, but the Colorado native has only registered two helpers on 26 MetroStars goals. However, his teammate Amado Guevara has picked up right where he left off last season when he won the league's MVP award. He has six assists so far and six goals, several of which have come from the penalty spot.
Also bitten by the injury bug are three MLS newcomers that were touted at the beginning of the campaign. John Thorrington (Chicago), Steve Guppy (D.C. United) and Youri Djorkaeff (MetroStars). Midway through the season, they have combined for just 16 appearances, 10 of which came from Djorkaeff. It is unclear when Thorrington could be back in action, Guppy is close to returning and Djorkaeff hasn't played the last two weeks. Thorrington and Guppy have thus far been a bust, while Djorkaeff has been effective when healthy.
Picking a quality defender is all about being efficient, as was pointed out in this space before the season started. With that fact in mind, our advice for backs was pretty solid. Kansas City's Nick Garcia is still $30,000 cheaper than Jimmy Conrad and Conrad won't be picking up any points while with the U.S. national team at the Gold Cup.
Other players pointed out as potential point-winners were Mike Petke (originally was D.C. United, now with Colorado) and Chad Marshall. Petke has been playing a lot for Colorado and Marshall hasn't let his form dip from a great rookie campaign, but both of their teams are struggling to repel their opponents' attacks.
Before the season started we said that the most important thing about goalkeepers (as they pertain to the MLS Fantasy Challenge) is having one that actually plays. Jon Busch (Columbus) was labeled a "safe bet" at the time, but that went out the window when he suffered a torn ACL early in the season. Matt Reis (New England) received the same recommendation and he has lived up to the billing, helping the Revolution to the top spot in the East and himself to an All-Star Game starting job.
Zach Wells (MetroStars) was named as a dark horse and his usually reliable play has left him as the starter in New Jersey, though the arrival of Tony Meola may see that change.
Nick Rimando (D.C. United) was listed as "a dangerous pick" and we were right about that. The United back line has struggled and the reigning MLS Cup champions find themselves in fifth place in the East at the season's midpoint.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. He will cover the fantasy leagues, along with Jason Halpin, every other week throughout the season. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.