With the Gold Cup finally over, MLS rosters will be back to full strength. With every team playing just once this week, Week 15 offers an opportunity to separate yourself from the competition with some solid decisions.
Chris Wondolowski, F, San Jose Earthquakes: Wondolowski already has six goals in MLS play and should return refreshed from his Gold Cup experience, where he played sparingly. With the Earthquakes playing seven matches in the next month, Wondo will be a solid play for the next four weeks.
Brek Shea, MF, FC Dallas: Shea has scored three goals in as many matches and four in the past six. Keeping the roving midfielder in your lineup is a no-brainer, especially with FCD’s confidence soaring after a 4-0 shellacking of Portland. Make no mistake: Shea is the most goal-dangerous midfielder in the league right now.
Álvaro Saborío, F, Real Salt Lake: I have a suspicion that RSL’s July 4 home date with the Revolution could get out of hand. The Revs are reeling right now, winless in their last seven, and face a long flight to play in the altitude of Sandy, Utah. They face an RSL team that looks ready to break through after enduring the Gold Cup with a converted midfielder (Jean Alexandre) as the team’s best striker. With Saborío netting twice last week, it appears RSL's Champions League hangover has ended. Start Sabo with confidence.
Andrés Mendoza, F, Columbus Crew: Mendoza keeps playing like he’s got something to prove. I wouldn’t fault you for running with him as long as his current hot streak (six goals in his last six matches) lasts. However, he does face a tough matchup against Kevin Hartman and the stable FCD back line.
Marco Pappa, MF, Chicago Fire: Pappa’s a riskier play, I concede, but the Guatemalan completely changes the Fire’s attack. Even though his club has found the net only three times in the past six games, the dynamic Pappa always has a place in my starting lineup, especially against a mediocre Chivas USA defense (seven goals allowed in the past three matches).
Mauro Rosales, F, Seattle Sounders FC: A strong rivalry has been building between the Sounders and their July 4th rival, the LA Galaxy. I expect Rosales to respond well to the week of rest and come out strong against the Galaxy, who beat Seattle 1-0 in the first week of the season. Seattle recently avenged an early-season loss to New York and will be motivated to do the same against Bruce Arena’s team. Rosales also matches up well with Omar Gonzalez, who had trouble against FC Dallas’ David Ferreira in the 2010 playoffs.
Sébastien Le Toux, F, Philadelphia: This has to be the week Le Toux gets it going, right? The Union draw defensively-challenged D.C. United this week, and with newcomer Veljko Paunović proving to be a worthy addition, the Union’s attack has been potent lately. Even as a wide midfielder, Le Toux’s work rate could find him on the converting end of an easy one. Any of the Philly attackers make excellent choices this week.
Eric Hassli, F, Vancouver & Maicon Santos, F, Toronto FC: The real prize for these struggling MLS sides could be the Nutrilite Canadian Championship on Saturday. With a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League at stake, is it likely to assume both sides might save their big guns for the weekend and go light on them for Wednesday's league clash? I would play it safe and look elsewhere for your points this week, and go back to these two next time.
Will Hesmer, GK, Columbus: Nothing against Hesmer, who remains on the of the league’s finer goalkeepers, but I wouldn’t want to be facing high-scoring FC Dallas coming off a four-goal outing vs. Portland. If you have a capable backup with a better matchup, I’d go that route.
Tim Ream, D, New York Red Bulls: Honestly, I’d stay away from all New York defenders until Hans Backe gets the goalkeeping situation sorted out. The Red Bulls have been taking far too many soft goals recently.
Jamie Smith, MF, Colorado Rapids: Like San Jose, Colorado embark on a seven-match July campaign. While I love the Rapids' scoring potential with Omar Cummings back, the combination of Smith’s balky hamstring and Conor Casey’s suspension make Smith a risky play this week. I’m staying away.