With the international break, it’s a lean week in MLS. Only eight MLS teams take the field in league play this week: New York, Los Angeles, Real Salt Lake, Vancouver, New England, San Jose, Seattle, and Philadelphia.
Of those eight clubs, only Seattle plays twice. The Sounders take on the Chicago Fire in the US Open Cup Final Tuesday night before hosting the Union on the weekend in a rescheduled match.
Let’s get to the picks!
Kasey Keller, GK, Seattle Sounders: In most circumstances, the Forecast wouldn’t recommend an aging goalkeeper who is set to play his ninth match in less than a month. However, Keller is no ordinary ‘keeper. After a gaffe on a corner kick gave Guatemalan side Comunicaciones a goal in a Champions League match last week, Keller locked it down again against New England on the road. Expect him to do the same against the Union.
Todd Dunivant, D, LA Galaxy: It was good to see the Galaxy left back getting forward to trigger Nat Borchers’ own goal over the weekend. Always a threat to put in crosses from the left, the Galaxy’s ability to counterattack makes Dunivant a solid option for the occasional assist.
Nat Borchers, D, Real Salt Lake: Granted, RSL’s recent results don’t really inspire confidence in the back line. However, Borchers is a good bet for a shutout against a Vancouver team that couldn’t breach Portland’s back line over the weekend. Even at the newly-renovated BC Place, RSL might well emerge with a shutout.
Mike Magee, MF, Los Angeles Galaxy: With Landon Donovan likely out against New York, Mike Magee is a dark-horse candidate for a goal or two. He’s been sneaky good in front of the goal, scoring twice in his last start against the Vancouver Whitecaps. If you need a more value-based option, Magee might be a good pickup.
Lamar Neagle, MF, Seattle Sounders FC: Neagle (5 goals in seven starts) has quietly emerged as a goal-scoring threat for Sigi Schmid’s men. With Mauro Rosales injured, Neagle moved into the starting lineup in the next match against Vancouver. He offers a more direct option than Alvaro Fernandez on the other side of the field and tallied a hat trick against Columbus in late August. Should Rosales be held out of the Union match on the weekend, Neagle would be the likely choice to start in his place.
Luke Rodgers, F, New York Red Bulls: The 29-year-old Englishman has started the past four matches, with his minutes played increasing in each outing. Against Toronto, he played the full 90 for the first time since July 9. With Hans Backe having brought Rodgers back slowly, he is a good bet to contribute against Donovan and LA.
Thierry Henry, F, New York Red Bulls: The Forecast gets the feeling that Henry has had enough. In his MLS career, the venerable striker has seemed to use his anger as a motivating force. With the Red Bulls teetering on the brink of the playoff picture, Henry makes a good bet to duplicate his dramatic equalizer against Toronto over the weekend.
Jon Busch, GK, San Jose: Lord knows it’s not Jon Busch’s fault. But after San Jose’s abysmal concession almost directly off a kickoff against SKC, the Forecast can’t recommend Busch. The goalkeeper himself has been reliable this season. He has recorded 110 saves, good for 2nd in MLS (Stefan Frei, TFC, 111 saves). Nevertheless, even against a toothless offense like the Revolution’s the Forecast will still look in another direction.
Ryan Cochrane, D, New England: The Forecast wouldn’t touch a New England defender (or an Earthquake defender) with a ten-foot pole right now. Cochrane was culpable for Fredy Montero’s first goal over the weekend and has looked a step off the pace for much of the season. If you can, stick with LA or Seattle when configuring your back line.
Mauro Rosales, MF, Seattle Sounders: If the midfielder’s sprained MCL is indeed ready to go for Tuesday night’s Open Cup Final, the Argentine may need a rest on the weekend. With Seattle seemingly locked into the 2 or 3 seed in the West, the club will want to ensure Rosales’ availability for the playoffs.
Veljko Paunović, F, Philadelphia Union: While the Philly offense hums along, Paunović has not been a part of it. The 34-year-old Macedonian has nary a goal nor assist to his name in the past four starts and rarely goes 90 minutes. Stick with Sebastien Le Toux or even the dynamic Roger Torres if you like the Union this weekend.
Last weeks’ cover boy Sebastien Le Toux responded with a brace in the early going against D.C. United—and could have had more. As expected, Robbie Rogers provided the service for one of Columbus’ goals in the midweek fixture but did not feature on Sunday. Goalkeeper Zac MacMath and the Philly defense were stout on the road against Chivas USA, but missed out on the shutout.
Kyle Beckerman gets the Forecast’s goat horns for the week – the head butt against Chicago ruled him out of RSL’s important clash against LA. The midfield could have used a little more bite as RSL saw its Supporters Shield hopes greatly diminished in a 2-1 loss.
Andrew Winner writes about Fantasy Soccer for MLSsoccer.com.