*Reminder #1: The cut-off time to make roster changes is 15 minutes prior to the scheduled kick off of the first match of the week. This week, that deadline is 7:45 pm ET on Wednesday, August 29.
*Reminder #2: D.C. United, Philadelphia, Chivas USA, New England and all play multiple games in Fantasy Round 27.
Top Player in Round 26: Federico Higuaín (CLB) – 24 points
Key Injuries: OUT – Brad Davis (HOU), Teal Bunbury (SKC), Carlos Mendes (CLB), Sainey Nyassi (NE), Daniel Woolard (DC), Shea Salinas (SJ); QUESTIONABLE – Landon Donovan (LA), Eric Hassli (TOR), Jámison Olave (RSL)
Key Suspensions: OUT – Aurélien Collin (SKC), Darren Mattocks (VAN), Hassoun Camara (MTL)
This round is especially important for the top 8,192 scorers of Round 26. This week starts the Fantasy Cup Challenge. Check your ranking from last week to see if you qualify. If so, you’ll be randomly assigned an opponent to face off against with only the winner advancing onto the next round. The Fantasy Cup Challenge, which coincides with the regular season and playoffs, will become increasingly intense as the weeks roll on. So minimize your errors and maximize your gains.
Last round I recommended a couple of fantasy studs from the Columbus Crew – Jairo Arrieta and Federico Higuaín. After just a few matches in an MLS jersey, Higuaín has already logged the most total points in a single round this season, with 24. If you took my advice (like FC Unsuccessful Touch) and made him your captain, you notched an astonishing 48 points. This week, the same method applies. Lock into as many Columbus players as you can – they play multiple games each of the next three weeks.
WATCH: Higuain wonder blast vs. Revs
Below you’ll find some intriguing options that could potentially make for a huge points haul this round. These five guys might not be the most obvious of choices, but pick right and you could be moving onto the next round of the Fantasy Cup Challenge. As always, pay attention to this week's injury report and review the suspensions as well. Good luck!
Darlington Nagbe, $7.5m, Portland Timbers (85 points, 25th among midfielders)
After scoring three goals in two of the first four games to start the season, the Darlington Nagbe we all love to watch went missing. Well guess what? He’s back! In the last two rounds, Nagbe has looked amazing, netting three goals and 22 total points. The Timbers have only one game this round (against the Colorado Rapids at home), but hold onto Nagbe because he’ll be playing multiple games in both Round 28 and Round 29. Hopefully the signing of a new coach doesn’t affect his minutes or positioning on the field. Either way, Nagbe is an attack-minded player and a scoring threat anytime he’s on the ball.
Mauro Rosales, $9.9m, Seattle Sounders (113 points, seventh among midfielders)
Seattle are red-hot right now and Mauro Rosales is a key reason why. The Argentinian midfielder is averaging 0.76 assists per game to lead the league, and week after week he looks to feed one of the most potent attacking duos in MLS. Currently, things couldn’t be working out much better. Seattle are second in the Western Conference and have games in hand over San Jose, Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy.
WATCH: Rosales feeds Montero ... again
Meanwhile, Rosales has six or more points in eight of his last 11 games. The Sounders play only one game this week (on the road against FC Dallas), but play multiple games in two of the next four rounds after that. Next week Rosales will have even better matchups with Seattle taking on two of the bottom-feeders in MLS – Chivas USA and the Portland Timbers. With Donovan listed as “questionable” and Brad Davis listed as “out” (due to illness), Rosales is an option at midfield that's too good to pass up.
Michael Farfan, $6.7m Philadelphia Union (75 points, T-35th among midfielders)
Farfan is a wild card. He has produced just one goal and three assists in 2012, but those numbers don’t attest to his work rate and commitment in the attacking third. With multiple games this week, Farfan will have to be productive if the Union have any shot at being victorious. He’s almost guaranteed to log you 90 minutes in successive matches and his positioning as a withdrawn striker will keep him in the opponents' half the majority of the night – just as long as Philadelphia can keep possession. Don’t risk everything you have on him, but if your options are limited at midfield and you enjoy watching the Union play, grab Farfan and cheer him on.
Dwayne De Rosario, $11.2m, D.C. United (123 points, T-fifth among midfielders)
After a stellar performance in 2011, De Rosario has proven to be somewhat inconsistent in 2012. In the first half of the season he was lighting it up, but as of late he hasn’t lived up to his lofty fantasy price tag. With multiple games in two of the next three rounds, D.C. United will have to put their fate in the hands of the ageless Canadian wonder. Chris Pontius is good, but in order to keep pace and not fall out of the playoff hunt, United will need DeRo to step up and produce week after week. He has breakout potential, so if you have the money in the bank, lock him down.
Matt Reis, $5.4m, New England Revolution (101 points, T-11th among goalkeepers)
WATCH: Reis up for Save of the Week
Let’s face it – Matt Reis is having one of his most difficult seasons to date. His 1.48 GAA (goals against average) isn’t anywhere near the top, but it’s still better than Ryan Meara, Matt Pickens and Donovan Ricketts, to name a few. Any other week, I’d most likely never recommend a New England goalkeeper. However, this week they play multiple games at home against the two lowest-scoring teams in MLS – Philadelphia Union and Chivas USA. Both teams have somewhat found their form as of late, but if the Revolution can hold off at least one of these teams from scoring, Reis could be the highest-scoring 'keeper this round. With Andy Gruenebaum listed as “doubtful” this week, I’ve decided to take the risk. Will you do the same?
Honorable Mentions: Graham Zusi (SKC), Marco Pappa (CHI), Boniek García (HOU), David Beckham (LA), Juan Agudelo (CHV)
Most added transfer this week: Federico Higuaín
Most dropped transfer this week: Darren Mattocks