The salary cap in MLS limits team spending, and MLS Fantasy managers will face the same limitations as the men on the sidelines in 2014.
Building an 18-man roster with $120 million won't be easy, but there are still plenty of methods to the madness. You'll just have to massage your budget, and we're here to show you how.
Do you favor solid defending, creative midfielders or proven goalscorers? With prices for defenders now equivalent to that of midfielders and forwards you'll have to search far and wide for those diamonds in the rough.
To give you a head start on building your team, I've built a team that allows you to see the ins and outs of the process before you do so yourself. Like most, I'll be tweaking my squad several times between now and March 8, but this is one way you can stretch your $120 million budget to the max.
Matt Lampson – Projected to be one of the few starting goalkeepers you can snag for under $5.0m. However, if teammate Steve Clark wins the job, you'll have drop an extra $0.5m to lock down the starting GK in Columbus.
Eric Kronberg – Expected to get his chance in goal for the defending MLS Cup Champions – the guy's been waiting eight years, after all – and he's got the best defense in the league in front of him. Sold!
Kofi Sarkodie – The price is right for an outside back who likes to get forward. Starting defenders are expensive, so you'll have to buy low here if you want to stretch that budget.
Bradley Orr – Hearing that he'll likely be penciled in as the starting right back when the season kicks off. Toronto struggled in 2013, but look for this to change after an offseason full of intriguing acquisitions.
Carlos Borja – Has two decent home matches to start the season and is on the low end for defenders at $5.0m. If new addition Andrew Jean-Baptiste and veteran Carlos Bocanegra pair up at center back, Borja could move to defensive mid or outside back. If he doesn't, Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), the No. 2 pick in this year's MLS SuperDraft, is a sleeper option also worth considering.
David Horst – Looks like he could challenge Eric Brunner for the starting spot at center back, and at $5.5m, that's pretty good value. Plus, Houston opens the 2014 season with back-to-back home games.
Steven Kinney – Solid player plagued by injuries the past few years, but with the departure of Jalil Anibaba, someone needs to step up. (Frank Yallop: “Steven Kinney is a right full back and he’s coming into camp fully healthy and ready to go. If [injuries aren't an issue], we’ve got a good player that’s ready to go.”)
Wil Trapp – Young central midfielder with a promising future. A new coach in Gregg Berhalter could be just what he needs to take his game to the next level. I'm envisioning some second-assists here as well.
Jonathon Osorio – Canadians love this guy and you should too. With Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe by his side itching at the opportunity to turn the tables on Toronto FC's past, Osorio could be in for a breakout campaign.
Javier Morales – Possibly the purest playmaker in the league. It's nice to have a maestro running your midfield and Morales has proven to be that guy time and time again.
Brendan King – He started the first preseason game for Chicago. Is this a sign of what's to come? Maybe. Either way, he's only $4.0m.
Eric Stevenson – Likely won't see any time in his rookie campaign, but the cap hit is minimal and you'll need players like this in order to spend big elsewhere.
Kekuta Manneh – Tons of speed and one of a handful of players to record a hat trick in 2013. With Camilo Sanvezzo gone, Manneh has the opportunity to start.
Federico Higuain – This is the type of player you build your team around. He's a boss, a set-piece specialist and stands over the Crew's penalty kicks. He'll be a goalscoring and/or assist machine again in 2014.
Eddie Johnson – Attitude aside, I'm expecting good things from EJ under head coach Ben Olsen. The Golden Boot is calling his name. Will he answer the call?
Jairo Arrieta – Scored a goal for the Crew in their first preseason game on Wednesday, and it will be tough finding a better option up top for less than $7.0m.