Welcome to this week’s edition of the Upgrade, a new series tracking MLS players in EA SPORTS FIFA 17. Check out the previous installment here.
In this past Tuesday's edition of this column, I pointed out that EA aren’t huge fans of upgrading or downgrading players based on international performances. For the most part, this held true this week with player ratings in the game, and I don’t blame EA for not wanting to base their valuations of any given player on performances that are, uh, nebulous at times.
That being said, there were a few players who got a boost this week! Sebastian Lletget, though he unfortunately picked up an injury, got his short and long passing attributes upgraded. Romell Quioto got three points added onto his overall rating thanks to some mental attribute upgrades. But he’s injured. Alberth Elis and Jozy Altidore also each picked up a little boost. Thankfully they are not injured, and they’ll have a chance to keep their momentum going.
For everyone else who couldn’t move the needle, there’s a whole slate of matches this weekend to prove you’re next in line. So who’s got the most to prove in MLS Week Five?
Dax McCarty, Chicago Fire
Dax didn’t get any minutes during either of the USMNT’s two World Cup Qualifiers.
Ok, well that’s fine—
Bastian Schweinsteiger just arrived in Chicago.
Is there a new sheriff in Chi-town? I think that’s a question for Dax to answer. The Fire moved mountains to get him in their colors this off-season, and the defensive midfield maestro has been one of their best players through their first three games. And let’s be clear, Dax isn’t going to go to the bench, necessarily, now that Schweinsteiger is in town. What is less clear is where he’ll end up on the leadership and influence totem pole as the season goes on.
Schweinsteiger didn't come just to hang out, and he arrives on our side of th epond with perhaps as much to prove as Dax does. But if McCarty can step right back into that lineup, and help Chicago put together a string of good results, he’ll do more than reiterate just how important he is to that squad.
He’ll also put himself in serious contention to become a consistent factor in the USMNT, and most importantly, he’ll get some of those sweet, sweet FIFA upgrades. EA can’t ignore you if you’re bossing a midfield that contains a guy like Bastian.
Christian Bolaños, Vancouver Whitecaps
Costa Rica did not get what they wanted out of their last two World Cup Qualifying matches. The good news is that Christian Bolaños connected with his Whitecaps teammate Kendall Waston for the match-tying goal against Honduras which earned them their one point.
Of course, there are plenty of Vancouver fans out there asking, “Why can’t they do that for us?”
Well, that’s kinda the point here. Through three matches, the 'Caps have just one point and two goals. Something’s gotta give in Vancouver, and with the blockbuster trade of Kekuta Manneh to Columbus Crew SC, the onus falls even more on Bolaños to make it happen. Maybe the international break was what it’s going to take for Vancouver to reset and start playing up to their potential? Who knows, folks. Not me.
However, I know that if Bolaños can emerge as the Whitecaps’ primary playmaker out wide, he’s due for some attacking upgrades. His passing and mentality upgrades are prime candidates for this, if he earns it. Make no mistake, he’ll have his opportunities to earn it, too. With more minutes and a chance to form a consistent partnership with a player of Fredy Montero’s quality in sight, I wouldn’t bet against Bolaños, who has built up a lot of credit with VWFC.
Jermaine Jones, LA Galaxy
Yeah, I know. Not everyone was a fan of Jermaine Jones' outing against Panama. But he's back stateside now, and the LA Galaxy have a match this Saturday vs. Vancouver. If he’s not in their starting lineup, I will be surprised. If he doesn’t come out absolutely flying around like a madman, I’ll be totally shocked.
In this situation, Jones’ performance this upcoming weekend -- as far as it relates to FIFA -- isn’t so much about getting a ratings boost, but avoiding a downgrade. But if Jermaine can continue to suit up for the Galaxy and prove he still has plenty of gas in the tank, he’ll continue to fight the good fight. And that’s awesome because let’s face it: Jermaine Jones is a ton of fun.