With FIFA windows and this summer's Gold Cup looming, not to mention the Canadian Championship underway, we're officially into double-game week territory. And that means roster depth and management becomes a key element of the MLS equation.
(And a huge part of making MLS Fantasy decisions. Remember those Wednesday deadlines, kids!)
For current table-topper Toronto FC, we've already seen the impact Canada international Tosaint Ricketts can have, with his late-game brace against Columbus followed by Saturday's winner in Minnesota. The Edmonton native has racked up seven MLS goals, including a pair during the Reds' run to MLS Cup 2017, since arriving last July; the strong work earned him a quick-turnaround extension heading into this season.
With Sebastian Giovinco sidelined for a month due to injury, Ricketts needs to shift gears from super-sub to starting force. We know he combines well with Jozy Altidore and Raheem Edwards, but TFC's ability to sustain their current string of unprecedented success might well depend on developing rapport with Victor Vazquez, whose passing and playmaking have helped activate the offense all season.
This season's unquestioned breakout game-breaker has been Montreal Impact forward Anthony Jackson-Hamel, who's logged four goals in just 127 minutes – including this stunning game-winner:
Now in his fourth season for Montreal after signing as a Homegrown Player in 2014, Jackson-Hamel has a chance to push for additional playing time, and it will be interesting to see if A) Mauro Biello finds situations he thinks are suited to a start and B) Jackson-Hamel can possibly keep this up. Beyond the backheel, two of his other three goals tied the game! So much clutch.
This might seem an odd pick, given Mauro Manotas has started five games and made only token appearances in four substitutions (45 minutes combined) for the Houston Dynamo. But Manotas broke out toward the end of last season, and his productivity (3 goals, 1 assist) in limited minutes has helped drive a hot start for Houston.
The biggest challenge for Wilmer Cabrera moving, uh … forward is going to be shuffling four standout players through three starting slots while maintaining productivity and confidence across the board. Good problem to have though.
Can't keep all the attention on the attack, so let's give a little love to FC Dallas mainstay Victor Ulloa, who can come in to smother any attempt at a comeback or slow things down from the start. Competition for minutes in Frisco is fierce, and Ulloa's seen his PT reduced after sports hernia surgery limited him heading into the season, but if Oscar Pareja's rotations take their typical turns, opportunity will arise.