Fourth annual MLS Fantasy Challenge kicks off

NEW YORK - Registration for the "2005 MLS Fantasy Challenge," the Official Fantasy Game of Major League Soccer (powered by The Sporting News), begins Monday. MLSFC 2005 can be reached by clicking on the "Fantasy" tab at The 30-week competition begins in conjunction with the April 2 kickoff of Major League Soccer's 10th season, which this year will feature all 12 teams in action on opening day beginning with defending MLS Cup Champion D.C. United battling Club Deportivo Chivas USA live from The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., on ABC Sports at 3 p.m. ET.

Fans who register for the free fantasy contest via have the opportunity to win more than 400 MLS prizes, including all-expense paid trips for two to the 2005 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game on July 30 in Columbus and MLS Cup 2005 on Nov. 13 at the destination point for soccer in Texas, the Frisco Sports and Entertainment Center. Prizes include the chance to distribute t-shirts on the field to the Cup-winning team, autographed All-Star jerseys, official autographed MLS memorabilia, and several other exclusive MLS items.

"MLS is excited to partner with The Sporting News again to offer an even more polished, competitive and exciting fantasy game to our fans," said MLS Vice President of Marketing Stu Crystal. "With great mid-season and end of the season grand prizes, we are giving the avid fantasy gamer another great way to connect with our League, teams and players."

Major League Soccer's Fantasy Challenge is a free weekly online fantasy game that allows soccer fans the opportunity to manage their own soccer team using real-life statistical results. Using a salary budget of 2,000,000 MLS dollars, team owners select 11-player squads, and can follow their team's weekly progress throughout the season. The better players perform on the MLS playing field, the more fantasy points they earn for their team.

"The Sporting News is pleased to once again power Major League Soccer's Official Fantasy Soccer Game," said Erik Barmack, GM of Fantasy Games for "Through this game, fans have a great opportunity to stimulate and supplement their interest in MLS players and teams and to prove their savvy as a Major League Soccer general manager."

As the owner, general manager, and coach of their very own MLS fantasy team, fans have the opportunity to put their favorite players on the same side. The 2005 MLS Fantasy Challenge rewards goal scorers and defenders alike, making a balanced team a necessity to win. Fantasy owners must examine team vs. team matchups to pick their starting 11 each week, while taking into consideration player trends, salary budget, the potential of budding young International stars, National Team duty, injuries and unproductive performers, all with the goal of producing a championship team. With player values changing daily, and limited trades, managers will need to monitor MLS games regularly in order to stay sharp.

While prizes are based on overall individual standings, fans can create their own divisions with the opportunity to compete against family, friends, co-workers as well as MLS fans across the globe. Each week's winners and their teams will be profiled and the manager will have a chance to share their knowledge and expertise with other MLS Fantasy Challenge participants.

Fantasy teams with the highest overall point total at the conclusion of the 2005 MLS regular season (October 16, 2005) will be eligible to win the Grand Prize, which includes a trip for two to MLS Cup 2005 on Sunday, November 13. The winner of this trip for two will be the lucky fan to distribute MLS Cup T-shirts and hats to the champions on the field after the game. In addition to the two larger prizes, MLS is offering a prize each week to the manager who amasses the most points for that week.

The MLS Fantasy Challenge is supplemented by's gameday coverage, including live data feeds from each stadium powered by Elias Sports Bureau, and up-to-the-minute information, including results, schedules, standings, game recaps, quote sheets, statistics, player biography pages, predictions, capsules and analysis.

Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.