Alright folks, this is it. After two weeks of jostling, it’s finally time to test the coterie of players that make up your MLS Fantasy team. Hopefully you’ve managed to find the right balance of established stars and precocious youngsters that will lead the way to fantasy glory and all the bragging rights your heart could desire.
The big offseason signings are no secret, but what about the unsung guys with zeros in last season’s total score column? Who are the players out there without MLS experience that can come in and be a big contributor down the line?
That’s going to be my focus with my patient today: What rookies are out there to fill out a bench? These guys can be overlooked, but their low price tag and high potential make them great fun.
Our patient’s name this week is Amanda Scully, a long-time MLS fan and first-time fantasy player.
Dear Fantasy Doctor,
I have been an MLS fan (MetroStars/NYRB) for many years now. However, this is the first time I will be playing MLS Fantasy, so please don't be too harsh if my team looks bad.
I find myself consistently picking players from the same teams. However, I feel like that is not a great strategy. So I wanted to know if there is any advantage or disadvantage to selecting players from different teams or stacking your team with players from a few top clubs?
I’m going to focus on your forwards first, cause you’re taking some risks there. Innocent Emeghara may not be available for the season opener (a shoulder injury cropped up February 15), and at his price tag you’ll want him to pay off in the early weeks.
I do, however, like the boldness of three newcomers to MLS starting up top for your team. Fernando Aristeguieta has shown quite well for the Philadelphia Union in preseason, scoring twice in his debut and once more in the Union’s victory this weekend over the Red Bulls. At a price tag of $7.5m, he’s a crafty pickup. You’ve finished off your forward troupe with Seattle Homegrown Player Victor Mansaray.
My advice in keeping with the theme you’ve got going is to dump both Emeghara and Mansaray. Instead, go with Bryan Róchez and first overall draft pick Cyle Larin at Orlando City. Getting a DP forward at $7.0m is certainly better than carrying a forward who might not play. Orlando’s 4-2-3-1 could limit minutes for Larin in the early season, but he has the talent to break out and raise his profile.
Along those lines and moving to the midfield, the Colorado Rapids' new addition, Lucas Pittinari, has tremendous upside, but at $7.0m he’s a bit much for an early-season bench. You could free up $2.0m in cold hard cash by going with another babe. How about fourth overall pick Fatai Alashe at San Jose? Again, there’s a small pricetag, which is good for the early season bench, but which has potential for some playing time as a top draft pick. With the savings, you could upgrade from Felipe to Sacha Kljestan.
On defense, I would not start Donny Toia. There’s no mincing words there: He’s a second-shift guy on a team that’s fighting a Champions League battle before the season even starts. Swap out San Jose’s Tommy Thompson from your bench for a rookie, and you should have the capital to go after some quality defenders.
Sometimes your forwards just aren’t going to score. It happens. It’s tempting to treat defenders as an afterthought, but they’re the backbone of any great team.
Hope this helps,
Your friendly MLS Fantasy Soccer Doctor
Give your diagnosis, what should Amanda do?