Off the bat, a quick congratulations goes out to jarira for topping the Eighty Six Forever league in MLSSoccer.com's World Cup Bracket Challenge. A score of 365, achieved thanks in no small part to correctly predicting three of the four finalists, left jarira 25 points clear of second place and an embarrassing 235 points clear of me all the way back in 37th. Well done, jarira! Congratulations on earning World Cup bragging rights for the next four years. Use them wisely.
Back in Major League Soccer, I'm trying to come to grips with my loathing of Erick Torres ($8.8m) as a 'Caps fan and my love of Cubo as a fantasy manager. The young Chivas USA striker is second among all forwards in MLS Fantsy Manager with 106 points, a mere two back of Golden Boot leader Bradley Wright-Phillips ($8.7m). (More on BWP later.) As has been pointed out by many others, Torres is the only practical option up front for the Goats and is reaping the benefit of service from Mauro Rosales ($7.4m). This tends to mean more chances on net for Cubo compared to his peers surrounded by a more capable supporting cast, which statistically speaking means a very good chance of more goals than said peers. Here's the rub: Chivas are on a winning streak not seen since 2008. For a team as bad as the Rojiblancos have been, one can't expect this run of good form to continue indefinitely (...right?). The trick for fantasy managers will be correctly predicting when to leap off the Chivas bandwagon and turn a healthy profit off Torres, Rosales and Dan Kennedy ($4.4m).
On the other side of the United States, the New York Red Bulls have their own scoring dynamo in the afore-mentioned Bradley Wright-Phillips; the different between BWP and Cubo is that the former is being fed by no less than Thierry Henry ($10.8m), who by all accounts is running this team with a cool, calm precision befitting a team with ambitions far larger than their trophy collection. Fantasy managers have been rightly spooked by NYRB in the past but this is a team not only in form but capable of sustaining with a supporting cast of players like Lloyd Sam ($7.1m), Luis Robles ($6.2m) and a now-healthy Dax McCarty ($7.5m). At the very least, as long as Titi and BWP continue to hook up, there are good times ahead for fantasy managers. Oh, and New York have double-game weeks (DGWs) in Round 19, Round 21 and Round 27, so, there's that.
For this week's winner of best round score in the Eighty Six Forever fantasy league, I had to take a trip all the way back to 149th place. That's where I found Leung Derek's Evergrande, they of the 80-point Round 18:
Captaining Mauro "Three Assists" Rosales will certainly help your score along, as will solid days at the office for Jermain Defoe ($11.4m) and Dom Dwyer ($8.6m). Add in nine points from Pedro Morales ($8.9m) in a losing cause and nine points from Nick Rimando ($6.0m) thanks to a penalty save and you have yourself enough points to overcome less-than-stellar outings from the defensive line.
Only Seattle has a bye in Round 19, while eight(!) teams have DGWs. Here's how it all breaks down:
- I'd like to talk Golden Boot for a moment, if I may. The current leaders are BWP with 15, Dwyer with 14, Cubo with 13, Defoe with 10 and Clint Dempsey ($10.3m). As we enter the second half of the season, having as many Boot-chasing players on your roster as possible is a very good thing.
- Of course, somebody typically has to provide the ball for those talents to score. I've covered Henry and Rosales already, so let's talk about another talent that won't break the bank: the Philadelphia Union's Cristian Maidana ($7.9m). Maidana is in a four-way tie for second place on the assists chart with 8. While Philly isn't exactly a stellar fantasy team, Maidana is a standout that deserves a spot on your roster, especially as he has DGWs in Round 19 and Round 26.
- It is never a bad idea to grab a player or two from teams that are consistently performing well. Lamar Neagle ($8.1m) has 91 points. Dillon Powers ($7.8m) has 87. Yoink and double-yoink.
- Matt Doyle said it best in his description of the Columbus Crew in the latest MLSSoccer.com Power Rankings: "One win in their last 15." Not even the magnificent Federico Higuain ($10.2m) is performing for the Crew, which puts the men in yellow squarely in the "Do Not Buy" column. (Notable exception: goalkeeper Steve Clark ($5.4m) is the second-highest scoring goalkeeper in fantasy.)
- It may be tempting to look ahead to Round 20 and try to score some extra points with Montreal Impact players, as they are the only team with a DGW in the round. Resist the temptation. Troy Perkins ($5.0m) is the only player worth even considering as his 81 points puts him tied for 5th among fantasy goalkeepers. The rest are all question marks at best and liabilities at worst. That said, they're not quite ready to drop into the quarantine zone... yet.
- The Houston Dynamo remain in quarantine until further notice. Thrill-seekers may consider Brad Davis ($10.4m) if they enjoy throwing money at high-priced players on losing teams. Personally, I do not enjoy such things, but that's just me. Also, Houston is on a bye in Round 20.
And with that, I'm off to prepare for tonight's USL PDL single-match playoff between the Vancouver Whitecaps U-23 and my beloved Victoria Highlanders. It's winner-take-all at Royal Athletic Park, which means I'm going to need some more throat-protecting honey tea to assist my ninety-minute assault on the ears of the referee.