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Results like this past weekend's non-effort in San Jose are why I make a point of not mentioning the Vancouver Whitecaps in my fantasy articles. I'm generally not a superstitious fan (attention hockey players: just pick up the [expletive] trophies like the grown men you claim to be) and couldn't care less about game-day traditions. That said, my track record of talking about the 'Caps and bad results occurring afterwards is happening far too much for me to be comfortable. Coincidence? Probably. Am I still going to be extra careful? You betcha. Do I have my finger on the trigger of selling Vancouver players not named Octavio Rivero ($8.9m)? Yep. Come on - do you honestly think Real Salt Lake are going to be shut out in Rio Tinto? It won't be a quiet RioT this weekend without Pedro Morales ($11.0m), though cynics will contend that since the Chilean maestro's body of work on the road isn't that impressive to begin with, it's not like a win was on the cards anyway. As much as it pains me to say it, the other Morales - that'd be RSL's Javier Morales ($11.1m) - is a better buy right now. Javier's a nearly perfect price-for-price swap with Pedro and the RSL veteran is sitting on 43 fantasy points, averaging 8.6(!) a game - second-best among all players. That's not nothing, folks. In fact, it would be the polar opposite of nothing, in that it is most definitely a heaping pile of something.
Speaking of heaping piles of something, the Philadelphia Union and New York City FC are on DGWs this round, kicking off against each other on Thursday. Neither team is exactly a fantasy bonanza; NYCFC (Nick-Fick!) doesn't have their top-scoring midfielder, Mix Diskerud ($9.1m) thanks to international duty. Philly, having just beaten NYCFC (Nick-Fick!) last game 2-1 in front of the Sons of Ben are riddled with injuries: Fabinho ($6.2m) is out with a bad heel and Cristian Maidana ($8.5m), Raymond Lee ($4.0m), Fernando Aristeguieta ($7.7m) and Maurice Edu ($7.8m) are all listed as "questionable", which is not good when looking for double-game points. Aristeguieta, if he doesn't play, is bad overall for fantasy owners as he's the Union's top points-scorer (25pts, avg. 3.0/game) at a reasonable fantasy price. All in all, this is not a DGW to get overly excited about. If you do feel like investing, your best bet is probably to grab Jason Hernandez ($6.6m) and hope Man City Jr. get a clean sheet at home against either a depleted Philly or bottom-feeding Portland Timbers.
So, if we're not going to invest heavily in the DGW teams, where should we look? Last week's results were all over the map, not the least of which was the Colorado Rapids going ham on FC Dallas to the tune of 4-0. (Those of you familiar with Killer Instinct should imagine the C-C-C-Combo Breaker! sound here.) Should we expect that kind of performance again from the Rapids against the visiting Seattle Sounders? Probably not, though considering Seattle's scoring woes (we're still waiting for someone not named Obafemi Martins ($11.3m) or Clint Dempsey ($11.3m) to score) a low-scoring draw might not be out of the question. In that vein, it's a pity Axel Sjoberg ($4.7m) is still questionable with an undisclosed "foot injury"; thankfully, Bobby Burling ($4.8m) and Michael Harrington ($5.4m) are not far off that price bracket and could be worth a depth spot on your bench. For starting picks, let's look over at the New York Red Bulls, who host the San Jose Earthquakes. I think we can all agree San Jose's performance was as bad as Vancouver's last match. If that kind of showing manifests out east, NYRB (Neer-Ub!) will have no problems dismantling them. Lloyd Sam ($8.8m) is a great shout considering his red-hot form (29pts, 7.3/game!), as is cheaper option Dax McCarty ($8.1m). Top defender Damien Perrinelle ($6.7m) is listed on the injury report as having "soreness in foot", so tread with caution - though if head coach Jesse Marsch is correct, Perrinelle should be good to go on Friday.
Round 6 Top Score
The reign of the Harlem End Hooligans atop the Eighty Six Forever leaderboard was a short one, though not for a lack of trying; Ben LeFevre's 408 points is one off tying the leader, Iain M of Guzzlers 2.0, at 409. Hot on their heels is a familiar name from last year's pool: Tony O'Donoghue and his Have A Go Heroes at 402. While their 74, 76 and 75 points respectively were good, they weren't as high as this week's best score - a score shared by two players. Both David Hostetter of HSH and Brandon Lycklamaanijeholt of 9.5FC scored 91, though Brandon breaks the tie and earns a feature here by only having made two transfers in the round to David's four. Here's Brandon's roster:
It should be noted that Mark Burch ($5.4m) was auto-subbed out in favour of Dillon Powers ($7.6m). Thanks, autosubs!
Matchups To Watch
3. Houston Dynamo vs. D.C. United
The Dynamo hung a three-spot on the CONCACAF Champions League-focused Montreal Impact, which was just the kind of confidence-booster Owen Coyle's side needed. Now, Houston heads east to face a D.C. United side that, while not the phoenix-risen-from-the-ashes side it was previously, is going to be a stiff challenge - stiffer than an Alajuelense-tenderized Montreal, at least.
2. Columbus Crew SC vs. Orlando City SC
The SC-vs-SC Cup™ (yes, I just trademarked that) offers a tantalizing prospect of an offensive duel between Columbus' Ethan Finaly ($8.1m) and Orlando's Kaka ($11.4m). Yes, I said Finlay, not Federico Higuain ($10.1m), as the latter has been a shadow of his former self to start the year. Does that change against Orlando? Maybe - and the Crew would certainly like it to - but it'll have to be a dominating performance to overcome an Orlando attack that is just now showing signs of life outside their big-name superstar. Hello, Cyle Larin ($5.6m) - so good of you to arrive!
1. New York Red Bulls vs. San Jose Earthquakes
I said it earlier in the article and it bears repeating: the Red Bulls look very good on paper to win this match thanks in no small part to the form of Sam. (Insert "best team on paper" joke from 2010-14 here.) The bona fides of Bradley Wright-Phillips ($10.9m) should not be in question by this point and I would be shocked if the reigning golden boot champ doesn't pot a goal in a winning effort.