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Well, then. Hands up if you predicted that round would play out as it did? Liar. Heck, I went one-for-three in my "Matches to Watch" section from last round, with the Philadelphia Union overcoming their woes with a win over D.C. United and the formerly offense-tastic New York Red Bulls and FC Dallas playing to a scoreless draw. At least I got the Jeff Larentowicz ($7.8m) shout bang-on; amazingly, he's still only owned by 8.4% of all managers compared to 22.5%(?!) for the underperforming and more expensive Harry Shipp ($7.9m). Let's not this miss the point of recapping all of last round's action, though - we have hit that point in the year where left is right, up is down and underdogs are suddenly vicious attackers. Ladies and gentlemen, it's... the summer swing.
Vancouver Whitecaps faithful will be all-too-familiar with the change in form and fortune that accompanies the hotter weather. The "summer slump" has claimed many a promising season and turned previously comfortable playoff fights into nail-biting, down-to-the-last-day affairs. In other markets, results vary; recently, the Montreal Impact hung a resounding 4-1 win on Real Salt Lake after winning their Voyageurs Cup semi-final tie on away goals over, signalling that the CONCACAF Champions League finalists may be about to shock a few teams before the Gold Cup break. With a not-too-difficult schedule - away to Chicago Fire, home to Vancouver Whitecaps, away to Columbus Crew, away to New York City FC - Montreal might be worth a small investment, especially considering the Vancouver-Columbus matches are in a DGW. Speaking of small investments, way back when I predicted Cyle Larin ($5.9m) would solve Orlando City SC's scoring woes. While goals in three straight games aren't a sure-fire cure-all, the fact Larin is still below the $6.0m price point, starting games and scoring goals means he'd better be on your fantasy squad as a first-sub-off-the-bench depth option. Overall, is Orlando still a mess? Yes. That said, they're one of the few teams not to be sidelined by the Gold cup break so having Larin on your bench now means one less transfer to make in Round 15.
Ah yes, transfer season - now is the time to start thinking about wildcard usage. I still plan on using mine in Round 13 to field a starting 11 of nothing but DGW players and then dive in the buckets of fantasy points like Scrooge McDuck going for a swim in his money bin. However, if you're confident you can make the most out of that round without taking too many transfer penalties, Round 15 or Round 16 are fantastic candidates owing to the horrific number of teams that won't be playing. Now, if you think you're safe enough to pass that entire block of games without incident (and I would be amazed if you are), the next best candidate for a wildcard is in Round 17. Twelve teams are on DGWs(!) including the likes of the Seattle Sounders, New York Red Bulls and D.C. United. Heck, if Montreal's form continues (you never know), they might be worth your fantasy dollars in that DGW week, too. My point is this: it's wildcard season. Be vewwy vewwy careful - you're hunting paydays, not relief from -8 penalties. Use your wildcard only if you have a solid shot to maximize your potential point haul.
Round 11 Top Score
Point hauls were not in great supply in the Eighty Six Forever fantasy league, since those shocking results ruined many a fantasy team's potential. Luckily for Ben LeFevre, his Harlem End Hooligans still remain atop the leaderboard albeit with a slim four-point advantage over Xenotheos of Pedro Needs a Ladder and an eight-point lead over Barbara Red of Paisley SC. It's still anyone's game, which always makes for an exciting competition. Also exciting? An 81-point haul, which Bryce Fidel of Fid-The-Kid posted in Round 11:
Say what you will about Kaká ($11.5m) - and goodness knows I have - when you bank 15 points in a DGW, you're earning your paycheque. It almost makes up for having zero bench depth to cover the absence of three starters. (Almost.)
Matchups To Watch
3. LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo
Omar Gonzalez ($9.7m) is out with a knee injury. Houston's attack is heating up. Bruce Arena is crankier than usual. This has all the makings of a great match for fantasy owners, especially those who have been riding the Tyler Deric ($4.9m) train to Salary Cap Savings Station. Giles Barnes ($9.3m) is almost past the point of affordability but Oscar Boniek Garcia ($8.6m) and Will Bruin ($8.1m) are certainly not. In a related note, I am still amazed 22.1% of you are holding on to Jose Villareal ($6.3m) despite his not playing any minutes of note for eight games.
2. Toronto FC vs. Portland Timbers
Remember when Toronto won their Voyageurs Cup game but lost on away goals, confusing the hell out of the BMO Field fireworks guy? That had to sting. I have no doubt the Reds will be looking to improve on that result by beating up on the visiting Portland Timbers - I mean, it would just be cruel to think TFC opens a newly renovated with yet another negative result (*snicker*). Yes, Toronto will be without Jozy Altidore ($9.9m) though it would be tough to imagine the the rest of TFC's big guns falling to pieces without him (*giggle*).
(Am I reveling in their misfortune a bit too hard? Damn right I am.)
1. Sporting Kansas City vs. New England Revolution
Yes, it's a bit of a cop-out to pick the first match of a double-game week as one to watch. No, I'm not backing down from my decision. New England have left their dumpster-fire-esque start to the season behind them and SKC's Benny Feilhaber ($9.7m) is two points behind Clint Dempsey ($11.8m) in the race for "Captain Fantasy". There will be points here and, assuming nobody gets beaten up too badly, points to follow against D.C. United for the Revs. (SKC... well, try to avoid picking up their defenders is all I'll say with regards to the weekend match against Seattle.) For the Revs, consider picking up Teal Bunbury ($7.6m), whose pricetag-versus-form is very attractive and his underlying stats, as pointed out by Josie "MLS Fantasy Doctor" Becker, make him primed to cash in against his opposition.