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It would appear FC Dallas is this year's "Murphy's Law" team for my fantasy squad. I drop Fabian Castillo ($10.2m), he goes ham and can't stop raking in the points week after week - prime example, a disgusting 14(!) points (1G, 2A) from the Hoops' demolition of the Houston Dynamo. (Incidentally, that's back-to-back four-goal concessions by the Dynamo. Now might not be the best time to invest in any orange-clad defenders.) Heck, even the players around Castillo are benefiting from the Colombian's rampage, most notably the latest FC Dallas player to be dropped from my roster - Ryan Hollingshead ($5.5m). Swapping him out for a DGW (double-game week) player, I missed out on an 8-point weekend for the midfielder which pushed Hollingshead into second place for total fantasy points among all FC Dallas midfielders. A Castillo-Hollingshead midfield on your fantasy team is not a horrible idea by any metric, especially when you consider that FC Dallas is one of the few teams to escape the Round 15 bye-xstravaganza unscathed.
Getting back to this round, it's all about those DGW teams: Houston, the LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake and the San Jose Earthquakes. The temptation right off the bat is to ignore any Houston defenders (see above); however, Houston's Tuesday night game is at home to the San Jose Earthquakes in what is being billed as a Dom Kinnear homecoming of sorts. It's tough to say who that'll be more motivating for: a San Jose side hurting for offense and, considering their injury list, generally just plain hurting; or a Houston side that would love a dominating win to harken back to the "impregnable fortress" days of their home matches. With all that in mind, I still have my doubts about Houston and, for that matter, San Jose. Try not to load up on either team outside of the usual suspects like Chris Wondolowski ($10.8m) and Brad Davis ($9.8m).
On the other side of the docket we have RSL and the Galaxy. In the past, these two teams would guarantee you a gritty, grueling, grinding midfield match pitting the Donovan-Beckham/Juninho ($8.1m) midfield against the patented Jason Kreis diamond marshaled by Kyle Beckerman ($8.8m) and Javier Morales. ($11.1m). Naturally, the price for players on both teams would be higher than the league average to compensate. These days, though, it's a different story with LA off to a slower than usual start (even by their standards) thanks to the loss of Robbie Keane ($11.1m) and with RSL still in identity crisis mode under Jeff Cassar. As a result, the Wednesday match between RSL and LA has the best chance of seeing a clean sheet, maybe even a scoreless draw. That makes Omar Gonzalez ($9.5m) a fantasy must-buy, even he wasn't already LA's top fantasy earner with 57 points... right? Not so fast. Who does LA face on the road on the weekend? FC Dallas. Hey, didn't we already learn that they're kinda good? Huh. Meanwhile, RSL are on the road against Chicago. Forget a draw - that match is downright winnable for the Claret-and-Cobalt. That makes Real Salt Lake your best DGW team to load up on.
Of course, if I'm completely wrong and San Jose goes ham, cheese and turkey over Houston and Colorado in Houston and Colorado, it's RSL's fault and I claim no liability.
Round 9 Top Score
How the mighty have fallen - a sub-par week for Tony O'Donoghue has sent the Have A Go Heroes tumbling down to 7th in the Eighty Six Forever fantasy league. Rising up to take his place are three contenders separated by a single point: Columbus Crew SC (Crew Fan), Paisley SC (Barbara Red) and (sigh) Kaka's takin a deuce (Marc Geschwind). All right, look. Fantasy team owners? There's a difference between impressively clever wordplay and eye-rollingly juvenile wordplay. Hint: if your team name involves bodily functions, you're doing it wrong.
Thankfully, our top score this round is Calum M of 'Caps it off, whose team name is almost as good as his 92 points:
Boy, Luis Robles ($5.6m) sure didn't live up to his "DGW Obvious Pick of the Round" billing, did he? Our favourite Dane, David Ousted ($5.6m) outscored Robles with one clean sheet in Portland. Thankfully, Calum had solid captaincy choice Bradley Wright-Phillips ($11.1m) and fantasy stud Castillo to do the heavy lifting, with help from Obafemi Martins ($11.6m).
Matchups To Watch
3. New York Red Bulls vs. New York City FC
At some point, NYCFC (Nick-Fick!) will win a match and stop their disastrous introduction to Major League Soccer. Maybe that day will be when Frank Lampard finally arrives. I doubt that day will be Sunday evening as NYRB (Neer-Ub!) will be eager to bounce back from their loss to the New England Revolution. It might be worth your while to hold onto Felipe ($8.4m) for this round.
2. Houston Dynamo vs. San Jose Earthquakes
As mentioned earlier, the Dom Kinnear Derby has the potential to set the pace for both teams in the weeks to come. This could be one of those turning-point-type matches for both teams' seasons. For fantasy owners, that translates into cheap players suddenly earning big fantasy points. That's a good thing.
1. Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Philadelphia Union
If any match is going to jump-start a team's attacking woes, it's a match against the visiting Union. Philly has been Chivas USA-grade bad in the opening stages of this season and it doesn't look like things are primed to get better any time soon. On the other hand, Vancouver's dearth of attacking talent are itching to find the back of the net. Why, hello there, Octavio Rivero ($8.9m)...