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In the lead-up to the start of Round 13, I realized my post-wildcard roster was well and truly an all-in on the Seattle Sounders. Tyrone Mears ($6.9m), Brad Evans ($7.8m), Clint Dempsey ($11.8m) and Marco Pappa ($9.2m) found their way onto my squad, which meant all I needed was some half-decent play and one clean sheet to have a successful week. I promptly texted a photo of my squad to my good friend Greg, who mused that an all-in, regardless of team, is a pretty big risk. Initially, I laughed him off, but as the day went on I considered his words. Is it a bad idea to fully commit to an in-form DGW team knowing bad results will sink your entire roster, or is it worse to diversify and lose out on a big payday? As it turns out, the answer is "diversify"; with my wildcard still active, I swapped out Pappa for Luke Mulholland ($8.3m) to get some Real Salt Lake flavour and a little extra cash in the bank.
Wednesday night's headline: "Sounds Win 1-0 On Pappa Golazo". Damn it, Greg! Saturday's box score: one goal, three attacking/defending points and 88 minutes played. Damn it, Greg! Pappa's DGW total: 19. Mulholland's DGW total: 2. Damn it, Greg!! This is what I get for trusting someone I publicly declared I would be trying to defeat as my main goal for this season. Note to self: do not trust the opposition, no matter how many harrowing adventures you've had together.
Looking elsewhere around the league in Round 13, FC Dallas are in trouble. I know we moan and wring our hands on this blog about the nosedive our Vancouver Whitecaps are in; I would recommend seeing the recent results from Frisco for some much-needed mental health, not the least of which was the Friday night massacre at the hands of Graham Zusi ($10.8m) and Sporting Kansas City (called it!). Yes, our dear friend Benny Feilhaber ($10.0m) did pot another goal (Benny, Benny, Benny / can't you see...) but it was Zusi who ripped apart the Hoops with a goal and two assists for a whopping 17 points. Has Zusi returned to reclaim the mantle of "Captain Fantasy"? If so, he'd better get his points in quick before Gold Cup duty pulls him from Major League Soccer. It's a pretty safe bet that Zusi will get a call-up as opposed to Feilhaber, which is a touch unfair as Benny's form has been impeccable this season even beyond the metrics of MLS Fantasy Manager. As for FC Dallas, it was a rough day at the office for everyone, though fans of budget players getting minutes will be thrilled to see the loss of Fabian Castillo ($10.2m) meant a full 90-minute shift for Ryan Hollingshead ($5.4m). There weren't any bonus points to speak of for Hollingshead, but two points is two points - not to be sneezed at when your value is below $6.0m.
Finally, we cast our gaze to Lower Cascadia, where my comments from last week clearly inspired the Portland Timbers to feats of greatness as opposed to their previous "meh". A 1-0 win at home against D.C. United is no small feat considering how D.C. have been grinding out results all season long to sit four points clear atop the Eastern Conference standings. Likewise, going to Colorado and claiming a 2-1 win at altitude can't be ignored and suddenly the Timbers have gone from one in win five to three wins in five. Maximiliano Urruti ($8.7m) led the way for the Timbers with a 13-point DGW, followed by strong performances from Liam Ridgewell ($8.5m, 12pts), Gaston Fernandez ($8.6m, 12pts) and Jorge Villafana ($6.1m, 8pts). Not to be ignored, though, is the long-awaited return of captain Will Johnson ($8.6m), who logged an 83-minute shift on Wednesday, zero minutes on Saturday and still came away with eight points. Not bad for a man recovering from a broken leg and widely expected to be in contention for a Gold Cup spot with Canada. So, what does this mean as a whole? It means that, should Portland's form continue - a tough ask against the New England Revolution - there's potential to get in some valuable points that other managers are missing out on. Of the players I mentioned earlier, Villafana has the highest ownership rate at 2.7%. Heck, even the inarguably talented Darlington Nagbe ($8.4m) with his 46 points is only owned by 4.3% of all managers, of which I'll hazard 90%+ are Portland supporters. Again, this all hinges on Portland continuing to find results. If they don't do so against the Revs, they have to wait two weeks to try against the Houston Dynamo. It's a gamble, to be sure - a gamble that could pay off handsomely should the numbers come up in your favour.
Round 13 Top Score
The battle atop the Eighty Six Forever fantasy league is continually fascinating. Barbara Red's Paisley SC holds her top spot, though the lead is getting slimmer and slimmer. Chris Corrigan's Clavin FC outscored Barbara 87 to 81, cutting her lead to a mere three points. Hot on their heels, only a single point behind Chris, is another contender who also bagged the best score of the round: 103pts! It was one of only two triple-digit scores in the league this round and it belongs to Marc Geschwind of (sigh) Kaka's takin a deuce:
The smart decision was to captain Clint Dempsey ($11.8m), since a player that expensive had better darn well bring you some return on the investment. In hindsight, it's hard not to think about what might've been with Pappa's juicy 19-point haul doubled. An extra 28 points would've given Marc the best score in the entire game by a wide margin; as it is, he had to settle for the 35th-best score. Oh darn.
Matchups To Watch
3. Columbus Crew SC vs. Montreal Impact
What a DGW for the Crew. Midweek they travel to Sons of Ben territory for what should be a cakewalk against the Philadelphia Union before crossing the 49th parallel to take on L'Impact. On paper, that should be a mountain of points for the likes of Kei Kamara ($9.1m). Assuming the suspension of defender Michael Parkhurst ($7.7m) doesn't mess up the Crew's mojo too badly in Philly, Parkhurt's return should ensure a positive field trip to Canada on the weekend.
2. San Jose Earthquakes vs. FC Dallas
If FC Dallas are truly in trouble, this is a winnable match for the Quakes. Chris Wondolowski ($11.2m) in particular is still a capable goal-scorer and, having passed the century mark, shows no signs of stopping. There are still plenty of question marks to be raised around Wondo's supporting cast, though I have high hopes for Matias Perez Garcia ($8.3m). David Bingham ($5.2m) continues to be a solid pick in goal, too.
1. Sporting Kansas City vs. Seattle Sounders FC
Two teams in sizzling-hot form with dynamite fantasy players going toe-to-toe? Um, yes, please. Ignore the defenders and go straight for the midfield and forwards. Thar be points ahoy! (Yar!)
One final note - don't forget to pay close attention to the injury report and international call-ups for this round. The last thing you need is to be stuck with an expensive player who won't see a minute of game time.