(Psst! Join our MLS Fantasy Manager league! The code is 245-361.)
And so another self-styled "Rivalry Week" has come and gone in Major League Soccer. Bitter foes like the Philadelphia Union and Montreal Impact left it all on the field, and aged enemies like the New England Revolution and Vancouver Whitecaps put on a show for the fans that only further cemented their cl-
-I'm sorry, I'm being told not every match was a "rivalry" match over the past DGW. Huh. Bit of false marketing, there, no? Regardless, there was still good soccer to be seen and plenty of storylines to digest. Let's start with the reigning MLS Cup champions, the LA Galaxy. After destroying the Portland Timbers to the tune of 5-0(!), the Galaxy then went on to lose 3-1 to the San Jose Earthquakes thanks to a pair of assists from Matias Perez Garcia ($8.6m). So, on the one hand, we have an utterly dominant home performance that served as a warning shot to all Western Conference pretenders; then, on the other, we have Dominic Kinnear doing what Dominic Kinnear does and quietly building a force that even the mighty Bruce Arena must respect. The question, then: Is LA for real? We'll find out once we see if they can survive the Sebastian Gionvinco ($12.3m)-led Toronto FC without relying on Omar Gonzalez ($10.0m), who will be away on Gold Cup duty.
The other halves of those equations - Portland, San Jose and Toronto - are worth looking over as well. Portland bounced back from their embarrassment at the hands of the Galaxy to thump their Cascadian rivals, the Seattle Sounders, 4-1 in front of the Timbers Army with a brace by chainsaw-wielding maniac Fanendo Adi ($9.7m). That's not nothing, though it should be mentioned the Sounders are without Obafemi Martins ($11.7m) and Clint Dempsey ($11.8m) and, as a result, have an anemic popgun offense. As long as those two stay out of action, Seattle are in dire straits and due for a tumble down the table. (Losing Brad Evans ($7.7m) and Marco Pappa ($9.2m) to the Gold Cup isn't exactly a positive, either.) Based on that, it might be a bit premature to anoint Portland as a contender in the West; keep an eye on them over the next few weeks. As for San Jose, like I said before, Dom Kinnear gonna Dom Kinnear. There's a reason decidedly average Houston sides (with apologies to Geoff Cameron and André Hainault) were MLS Cup contenders under Dom's watch. Based on that pedigree, keep a very close eye on Perez Garcia and friends as the season winds on. Finally, TFC will be hurt by losing four players to Gold Cup duty: Michael Bradley ($10.4m), Jozy Altidore ($10.0m), Ashtone Morgan ($5.3m) and Jonathan Osorio ($6.9m). Can Gionvinco and Benoit Cheyrou ($8.3m) carry this team by themselves? Against the weak Eastern Conference, sure; against the stacked West? Perhaps not. Giovinco's good, not godly.
One final team to look at from this past round, and it's one you probably weren't expecting: the Philadelphia Union. The Union came out of the Round 17 DGW with a win (vs. Seattle) and a draw (vs. Montreal), which is four more points than anyone expected them to take away. And while Cristian Maidana ($9.0m) remains a reason why Philly are still at least somewhat relevant in this league, the young stud heating up right now is C.J. Sapong ($7.2m). I wouldn't expect his form to continue for much longer but for his price point (and his weakened opposition during Gold Cup), he's not a horrible bench option. Once that form dips, though? Abandon ship.
Round 16 Top Score
Moving to the Eighty Six Forever fantasy league, we've hit that magical point where the Top 50 teams have all crossed into four-digit territory for total points. You'd expect that, too, considering triple-digit scores were all the rage and failing to bank 100+ points sent you tumbling down the table (ahem). Barbara Red of Paisley SC remains our overall leader with 1174 after a 110-point Round 17. Our top score of the round - the 48th-best score in the game - is courtesy Todd Paulhus of CarlRobinsonSweaters, who posted a lovely 132 points with this lineup:
Captaining Gionvinco - A Smart Move™.
Matchups To Watch
3. Portland Timbers vs. San Jose Earthquakes
This is the culmination of my musings earlier. If Portland's for real, they squish San Jose at home. If "Dom Gonna Dom", the 'Quakes steal three points. Either way, fantasy fun is likely to be had here.
2. FC Dallas vs. New England Revolution
Don't look now but the Hoops have busted their six-game winless streak with a result over the Houston Dynamo and Fabian Castillo ($10.4m) has scored a goal. Now, can Dallas do it again against the Revs? You have to think of all the opposition to face off against, Houston and New England are pretty good choices to right a sinking ship. The Revs have lost four of five and have one win in their last ten(!). Yikes.
1. Columbus Crew SC vs. New York Red Bulls
So, it turns that bye week did wonders for the Crew's attack. Hello, Kei Kamara ($9.3m). Hello, Ethan Finlay ($8.7m). Hello, Tony Tchani ($7.3m). If you could be so kind as to mess up the Red Bulls (figuratively, not literally - I'd like Lloyd Sam ($9.1m) to stay healthy, please and thank you) with as much authority as you did the Revs and less of the mental gaffes that handed a draw to Real Salt Lake, that'd be grand.
Happy Canada Day, everyone! I'm off to enjoy the sun and play Football Manager 2015, not necessarily in that order.