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Greetings from holiday land! My apologies for leaving this article until right before the deadline; hopefully upon reading this you still have some time to make any needed transfers before the 4pm PT deadline on this beautiful Thursday. Without any further ado, let's crack on.
So. That Sebastian Giovinco ($12.9m). He's kinda good, right? He sure was for my fantasy team this past round, scoring an unfathomably legendary 28pts in his DGW, which I captained up to 56. The Atomic Ant is in sensational form right now - not having him on your fantasy team is a risk that simply cannot be overcome. You can captain the likes of Ethan Finlay ($9.0m), Benny Feilhaber ($10.7m), Kei Kamara ($9.6m) and Robbie Keane ($11.7m) all you want - if you're doing so without Giovinco on your team, you are setting yourself up for a world of hurt. I understand that price tag will be an off-put to some of you. That's a fair concern. Rest assured, if you can swing the finances to make the deal, you will not be disappointed. Do I regret sending away Kendall Waston ($9.3m) and Perry Kitchen ($7.5m)? After a 56-point haul, not a chance.
I mentioned two players in that previous paragraph that deserve a bit more attention: Kamara and Keane. Both have been on my striker corps for a while now and, as the season approaches its final stage, barring injuries both will stay on my team until the end of the year. Betting against an in-form LA Galaxy - road woes be damned - boasting the likes of Keane, Steven Gerrard ($10.1m) and Sebastian Lletget ($6.6m) is not a wise course of action. They're going to make the playoffs with ease and make more than a few teams looks foolish in the process. Out east, for all their warts (and there are many), the Columbus Crew boast a formidable partnership in Kamara and Finlay. With the dangerous Federico Higuain ($10.4) up to his usual tricks, there will continue to be compelling reasons to put Kamara in your starting lineup - goal-based reasons, to be precise. In other words, Keane and Kamara are easily the two forwards to ride like racehorses to the end of the season. To complement them, I've still got Cyle Larin ($6.0m), whose output-versus-price makes him a no-brainer for any team's roster, and space-filling Dominique Badji ($4.4m), who for a while was getting minutes with the Colorado Rapids before going on loan. As a result, Badji is the cheapest striker in the game and worth having to min-max your funds for other, bigger acquisitions (cough Giovinco cough). Those four players make a formidable quartet - one I will be loathe to tinker as the regular season finishes.
Round 23 Top Score
Good news for fans of consistency: Barbara Red of Paisley SC is still comfortably atop the Eighty Six Forever fantasy league. Her score of 122 wasn't alone, though, with three other teams in the Top 50 also banking that identical scoreline. As good as it was though, it wasn't the best score in the round; that honour goes to Dave Townsend of Manneh Money who logged 132pts on the backs of, who else, Giovinco and Feilhaber:
Good to see Dave has his team's namesake on the roster, and that said namesake showed up with seven points. That could've been awkward otherwise.
Matchups To Watch
3. Sporting Kansas City vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
SKC didn't skimp on starters for their midweek U.S. Open Cup match against Real Salt Lake. Dom Dwyer ($10.5m), Krisztian Németh ($8.5m), Kevin Ellis ($6.5m), Matt Besler ($9.6m), Benny Feilhaber ($10.7m)... that's a formidable corps of players to have playing twice in a week. They're all professionals and I'm sure most if not all will play (probably) but they're going up against a well-rotated Whitecaps squad that has been dynamite on the road. Tread lightly, Sporks supporters.
2. New York City FC vs. D.C. United
With all that early-season squad rotation out of their system, D.C. can get back to doing what they do best: beat up the hapless Eastern Conference. City's still a mess and I fully expect the Black and Red to mess their opposition up even further after ninety minutes. The loss of Fabian Espindola ($10.5m) hurts, but more on the "annoying itch" level than "extreme agony".
1. New York Red Bulls vs. Toronto FC
I typically don't have many positive things to say about the Eastern Conference. This match, however, is going to be a doozy. NYRB are finally, after so many poor years (and one good one under Mike Petke) playing up to their expectations. The rise of TFC has been well-documented (cough Giovinco cough). Don't rely on defenders too much, methinks, because this has all the makings of a goal bonanza.