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Damn you, Benny Feilhaber ($10.4m). A red card on the front half of a DGW is not going to help you retain your place in my good books, especially since I had you as my captain. Hmph. Best not to dwell on it. (Stupid DOGSO, ruining my score, grumble grumble bah.)
Hey, remember when I mused about the possibility of swapping Robbie Keane ($12.1m) for David Villa ($11.4m) owing to Villa's better season-long numbers and cost savings? Thank goodness I opted to hang on to Keane this past round, as the LA Galaxy put a 5-1 curb-stomping on New York City FC to emphatically end that discussion. Yes, Villa is still 17 points ahead in overall fantasy score; based on the form of his team and Keane's team, I wouldn't expect Villa to keep that position for long. As is to be expected with expansion teams, NYCFC are showing their weaknesses - ones that can't be patched immediately by the aged legs of Andrea Pirlo ($10.2m) and alleged teammate Frank Lampard ($10.0m) - which makes investing in NYCFC (Nick-Fick!) an exceptionally risky propsect outside of Villa. It's a similar situation in Orlando, where the Lions are looking absolutely flustered with no offensive ideas whatsoever. Cyle Larin ($5.8m), wonder-kid and likely rookie of the year that he is, is still a rookie and would need to show signs of being the next Christine Sinclair (get well soon, Sincy) to carry his team towards any sort of relevancy. Larin is still the cheapest striker in the Top 20 Forwards list and doing very well for his price point (91pts, good for 13th among all strikers), so if you're pinching pennies, Larin is still a fine way to go. If you want production, though, and can spare $0.4m, take a good long look at Mike Grella ($6.2m) from the New York Red Bulls. Promising kid from a good team trumps promising kid from a cellar-dweller.
Speaking of cellar-dwellers, remember when the San Jose Earthquakes were hot garbage? Ah, good times watching a Western Conference team burn to the ground. One problem: hot garbage teams, while great for the fan's psyche, are not great for the fantasy manager. How am I supposed to get value out of cheap picks when the team itself has no value?! And then, perhaps unsurprisingly, Dominic Kinnear reminded us why he's still one of the craftiest, most talented coaches in all of Major League Soccer. The 'Quakes are 3-1-1 in their last five games and have conceded two goals in that span. They are currently riding a three-game winning streak, all of which were clean sheets. Boy, do I feel good about picking up Shaun Francis ($5.3m) for San Jose's DGW and banking a healthy 12 points. You may want to consider picking up a cheap 'Quake or two yourself, though I would caution doing so right now. LA Galaxy are not an opponent to expect to go scoreless. The Philadelphia Union and Seattle Sounders, on the other hand... why, hello, Rounds 27 and 28. If you feel you need a San Jose player now, look towards the attacking third. Shea Salinas ($8.7m) is on a 6.4 form rating and is only owned by 0.7%(!) of all fantasy managers.
One quick final note: the FIFA dates in September are rapidly approaching, so be sure to plan your substitutions accordingly. MLSSoccer.com is tracking the call-ups, in case you need an overview. Memo to owners of Kaká ($11.7m) - sell sell sell sell.
Round 25 Top Score
Seeing entry after entry of triple-digit scores in the Eighty Six Forever fantasy league really isn't helping me console myself after Feilhaber failed harder. Still, props must be given to Barbara Red of Paisley SC who continued her dominant campaign (she's in 2nd place in the entire game) with a 111 buoyed by a captained Kei Kamara ($9.7m). As good as that was, it wasn't the best score of the round in the league. No, that honour goes to Elise Brunk of My Turn Toux Wynne (brilliant) who clocked in with the 18th-best score of the round - 129:
Well la dee da, Ms. I-Can-Afford-Both-Villa-And-Keane-So-I-Don't-Have-To-Choose. Aren't we all fancy and such.
Matchups To Watch
3. Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact
Here's some science for you: nine-man Orlando is a vastly different opponent than eleven-man Montreal. As such, I don't expect another 5-0 romp from TFC but I do still think they'll put up some points. Montreal is no pushover, though, and assuming delicate flower Didier Drogba ($10.0m) can get over his grievous toe injury there may well be goals on either end of the pitch. That said, don't forget Montreal will be coming off a certain midweek match of some importance. It might be a factor.
2. Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers
It's the Battle of Transfer Window Reinforcements with more than a little pride on the line. If Portland can get a result here, they will severely dent Seattle's chances of getting the Cascadia Cup. Hence, both teams will likely be quite fired up and ready for an action-packed game; the question is, has either side finally figured out how to score goals against teams not named Orlando, action intent notwithstanding?
1. Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls
Reports suggest Shaun Maloney fetched in the neighbourhood of $2 million from his sale to Hull City. Hopefully that bed of money will provide some solace to the Fire faithful before the Red Bulls go bonkers on them in this midweek tilt. If you needed a compelling reason to invest in NYRB this round, ladies and gentlemen, Exhibit A.