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Bah. Perhaps I shouldn't have bashed the MLS All-Star Game so hard. I mean, it's still a nonsense friendly, I'm not backing down from that - especially when it wreaks havoc with the fantasy game - though I begin to question if my fervent demagoguery created a severe karmic backlash for my MLS Fantasy Manager team. One point for Sebastian Giovinco ($12.6m)? Two points for Kei Kamara ($9.4m) and Ethan Finlay ($9.0m)? Minus-two for Jozy Altidore?! Yikes. That said, on the defensive end, the likes of Laurent Ciman ($7.9m) continued their fine form, proving there are at least some players who can handle the rigors of the modern game. Well, at least there's only one All-Star Game a year, which means the next round will be free of complic-
A double-game week with two byes?! Come on, now... that's just not fair. *sigh* All right, then, let's pick through this minefield, shall we?
For starters, get off the FC Dallas train. Losing 2-0 to the Chicago Fire is akin to being smoked by Chivas
RIP USA. Yes, the Hoops will get a bye week to recharge and recover their form - goodness knows it had a similar effect on the Columbus Crew earlier - but I don't like their odds of coming back from a break week into Robbie Keane ($11.5m) and Steven Gerrard ($10.1m). Should Dallas lose that game, their Achilles' heel - a loss of confidence, swagger and/or mojo - will be cruelly exposed. Plus, if you can believe it, there's a cheaper option than Kellyn Acosta ($6.2m) on defense: Danny Toia ($5.0m) of the Montreal Impact, who is logging plenty of minutes and sits on a not-unreasonable 5.5 form and an appreciable 64pts, tied with some guy named Andres Romero ($7.9m). Sell Acosta, pick up Toia and bank that $1.2m to upgrade your midfield.
Other things to keep in mind:
- Real Salt Lake will be feeling the pinch of fixture congestion (and resulting squad rotation) as they battle in the CONCACAF Champions League, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and MLS. While Javier Morales ($11.9m) still has a sizzling 10.0 form (120pts), don't be surprised if he's held in reserve to try and get RSL towards a piece of silverware.
- Incidentally, the other USOC teams are the Chicago Fire, the Philadelphia Union and Sporting Kansas City. SKC and RSL, you may remember, contested MLS Cup back in 2013 and will be in one semifinal while the Fire and Union - two teams who are screaming for some sort of future-saving positivity a la D.C. United - are in the other. While I can see SKC maybe sticking with a mostly-reserves side in the USOC, don't be surprised if the Fire and Union go all-in for a shot at a trophy and a CCL berth.
- Speaking of CCL, aside from RSL and our Vancouver Whitecaps, the other three MLS sides navigating continental competition are the Seattle Sounders - and they aren't so hot these days, so why the heck do 18.7% of all managers still own Clint Dempsey ($11.7m)?! - the LA Galaxy and D.C. United. LA and Seattle, like all Western Conference teams, are in the thick of a wicked dogfight while D.C. is sitting nine(!) points clear of the New York Red Bulls atop the Eastern Conference table. Hm, I wonder which team will be nonchalantly cruising through MLS while sending their big guns to conquer CCL...?
Round 22 Top Score
Is Barbara Red still comfortably atop the Eighty Six Forever fantasy league with one of the best scores of the round? Yes? Right, moving on. As mentioned at the beginning of this column, the ASG havoc caused no small amount of swing in the point totals across the league. I wasn't the only person logging a sub-50 score; heck, Bryce Fidel's Fid-The-Kid posted a 41 and only dropped to 5th place, while SSB FC posted a respectable 62 to climb to 124th and only two points shy of hitting the magical 1000 total score mark. There can only be one best score amidst the chaos, though, and it sadly once again goes to the unfortunately named *sigh* Kaka's takin a deuce of Marc Geschwind, who dropped an 89 on us:
Marc, buddy, you're clearly talented at this game - maybe next year pick a name with just a sliver more intelligence behind it? You're not fooling anyone with the "silly name means silly player" trick. You knew to have wonder-rookie Cyle Larin ($6.2m) starting alongside David Villa ($11.3m). Own your pro status, Marc! Own it!
Matchups To Watch
3. Orlando City SC vs. Philadelphia Union
If Cyle Larin doesn't set the rookie scoring record against Toronto FC, he'll do it against the Union. Do the smart thing and start Larin. Heck, captain Larin if you're really feeling lucky. His teammates will be doing everything to get him the ball and that record, which means getting a few OCSC players for their DGW is not an unwise move. Just make sure you can sell them off next week, hopefully for a profit.
2. New York Red Bulls vs. New York City FC
So, this Shaun Wright-Phillips ($7.5m) character is pretty decent. I believe he has a brother? Bradley something? That could be interesting, especially in a match that, surprisingly, has delivered in the face of unrelenting hype in previous editions this season. I wouldn't count on a clean sheet for either side but I would count on goals. Maybe not as many as last week but goals nonetheless.
1. LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders FC
Cry s0m3 m0r3, Sigi. Your S0und3rs are in for a world of hurt after a midweek CCL tilt against Vanc0uv3r that threatens to further dem0raliz3 the squad. You may be tricked, Sigi, into thinking LA will be weakened as well - nope! Bruce Arena's depth c0ntinu3s to shock and amaze and I have no doubts they'll manage their midweek match just fine. Fantasy 0wn3rs, load up.