(Psst! Join our MLS Fantasy Manager league! The code is 245-361.)
Well, so much for that "New York Red Bulls go bonkers on Chicago Fire" narrative I tried to float last week. The trap game is still a real thing, apparently, and boy oh boy did Jesse Marsch & Co. fall into it. Not that fantasy managers or NYRB supporters should be worried, mind you; the Red Bulls bounced back with a solid 3-0 trouncing of D.C. United, so they're still looking good to get you fantasy points for the remainder of the season. Let's not overlook Chicago, though; with Gilberto ($9.0m) now on the roster, there's a good chance the Fire could start stealing a point or three in their remaining games. Are they playoff-bound? Probably not, though that doesn't mean they're going to go down without a fight. Keep an eye on Gilberto and his teammates Harry Shipp ($8.1m), David Accam ($9.1m) and Kennedy Igboananike ($7.5m) if the fire begin to (ahem) heat up.
All the double-game week teams earned at least three points in Round 26, with the Colorado Rapids(?!) picking up a full six points with 2-1 wins over the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City. While a win over middling Houston isn't too much to write home about, a win over SKC does bear investing in at least a courtesy postcard. This Kevin Doyle ($7.4m) fella had a goal in each game and, despite a rocky start to his career in the Rockies, is finally starting to gel with his teammates. Many, myself included, have criticized the Rapids' stark shift away from the Pareja-era kids in favour of veterans - a plan that sacrifices the future for the present, to say nothing of its role in continuing the "retirement league" narrative of Major League Soccer. The only catch is that, at this moment, the tactic appears to be working and Colorado's player base - a bargain basement of sub-$8.0m players - is now a very hot commodity with regards to making a quick profit. Remember all that digital ink I've been spilling in favour of divesting yourself of high-priced defenders and middling midfielders to min-max towards the big points earners? Turning a profit on Colorado players is not a bad way to achieve those goals.
Finally, as you may have noticed if you've looked at your roster at all this week, we're coming up to a FIFA "break" (oh MLS, you and your crazy "bye" schedule; you have an even number of teams! If you need byes, just schedule them during the FIFA dates! Aaargh...) which means a metric whack-ton of your players will not be playing. Good news: you have unlimited transfers during Round 27 to field a competitive roster! Be careful, though, as you don't get that same luxury coming out of the break and your final unlimited transfers window is Round 32 & 33. To that end, you'll want to think carefully about what players to acquire with a view to sell immediately and what players to keep for a round or two before transferring out. If it helps, no team will be on a bye again until the aforementioned Rd. 32/33 unlimited transfer-palooza, which means we can skew ourselves towards DGW-heavy teams. Firstly, Colorado and SKC both have DGWs in Round 28, so don't press the panic button on all your SKC players just yet. Secondly - and more importantly - Montreal will be making up their games in hand in bunches in these later rounds, so the likes of Donny Toia ($5.0m), Evan Bush ($5.1m) and, assuming he's healthy, Ignacio Piatti ($10.4m) deserve your consideration. There's also some hot new signing - "Didier" something? - that might get a run out during those DGWs, so keep your eyes peeled.
Round 26 Top Score
What the - what the - are my eyes deceiving me? Did the leader in the Eighty Six Forever fantasy league really post a 32 in this past round?! Oh my... yes, it's true: Barbara Red of Paisley SC had a rare misstep in Round 26 as the big guns all came up empty. This was welcome news to all those nearby her who have gained considerable ground on the clear leader, though my gut tells me this is a case of "too little, too late". That will be small comfort to our top score of the round, a 115(!) from Cameron Miller of Soulpatch828:
And that's why you should put a little thought into your captaincy every week. A 42-point haul is a season-making move; well done, Cameron..
Matchups To Watch
2. New England Revolutions vs. Orlando City SC
New England have quietly been moving up the table as well, unbeaten in five (4W, 1D) and starting to resemble more of that late-season threat we saw in 2014. Coincidentally, Jermaine Jones ($9.8m) is healthy again. I wonder if those two thing are related...?
1. Columbus Crew SC vs. FC Dallas
I feel relatively safe guaranteeing the Crew will want a good bounce-back performance after their loss to New York City FC. Whilte it's true Dallas will be missing Fabian Castillo ($10.8m), Je-Vaughn Watson ($6.7m), Tesho Akindele ($8.0m), Blas Perez ($8.8m) and Moises Hernandez ($6.5m), Columbus will be without Kei Kamara ($9.6m), Justin Meram ($7.7m), Waylon Francis ($6.1m) and Will Trapp ($7.0m). On the whole, I suspect Columbus' losses will be less impactful than the losses in Dallas; either way, there will be points to be had with so many defenders out of the picture.