I’m going to try something new this year with these player picks write-ups that was inspired by the work my friend Berbacat does at Fantasy Football First. If it works, I’ll try to keep it up. If not, well then back to the old way. So let me know what you think of this Fantasy MLS 2015 Round 1 Review (Part 1).
LA Galaxy 2 – Chicago Fire 0
The biggest question going into this game was how would LA perform without Landon Donovan and the answer is that while a few players are starting to step up, they are still figuring that out. Play started out slow as both Chicago and LA fielded several new players during this season opener, but it was LA that found their rhythm first and maintained the upper hand for the rest of the game. Goals came from Jose Villarreal in the 65th min when he drove home a deflected Ishizaki cross, and Robbie Keane off a back a Husidic back header in the 81st min. Chicago’s Quincy Amarikwa provided a few opportunities in the early minutes of each half, but LA’s defense remained strong.
- Stefan Ishizake (LA $8.0): The points earned by Ishizaki this round definitely do not represent the contributions that he made to this game. He had several passes that we just a step off from being a goal, he took the majority of set pieces, and had several promising looks at goal. He has points in him and they should come once finds its groove.
- Jose Villarreal (LA $6.1): If you’re still looking for a cheap midfielder, this is your man. Villarreal’s goal was not just the result of a lucky deflection, he got himself into good positions all night and helped created opportunities for others. Definitely one to keep an eye on.
- The LA Defense: They picked up right why they left off. A lot of Chicago’s frustration came from this still solid back line but with quality comes expense and you will have to pay if you to get coverage from an LA defender. Keeper Brian Rowe (LA $4.5) will be your cheapest option if he keeps the starting spot.
- Chicago Offense: With several big attacking signings over the off-season, many expected Chicago to come out of the gate swinging, but that’s not what happened. It looks like the Fire will need more time to settle in before any players before standout fantasy options.
D.C. United 1 – Montreal Impact 0
The first half of this match was mostly uneventful and could be attributed to both teams still recovering from CCL games prior to the start of eh season (or at least fans hope that’s it). However, the second half provided all of the action that one would hope for in a season opener. With star striker Fibian Espindola still serving a suspension, goal expectations fell to new acquisition Jairo Arrieta and he did not disappoint when he received a perfectly times lob from Chris Rolfe in the 59th min and scored the games only goal. While the Impact were not able to score in this game, they definitely show improvement from 2014 and should move up the Eastern Conference table.
- Jairo Arrieta (DC $6.6): Beside scoring the only goal in this match, Arrieta was also involved in several buildup runs, and able to earn 3 key passes. If this continues, he could prove to be one of the valuable forwards who is able to earn Bonus Points even when he does not score a goal.
- Steve Birnbaum (DC $7.6): He may not be the cheapest defender, but if he keeps earning comparable points as his $9.0 counterpart Boswell, he’ll perform above his price point. Definitely one to keep an eye on after the bye in Round 2.
- Toia Donny (MTL $5.0): If you’re still looking for value defenders, Toia is another name to add to your list. It’s not often a full-back earns that many defensive bonus points, but let’s be honest, you’re really hoping for clean sheets and value with a pick like this.
- Laurent Ciman (MTL $7.5): On the more expensive side of the defense, there is Ciman who racked up 20! CBIs in this game. Not those are the kinds of number that should make any fantasy manager’s mouth water.
- Chris Pontius (DC $7.0): I’ve not given up on Pontius yet, but the lack of finishing was very disheartening. Perhaps a little break over Round 2 will help him refocus.
- Round 2 Byes: Both Montreal and DC has a bye in Round 2, so if you are interested in taking advantage of their players, you’ll need to wait one more round.
Philadelphia Union 0 – Colorado Rapids 0
Frankly, this game was a big letdown and filled with a lot of disappointment for fans and frustrations for players. Philadelphia should have been able to easily put this game away when Colorado was reduced to 10 men after Bobby Burling received his second yellow card, but a pattern of missed opportunities continued to plague the union. If, however, Rapids fans should be happy to have come away from this game with 1 point. The biggest star of this came was the grounds crew who did an amazing job making this field playable.
- Fernando Aristeguieta (PHI $7.5): Even without a goal, the quality of Aristeguieta was easy to see. Not only in his ability to get involved with plays, but his ability to frustrate and draw fouls from defenders. More games are needed to decide if he is a better choice than Wenger, but it’s clear that he has lots of potential.
- PHI Attacking Mids: The combination of Andrew Wenger ($7.5), Sebastien Le Toux ($9.0), and Cristian Maidana ($8.5) is potent and it was only poor luck that the Union did not score 2 or 3 goals. I’d also expect Maidana to start the next game as his creativity made an instant impact after he was subbed on.
- Axel Sjoberg (COL $4.5): With Burling out due to a red card, managers should expect Sjobers to make at least one more start for Colorado. Another good performance could see him as a more permanent player and one of the best defensive values of the year.
- Dominique Badji (COL $4.5): It was a huge surprise to see Badji start this game. Will this happen again? I don’t know, but if you have the extra FT, then he’s worth the spot on your bench.
- Bobby Burling (COL $4.8): A cheap defender getting a card in game 1 is almost the worst thing that can happen in terms of fantasy. The only up side is if he keeps his starting spot, he’s $0.2 cheaper now.
- Everything else: Such a slow and under-performing game makes it difficult to get a good fantasy read on these teams.
Vancouver Whitecaps 1 – Toronto FC 3
If the PHI v COL game put you to sleep, then this was the game that woke you up. Action pack from the start when new Vancouver DP Octavio Rivero missed an easy goal in the opening minutes of the game only to connect with a second opportunity in the 19th min. Vancouver’s joy was short lived when Sebastian Giovinco snaked through a pass in the 32nd min to setup fellow DP Jozy Altidore for his first Toronto goal. In the second half, Vancouver continued to suffer defensive woes when Robbie Findley gained Toronto the lead in the 59th min. The game was sealed in the 90th min by a successful Altidore PK.
- New Toronto DPs: I’m still hesitant to recommend getting either Giovinco ($11.0) or Altidore ($9.7) due to the upcoming bye weeks, but Toronto seems to be challenging the home field advantage rule and if RSL keep playing as poorly as their first game, Rounds 4 and 5 could provide rewarding results.
- Vancouver Forwards: Vancouver suffered from a serious lave of chances being created from its midfield, but when they were both Manneh ($7.0) and Rivero ($8.6) looked dangerous. IF Vancouver can find its preseason groove again, these two should see goals in the next couple of games.
- Kendall Waston (VAN $8.4): Much hype was given to Waston before the season started so it’s very disappointing to see the Whitecaps give up 3 goals. If this is a sign of things to come, his high price tag will definitely be worth it. But, the next two games look easier, so he’s worth holding on to for the time being.
- Michael Bradley (TOR $10): There is no doubt that Bradley is a great player, but with the addition of Giovinco and Altidore, he is no longer depended upon to provide Toronto’s offensive spark and that is a big blow to his fantasy value. Final verdict…OVERPRICED!
- Davis Ousted (VAN $5.4): You can copy and paste much of what was said about Waston here. If the Vancouver defense does not solidify, it’s hard to see Ousted coming close to earning 13 shutouts again this year.
Houston Dynamo 1 – Columbus Crew SC 0
The theme to many of Saturday’s games seemed to be to start out slow in the first half and then come on strong in the second and this was no different. Much of the first half was each team testing the defense, but that quickly changed when the second half started and Columbus starting putting on the pressure and out shot the Dynamo 14 to 4. However, it was Houston’s Giles Barnes who scored the only goal of the match from a cross by Kofi Sarkodie in the 66th min. The talk of the night though was the performance by new Houston starting keeper Tyler Deric who withstood an onslaught of excellent shots from both old and new Crew SC players.
- Tyler Deric (HOU $5.1): As mentioned above Deric has a standout performance during this game. Not only did he earn a clean sheet but he also earned 6 saves which helped make him one of the highest scoring keepers from Round 1. Saves are not guarantee though, but as long as Houston keeps up this form, Deric will be quite the steal for his price.
- Hernan Grana (CLB $6.5): It’s not often that even an attacking defender earns 3 attacking bonus points so this makes Grana one to keep an eye on. The only down side are all of the bye weeks that they have, but a sub or a trade plan could help you deal with that. If he keeps it up, definitely grab him for the Double Game in Round 6.
- Brad Davis (HOU $9.5): Zero crosses and Zero key passes is definitely a disappointing result for player with a history of great bonus point production. This should not be a call to drop him from your team though, the Orlando game should be easier than Columbus and that will provide another chance for some points before reevaluating the spot.
- Columbus Offense: A lot has been said about the potential of this Crew SC team, but the pieces were just not falling together during this game. It’s not abandon ship time for Columbus players, just cross your fingers that they are on form for the double game week.
FC Dallas 1 – San Jose Earthquakes 0
An endurance test is the best way to describe this game from an FC Dallas point of view. They controlled the majority of the game and had many opportunities to score, but were unable to get a goal until the 92nd min when Blas Perez as able to connect with a cross from Moises Hernandez. It was a fortunate result for Dallas as they seem to be searching for the form they enjoyed in 2014, and unfortunate for San Jose who’s defense (which at times even included Wondo) did very well to hold Dallas scoreless for the first 90 min.
- Blas Perez (DAL $9.1): It may have taken him over 90 min to get his goal, but it was not from lack of trying. Perez had several good looks in the first half and should continue to be a primary target during Dallas set plays. He’ll also save you $2.0 if you don’t think the premium strikers are producing enough for their price.
- Zach Loyd (DAL $7.6): 10 CBIs and 12 Recoveries for a total of 3 defending points! Normally you would expect a CB to have more CBIs but 3 bonus points is an excellent return for a defender and that’s a very reasonable price if he keeps raking them up.
- Dallas Midfield: Manages spent all of preseason talking about Diaz ($9.0) and Castillo ($9.5) who had a problem finishing and keeping shots on target, and Michel ($9.0) who did not even start the game. These players will need to step up soon in order to justify their $9+ price tag.
- Dan Kennedy (DAL $5.0): This has nothing to do with anything Kennedy did. Many people had hoped that he would start for this game, but he did not and this caused many fantasy managers to groan.
Portland Timbers 0 – Real Salt Lake 0
The final score of this game does a poor job at conveying how much pressure Portland put on the RSL’s defense and how much they controlled the middle of the field. With the absence of so many of Portland’s marque players gave Darlington Nagbe and Jack Jewsbury a chance to shine and drive the Portland offense. Amidst this offensive onslaught, Nick Rimando was the standout player for RSL and came up with several huge saves to help them salvage 1 point from the game.
- Jack Jewsbury (POR $6.0): Listed as a defender, Jewsbury played Out Of Position in midfield and was on set play duty for Portland. We should expect this to continue to happen while Valeri and Johnson are away and will provide him a good opportunity for bonus points. Be careful though, he’ll still be penalized for goal concessions.
- George Forhive (POr $4.5): It’s not often a midfielder this cheap starts, and even more rare that he puts up a good performance. Portland showed that it has depth, so i could be rotated, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better vale at $4.5m.
- Nick Rimando (RSL $6.1): We already knew Rimando was good, but he earned a mention on this list. There were times when I thought it was just Rimando vs Portland. Worth every $0.1 million.
- Javier Morales (RSL $10.5): You just expect more from a player with fantasy history and price. The Philadelphia game will be one of redemption for him and he does not put up better numbers, you may want to reevaluate how you spend that $10.5m when RSL has its Round 3 bye.
That’s my breakdown for the first half of Round 1. What do you think? Did any players jump out at you who you think deserve to be highlighted? Mention them in the comments below, or send me a Tweet and let me know. Also, don’t forget to get involved with the get community her at MLS Fantasy Boss and over at /r/FantasyMLS.