OK, for the Semi Finals, I’m going to move away from the format I’ve been using. Instead of focusing on each position, I’m going to focus on each game and let you know what I think about the match up and who I think is worth getting.
If you want to see more, keep reading after the break. But please join the discussion at r/FantasyMLS, that’s where a lot of planning is made and last second decisions finalized. If you have questions, please stop by!
Sporting Kansas City v New England:
Well I was right about one thing for this first game, it was a tough and physical for both teams. But in the end, New England was able to overcome the SKC defense that I thought would be able to hold strong. Now SKC is down 2-1 coming into their home game and this means they will need to score at least 2 goals to have a chance at advancing to the Conference Finals. In leg 1, SKC dominated the offensive stats and I believe that 2 goals is possible at home.
Unfortunately, my confidence in the SKC defense has been shaken, and I think it also time to hedge your bets with them. Aurélien Collin is your best option from the SKC defensive line. He’s a goal threat on set pieces and it’s not uncommon for him to get 3 defensive bonus points. Graham Zusi is still the obvious midfield attacking choice and demonstrated why he should be on your team by earning a score of 6 without getting a goal. I don’t think you can count on Zusi and Collin to provide the two goals SKC needs, so if you want to look for a forward, C.J. Sapong is your best chance. But he may be a 4th choice (at best) compared to other forward options in this leg.
As for New England, it gets a little tougher. They have the second best away record when it comes to giving up goals, and they may decide to bunker up this week to protect the 1 goal advantage they have. The last time they played at SKC, they gave up 3 goals and since the NE defense it not a big goal threat, you should be able to find better options in other games. For Midfield, the two best options are still Lee Nguyen and Kelyn Rowe, but the recently in form Andy Dorman could also prove to be a good differential if you want to take a risk. Like SKC, I think other teams have better forward options.
Prediction: SKC-2 NE -1 & SKC wins on PKs
Portland v Seattle:
This was the hardest game to review for this leg but it was also the game I enjoyed watching the most. Seattle dominated the shooting and passing stats, but not the goals scored, and the one goal came for Seattle was late in the game. This gives me some confidence going into Portland’s home game.
Portland’s defense looks like it has a good chance to get a clean sheet if they are able to deal with the desperation that the Seattle team is coming in with. It helps that during the regular season, Portland conceded the second fewest goals while at home. Most managers are sure to have at least one Portland defender for this game, Rodney Wallace. Playing OOP as a forward make him an obvious choice. If you want players who are actually defenders, the two best options are the big centers Pa-Modou Kah and Futty Danso. They have the bonus numbers I love to see and only complement the potential clean sheet. At midfield, Portland has the same issue as Houston, several good options who can all get goals and assists. Diego Valeri is still my top choice at midfield. He gets attacking and defending bonus points, assists, and goals. Just an all around good choice. My second choice still goes to Will Johnson. I know that Nagbe got the goal in the last game, but Johnson is still on good form and has better bonus point potential. Finally, I’ve never been a fan of Ryan Johnson this season, but I’m surprised that he has 10 goals. He’s the best budget option.
Seattle, on the other hand, is in trouble. They are coming in to face a Portland team that is energized and has an impressive defensive record at home. Seattle should be bolstered by the return of DeAndre Yedlin and possible Michael Gspurning, but they allowed almost 2 goals per away game during the regular season. Because of this, I can’t recommend any of their defensive players for this second leg.The high point for Seattle in the last game what that they dominated the attacking possession and shots. This gives them a little hope to get one past Ricketts. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to come from one of their three main attackers: Clint Dempsey, Mauro Rosales, or Eddie Johnson, but I think they will have a hard time.
Prediction: POR-1 SEA -0
New York v Houston:
What a nail biter or a game and what a testament to the playoff form that Houston brings every year. Ideally, Houston would have loved to come away with a win during this game, but after the recent losses to New York, this comeback draw has to fill them with confidence going into the second Leg.
Nut next week the game is in New York, and even though the Redbulls will be without Olave, they still have their attacking force. Because of this, I think relying on the NY defense would be risky and it will be best to stick with their core offensive players. The top of that list is Tim Cahill his performance leading up to and during the playoffs make him a must have for as long as the Red Bulls are in. If you want to go with more of a differential, Eric Alexander is the way to go with his 2 goals in the last two games. Of course, if you want to go defensive, Dax McCarty is the heart of the defensive midfield and he’s always a threat for an assist or a goal. Your forward choice is obviously Thierry Henry.
As for Houston, they have a poor records in New York and I don’t expect this game to be any better. They may be able to pull it out since Olave will not be able to play, but I don’t think they will be able to keep a clean sheet. So just like NY, it’s best to focus on the Houston attacking players. This is difficult because there are so many players that have goal scoring potential in the Houston midfield. My top pic is Boniek Garcia because of his ability to score goals and earn both offensive and defensive bonus points, which will be useful in this last game. Next is Ricardo Clark. He does not get many bonus points, but he has a goal and an assist so far, and that form makes him tempting. I’m also going to include Brad Davis on this list. He’s not done much so far, but he’s on all set pieces, so he always has a chance for an assist. Finally, after I’m going to say that I was impressed with Will Bruin in the Wildcard game. He did not earn many points in the NY game, but if you’re desperate for a forward, and can’t afford one of the 9.5m+ players, he’s worth a shot.
Prediction: NY-2 HOU-1
Real Salt Lake vs Los Angeles:
Rule number 1 is “Never Captain Olave” and rule number 2 is “Bet on the Home LA Defense.” I messed up that second one this time because of the history RSL had with LA, but this was not the same RSL team that got those goals during the regular season. They are only down 1-0 so they will come all out during their home game, but the LA defense has been energized.
RSL has some very impressive defensive moments during their game at LA, but LA managed to blow several chances that could have made the score much worse than it was. At home, RSL have allowed 16 goals during their 17 regular season games, so I don’t think they are a great bet for a clean sheet in this one. If you feel different Chris Schuler and Nat Borchers are your best defensive choices because even without a clean sheet, they still have the ability to rack up great bonus point numbers. As for their midfield, I was pretty disappointed with the performance. It’s like they we not able to find their groove and that makes it hard to make recommendations. Luis Gil has the standout performance in my mind and Kyle Beckerman was able to generate some decent defensive bonus numbers. I think we can expect good numbers from them again, but they need Javier Morales to find his form again so that can take advantage of his service. Forwards are a tossup for me, Saborio struggled the other night and Plata did not play. RSL had some success when they added more speed up front late in the game, but it’s just too jumbled for me to feel good about one guy.
LA has the upper hand going into this second Leg, but not as much as they would have liked. RSL has averaged almost 2 goals scored per game at home and they will be fired up after the loss. I believe the LA defense will have their hands full with RSL during this game. Omar Gonzalez remains the best choice because of his bonus point and goal threat, but you may want to try to hunt clean sheets instead. For the midfield, Landon Donovan remains your only real option but Robbie Rogers did play well in Leg 1 so he’s worth keeping an eye on. Even with the 2 BCFs, I still think Robbie Keane is worth having, if only to see how energized he is to make up for the poor performance. Unfortunately, another promising LA midfield choice is listed as a forward right now, Gyasi Zardes is definitely a guy to keep your eye on, but he might not be worth picking up until there are fewer forward options.
Prediction: LA-2 RSL-1
• I just can’t quantify desperation.
• I think clean sheets are going to be rare again.
• RSL could make changes and that gives them a big ? for me.
• I don’t think Keane will miss again. But I love his reactions when he does.
These are my picks, if you think there should be more names on this list, or if you have questions, please leave a comment or come to r/FantasyMLS and comment on the post. You can also leave a message on our Facebook page or you can find us on Twitter @FantasyMLSTips. Keep checking back for more updates through the week for other positions. Good Luck!