Ibrahimovic, Rooney, Schweinsteiger are all names you know. These names can be tempting for the ridiculous expectations their names entail (Ibra did give us 21 goals & 10 assists in 2018 after all). As we enter MLS 3.0 though, the more common names coming to MLS are lesser known to the average MLS fan, but potentially more valuable to the average MLS Fantasy Manager.
You’re most likely not familiar with a lot of the names that are coming in to MLS. That’s ok. Honestly, it’s probably better that way. The reality is, we will all learn a lot about these players in the first couple of weeks and adjust our strategies to account for surges in form, injuries or lack of playing time. With that in mind, I’ve been given permission by the “Boss” to talk about the guys I’m excited for from each conference. If you listened to the first pod of the MLS season, don’t be alarmed when my words and their words don’t always add up.
Welcome Fantasy Newcomers
Let’s start with the Eastern Conference. We saw big names like David Villa, Sebastian Giovinco, Victor Vazquez as well as a few other important names head east. However, we also saw the strongest team in MLS history pound for pound (Atlanta United) go even bigger with the signing of Pity Martinez. There’s a lot to be excited about. There are new players from leagues new to many MLS fans and increased quality entering MLS rosters across the US.
Pity Martinez ($10.5)
If you aren’t thinking about Pity Martinez, you’ve been living under a rock (or just hate Atlanta and have muted all noise coming from their camp). Pity is supposed to replace Almiron as the engine of Atlanta’s offense. This means the likes of Josef Martinez, Barco and Villalba won’t have to be relied on to carry the team. This is great, because none of them are capable of such a burden.
The worry with new guys is they aren’t tested and don’t know what to expect. I wouldn’t worry with Pity, because he has something most new additions don’t have around them: excessive talent. Pity will have enough talent around him and a veteran presence in the back, which means 1. Other teams can’t afford to focus on him and 2. he will be allowed some wiggle room in adjusting for the first part of the season. That being said, he WILL produce. He was on set pieces for Atlanta in their CCL matchup and was making people look silly. Pity will have a high floor as he looks to add points through Fouls Won, Dribbles, Key Passes.
He’s just automatic ??
Pity Martinez curls in an unstoppable free kick! pic.twitter.com/T6XIFsvUpB
— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) February 10, 2019
New England Revolution
The Revs are basically a Newcomer to the league. They signed Juan Caicedo to be their No. 9 and then spent the largest transfer fee ever paid by the Revolution for a player on Carles Gil ($2 million). On top of that they added Edgar Castillo, a veteran Left Back and added two homegrowns in Justin Rennicks and Nicolas Firmino (not to mention Isaac Angking from last year). Except for Firmino, everyone just mentioned is expected to play a role for the Revs next year. That’s 4 new players to the squads front 6. Now add in Cristian Penilla, Juan Agudelo, Diego Fagundez, Teal Bunbury and tell me you can’t come up with an exciting combination up front out of those players. I’d pay money (and will be paying money) to go see that team play. Disclaimer: the Revs did lose 6-2 to Orlando City SC
Of the new guys mentioned above the one who are most likely to produce will be Gil ($9.0). Fagundez and Gil are especially well priced. Outside of him, it’s a wait and see game. The Revs suffered from rotation to their squad last year and will probably take time to settle on a core that works well. If you’re feeling frisky pick-up Gil from the get go and see what he can do against a very young and new FC Dallas team. Could be a chance to get on the hype train before it leaves the station.
My dark horse pick is Justin Rennicks ($5.0). He’s gotten a lot of minutes in preseason, was a highly coveted homegrown signing this offseason and in his interviews you can see he believes he belongs and wants to prove a point. Check back at the Summer Break and we’ll see if he doesn’t have 6 combined goals and assists.
I was sitting in front of my laptop with Orlando City’s roster open trying to shut out the noise… “Orlando city is a dumpster fire…don’t touch their players…you’ll regret it…I hate Will Johnson…” All of a sudden it was announced: “Orlando City signs Nani to DP contract”
The Nani to MLS rumors that everyone scoffed at were true and who else to bite on the aging star of old but Orlando. I don’t mean to poke fun at Nani, just Orlando, but the reality is everyone loved to hate on DC for their Rooney signing and DC United laughed their way into the playoffs.
Bobby Warshaw had a good piece about Nani, that resonated with me. He said, “my upside, their risk.” There’s no doubting Nani’s upside. He’s been playing well in Portugal this season, and while he’s lost a step, he does have talent around him in a rebuilding Orlando side. Sascha is as good a playmaker you’ll find in MLS and with Nani at $9.5, I think he could be worth it at home to start the season against a NYCFC team that is searching for its new identity post-Villa.
Alexander Mitrita ($10.0)
From Giovinco’s ashes a phoenix clad in blue flames arises, Alexander Mitrita. His diminutive stature and agility on the ball have him dubbed as the next “Atomic Ant” already. He scored a banger in NYCFC’s preseason game against Nashville SC (Aka MLS told us we couldn’t beat an MLS team until we were in the league so we lost to NYCFC on purpose) No one expects him to replace David Villa, and now that Villa is gone it may actually be easier to replace his scoring output by playing a new system that allows the goal scoring onus to be distributed among the likes of Maxi Moralez, Jesus Medina and Mitrita. At $10.0 he could be a fun pick-up and is dynamic enough to go big, but liable to go missing during a game as well.
Welcome to America, Alexandru Mitriță ? pic.twitter.com/4PUsPF0DTr
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) February 23, 2019
Lucas Rodriguez ($9.0)
If you’re as hyped about DC United as our friends at Extra Time Radio, but aren’t as hyped about Lucho Acosta or Rooney’s pricing, then Lucas Rodriguez provides a more affordable but equally deadly, albeit it unproven, access to offensive output. At just 21 years old he’s got his best days ahead of him and could prove to break out this year using Rooney as a springboard the way Acosta did. Who knows, maybe we’ll see Lucas Rodriguez go to PSG next year for $20 million?…
Marco Fabian ($9.0)
This is an interesting one. Marco Fabian was once dubbed the next big thing for Mexican soccer. He went to the Bundesliga, played some games for Eintracht Frankfurt, but ultimately never took off and spent a large chunk of time dealing with injuries. Despite his injury problems he is still 29 and has a lot to prove. Dockal led the league in assists last year with this Philly team. Marco Fabian has undeniably more upside than Dockal, the question will be how the team as a whole plays and how the young CB pairing of Mckenzie and Trusty holds up in their first full season together. I can hear Fabian in my ear chirping “put me in coach.”