Welcome Fantasy Newcomers
The general consensus is that the Western Conference is deeper this year than the Eastern Conference. That’s not to say the Supporter Shield winners won’t come from the East, just that more teams will be competitive in the West. Some teams brought in a whole new team (Vancouver Whitecaps) while others just got their star striker for a full preseason (Seattle Sounders). Either way these teams are looking to make an impact this year and will be doing it with the help of some new additions. With that in mind, let’s look at some of my favorite newcomers in the West.
The Vancouver Whitecaps are, much like FC Cincinnati, a brand new team. The only team with more transfers-in than the Whitecaps is FC Cincinnati, and, like I said, they’re a brand new team. However, this is a huge breath of fresh air for anyone who has watched the Whitecaps the last couple years and thought, “Wow, they have some really good players…why do they suck?” I’d attribute a decent amount of that to new coach Marc Dos Santos.
There is tons of value and potential on this roster. Hwang In-beom ($8.5) is an unprecedented signing not just for Vancouver, but also for the league. He’s a young (22) South Korean international who, somewhat controversially, could’ve gone to Germany. He can play the 6, 8, 10, or “free 8,” which basically means he’s versatile and will most likely be on the ball a lot. That translates to lots of passes and lots of opportunities for bonus points. At just $8.5 he could be a steal as the engine of a very interesting Whitecaps team.
The two most interesting additions from a value/potential perspective have to be Lass Bangoura ($7.5) and Joaquin Ardaiz ($7.5). Bangoura could benefit from all the attention being on Reyna and Montero. He got some good looks in preseason; if he can parlay it into more starts and the team meshes like I’m hoping, then $7.5 could be easy money. Ardaiz’s chances are looking a bit worse with Montero coming back to Vancouver, but there are always opportunities to prove yourself and at just 20 Ardaiz is definitely looking to prove something. If he earns the starting spot off of Montero at some point in the season, he’s definitely one to watch and great value.
Disclaimer: Vancouver players are a big risk at this point. When you have this many new pieces, you just never know what the final product is going to be. Pick at your own risk.
Sam Johnson FWD $8.0
Sam Johnson is Real Salt Lake’s new “DP,” however; he’s really only a DP in name and could be bought down to a TAM contract in the future. The real problem with Sam Johnson right now is that he’s missed the latter half of RSL’s preseason with a slight knock, so we really have no idea how he fits. However, at $8.0 he could be a great value pick-up. RSL has plenty of creative ability throughout their roster. What they may have been lacking is someone with not just the pace, but also the physicality and runs of Sam to stretch defenses and occupy CBs. The players around him will dictate how productive he is from a fantasy perspective. He’s a wait and see, but again great value.
Kei Kamara ($9.5), Diego Rubio ($7.5)
I may be grasping at straws here. I wanted to get a couple more newcomers in, but the reality is the Western Conference doesn’t have many true newcomers, it’s mostly building on last year or acquiring pieces from within the league like the Colorado Rapids have done. However, I think Kei Kamara and Diego Rubio are both candidates for completely new players. My man Jason W. (@homesweetsoccer) has pegged both to have breakout years, despite being on the latter ends of their careers and I’m buying stock as well.
Kei has proven to be one of the best forwards the league has seen with a wealth of experience and is a true Target-Man, while Rubio has shown he’s got that special nose for goals that we hate Wondolowski for.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 5, 2018
These guys can score goals. I don’t know what else to say.
Kei Kamara, Tim Howard and Benny Feilhaber will not let this team fall apart. This team has some bones to pick with the league, and Kei Kamara and Diego Rubio will be the benefactors of this system. Don’t sleep on Colorado and don’t sleep on Diego Rubio’s measley $7.5 price tag. (If Rubio is injured or loses form Shinyashiki ($4.5) could be a great pick-up and is Matt Doyle’s pick for Rookie of the Year so take that for what it’s worth).
The Rest of the West
I realize, I basically just promoted Colorado and Vancouver, however, like I said before, they’re really the only teams with major change. I won’t go in to too much depth, but will drop a quick list here of every other team in the west and the one player you should keep an eye on for your fantasy teams down the line:
Sporting Kansas City – Kellyn Rowe ($7.0) – If Kellyn manages to lock down a starting spot, $7.0 will be dirt-cheap. He’s been waiting for a shot to really show what he’s got and he didn’t get it in New England.
Seattle Sounders FC – Jordan Morris ($8.0) – I don’t love that I’m doing this since he probably belongs on a comeback list (which is a good idea in hindsight), but $8.0 is a deal for Morris. He’s starting on one of the top teams in the West and that pace tho…
LAFC – Andre Horta ($7.5) – This signing mid-season for LAFC came with a lot of intrigue, but didn’t pan out last year and didn’t need to due to LA’s wealth of riches. He’s basically a new man with a full preseason this year. His quality is there. If he earns a starting job, he could be a nice option.
FC Dallas – Paxton Pomykal ($6.0) – I’m not as big of a homer as Doyle has been leading up to the start of the season, but we may have our first $6.0 starting No. 10 in the history of MLS. If he does have the stuff, he may soon become a must-have because of the ridiculous value his situation offers.
Portland Timbers – Jeremy Ebobisse ($7.5) – New Year new Ebobisse. He’s apparently beat out Melano for that starting job up top, which will make him the guy receiving service from the likes of Blanco and Valeri. Kids ready to eat and will most likely outperform his $7.5 price tag. Get @MattDoyle76 on twitter if he doesn’t not me!
LA Galaxy – Whoever LA sign to back up Ibrahimovic. At 37, Zlatan is not getting any younger. Last year he started 24 of 34 games. I’m not sure that goes up at all and now that LA are reportedly close to losing Ola Kamara , they might desparately need a back-up No. 9. Whoever that is will have some quality around them creating chances and worth their probably affordable price tag if for nothing more than a switcheroo.
Houston Dynamo – Tommy McNamara ($5.5)/Marlon Hairston ($6.0) – Both of these guys acquired this offseason from within MLS have shown flashes of potential and the ability to produce. If they earn a couple of starts or even somehow manage to lockdown a starting spot they could provide solid value for some switcheroo options if that’s your thing.
Minnesota United FC – Jan Gregus ($7.0) – I’m just putting him in here, because he’s the only true new signing and I have no idea what to expect. If he’s tasked with a more offensive role in this Minnesota team reborn, then he’d be an interesting option.
San Jose Earthquakes – I’m with Matt Doyle on this one. I’m not touching any San Jose players new or old except for a ridiculously cheap starting goalkeeper in Daniel Vega ($4.0)
If you’ve made it all the way to the bottom of this, I hope you learned something or got some interesting new ideas. As MLS grows both in size and culturally, the amount of guys and the places these new players come from are all over the place. It’s a lot of fun getting to know them and have them on your fantasy team. One thing I urge all newcomers to do is have at least one guy on their team they’re truly excited about or that they love to watch. If you can’t decide between two guys, pick the one you’d rather be watching right now on the TV. Those are my two cents. Hopefully, I’ll still have some change to give as the season goes on.
If you hate everything I said, or have more questions, feel free to follow me on Twitter and get at me in my tweets or my DMs. Always down to chat!