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MLS Fantasy Rekrap Round 31

Ben Olsen and the fantasy miracle

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at D.C. United Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The MLS season is not disappointing as it winds down towards the playoffs. DC United is playing something resembling soccer that is enjoyable to watch. In the seven matches since their six goal explosion against Chicago in round 26, they are averaging three goals per game. DC dispatched Columbus in the final twenty minutes on Wednesday to earn a 3-0 win. Against Toronto, their strategy of letting Michael Bradley turn the ball over to them and kicking Jozy Altidore led to beating TFC 2-1 over the weekend.

In fantasy terms, this meant that you did great if you made a deal with the devil and trusted Ben Olsen to do anything other than bunker his team and rotate his players, which I did not. I scored 88 points and dropped to 229 overall dashing my hopes once and for all of a finishing anywhere near the top 100; I am basically the Sporting Kansas City of Fantasy MLS.

Top Performers of the Week

Montreal turned their luck around, getting all six points in their double game week and it was in no small part thanks to the play of their keeper Evan Bush. Somehow, Montreal’s defense has a good reputation and I just don’t get it; they don’t keep clean sheets, they allow garbage goals, but they get results. I stayed away from Evan Bush and he rewarded owners with a blocked penalty kick against San Jose and a clean sheet against OCSC, this is the only week it would have made sense to add him and he rewarded managers with a fantastic score of 18.

Joevin Jones and Chad Marshall helped Seattle get the job done to work towards securing a playoff spot as both defenders contributed with a clean sheet against Chicago and each chipped in on offense as Marshall scored against Chicago and Jones earned an assist against Vancouver. Between them, they scored 32 points.

Harrison Afful got the most illegitimate clean sheet of the season as he was pulled in the 67th minute of the Columbus game at DC United, in the next 23 minutes DC pounced on the Crew for 3 goals, but Afful got credit with a clean sheet. He followed that game with a matchup against Chicago where the Crew got their own 3-0 victory with Afful scoring a goal and getting a second clean sheet for 21 points on the weekend.

A lot of people don’t know this, but to make extra money DCU defender Steve Brinbaum sells a product called BrinBalm that offers soothing relief to aches and pains. You can sell it too, just buy a case of it along with a packet of promotional materials including a life sized cutout of Steve, invite your friends and family over for refreshments and tell them about the benefits of this wonderful product. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!! You can make more money by getting friends who have been weighing heavy on your heart to sign up to be sales reps and getting a percentage of their revenue, it’s really a win-win and the DC defender won 14 points this week.

Lamar Neagle and Lloyd Sam did not get the memo about Ben Olsen hating Fantasy MLS and DC United is continuing their strong finish to the season as the two midfielders combined for 40 points.

I don’t know what’s more impressive, the fact that Ozzie Alonso scored a goal this week or the fact that he played in two games and didn’t get a yellow card, in any case the Sounders midfielder earned 17 points.

Justin Meram has continued his steady growth as a player for Columbus this season on a team that had to deal with the Kei Kamara drama, Frederico Higuain’s injuries, and Ethan Finlay taking a step back this season. The Crew midfielder earned 16 points this week.

Perhaps Dax McCarty was the only Red Bull who knew games lasted 90 minutes because rather than giving up their lead late, New York beat Philadelphia thanks to McCarty’s two assists and goal. The midfielder earned 18 points in the win.

If you are going to push Didier Drogba out of the starting 11 you had better deliver and Dominic Oduro did, going the full 90 against San Jose and Orlando and scoring a goal in each match to earn 17 points this week.

Let downs of the week

Like a toilet paper roll reaching it’s premature end in the crucial moment, Nico Lodiero went missing for fantasy managers this week. In addition to being fairly ineffectual against Chicago he earned his 6th yellow card in 11 games, what kind of attacking midfielder accumulates a yellow card every other game? Ozzie Alonso even thinks he needs to tone down his defensive aggressiveness. With the card, Lodiero was suspended for a juicy matchup against Vancouver and scored three points for his lowest total of the season this week.

Ola Kamara has been the most feast or famine striker of the season for fantasy managers and this week the streaky striker closed the Skyline Chili early and picked a bad week to go cold for fantasy owners as the Crew player got five points.

Owners who were depending on Cyle Larin to come up big for them probably watched in stunned disbelief as OCSC was held to 0 goals over their two matches as the Lions’ forward scored five points.

Picks:

Usually I say something sarcastically optimistic here, but something like ‘ah yes, the future, that time when we think that players like Alex, Alvarez, and Chad Marshall will bring our teams to the fantasy promise land’ is so transparently sad that I can’t pass it off as anything but evidence of the dire predicament we are in this week. Both Colorado and Houston will be on a double game week coming up but their options leave something to be desired.

MLS, unlike the top 5 leagues in the world, does not take an international break this week so we are left with 6 teams who will play this week - Columbus, Houston, San Jose, Colorado, Chicago and Seattle. Luckily we get unlimited transfers so we can repair the damage we’ll all do butchering our rosters to fill a team this week. This will be a weird week and you might not be out of line in captaining a defender.

I did want to make a quick note about transfer strategy. Many fantasy managers will be left wondering if they should take -4 point deductions to fill their rosters if they do not have enough players to field a full 11 with the two transfers given this week. In general my outlook on taking hits is that they aren’t worth it because you take a -4 and then add in the opportunity cost of the player you are removing to the negative being taken and then hope that the player you bring in makes up for all that. The only cases I would change that are for bye weeks and injuries. The problem with this week is that with so few teams playing, there is such a limited player pool that you may risk not getting a reliable return from players who are usually off the fantasy radar. I think the matches this week will favor defenses, especially the Rapids, since the defenders available this week are a better source of fantasy points than forwards will be.

Tim Howard/Axel Sjoberg/Marlon Hairston - or any other Colorado defender you like. Their midfield options aren’t good with Michael Azira being suspended for the first game this week and everyone else being inconsistent. Shkelzen Gashi may be called up for Albania’s qualifiers this week so be wary of adding him as well. Captain Hairston if you want an off the wall pick, he is listed as a defender so he gets clean sheet points, but plays as an attacker so gets chances for goals and assists more often.

Alex/Boniek Garcia/Mauro Manotas - Houston is bad and they have to play Colorado who is going to park the bus on them and Seattle who suddenly looks defensively competent and I would think will play a more conservative game in the absence of Joevin Jones, Dempsey, Lodiero, and possibly Brad Evans. Manotas showed what he can do with his hat trick recently but don’t bank on him doing that every week.

Jonathan Campbell/Arturo Alvarez/Luis Solignac/Michael de Leeuw - Chicago will be missing David Accam on international duty with Ghana and many of their players were rotated last week so picking a reliable Fire player may be like grasping at straws. I would confidently put Jonathan Campbell in my team though.

Heniok Goitom/Fatai Alashe/A defender? - San Jose will be missing a good number of fantasy relevant players on international duty this week including David Bingham which may put you off of their defense for good reason. Goitom is a talented striker who should play in Chris Wondolowski’s absence unless the U.S. international doesn’t play against Cuba or New Zealand and is just there for veteran locker room presence.

Ethan Finlay/Ola Kamara/Mohammed Saied - Saied might be the best midfielder to pick this week, he has 7, 4, and 11 points in his last 3 matches and with Justin Meram on international duty with Iraq, he might play a bigger role in the Crew attack.

Ozzie Alonso/Andreas Ivanschitz/Cristian Roldan/Chad Marshall - Alonso is a fantasy stud and is a must own this week, Ivanschitz was a late scratch last week so check his status before adding him, Cristian Roldan may benefit from playing more centrally with Lodiero on international duty with Uruguay and Chad Marshall should get a look if you need a defender. Brad Evans may also be worth it if his red card is rescinded so check his status as well.