Our mates are on international duty so no Champions League or English Premier League this weekend. I couldn’t go a whole week without giving you something so I figured there was no better time than now to get you familiar with the teams we’ll be dealing with day in and day out through the summer. That’s right, it’s SOCCER TIMEEE!!!
(I looked everywhere for a video of the Spanish announcer who yelled that at the start of every World Cup game...couldn’t find it. But the three of you who remember should get a giggle just picturing it.)
That’s right! When the EPL and UCL end, we aren’t done. There will be MLS games all the way through the summer until the EPL picks back up. Right now, the contests are small, but they will grow when the other leagues die down and there is more money in the atmosphere. The league has progressively gotten better and better; to the point where they are selling their best players to clubs like Bayern Munich! Newcastle just purchased Atlanta United’s best player for around $30 million!
The fun thing about MLS is there are usually goals to be had. Goals = DFS points. The long dog days of summer see some tired legs and hilarious score lines. I’ll be bringing you all of that and more from May moving forward. But we can’t just jump in without giving you a little heads up on who to look out for…
The good news is we are now a couple weeks into the season so we actually have some data points to look toward for analysis. The good and bad news is the MLS is seeing a big influx of teenagers playing and making an impact. That’s great for the league but means a lot of work for your boy Duke, staying up with what’s happening in the academies and individual teams. That’s why I get the big bucks…
Alright, enough chit chat…let’s get down to it. Without further adieu, here is a quick preview of every single freaking team in the MLS.
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER DFS PREVIEW
Let’s start with the current table a few games into the league.
DC United made one hell of a comeback last season to make the playoffs. I have to be honest; I considered the Wayne Rooney signing a joke. He’d looked so bad before the transfer it seemed more like a seat filler than a signing with monster impact on the field. I WAS DEAD WRONG. It’s turned into a brilliant signing and he, along with Luciano Acosta, have formed one of the most dangerous attacking duos in the league.
- Rooney is off to a great start this year with three goals already. Rooney has already fired 15 shots and 18 crosses in three games.
- Acosta is back after his failed transfer to PSG…yes, THAT PSG. Paul Arriola is the third tip of the attacking spear.
- Arriola is a workhorse, but most of the DFS stats come from the top-2.
Columbus has undergone more change than any team in MLS. New ownership and a new head coach have me wondering how this team will do early. They finished 5th in the east last season, largely based on possession soccer and sharp quick passing in the final third. Caleb Porter is the new manager and does promote attacking soccer here. Wil Trapp at the base of the midfield should provide solid cover for the back line. Projected finishing position for the Crew is all over the map.
- Federico Higuain is the brother of the more famous Gonzalo of Chelsea, but he’s made his own mark on MLS. He’s one of the best playmakers in the league and has started all three games they’ve played thus far. He leads the team in crosses with 13 and has picked up an assist as well.
- Pedro Santos has 12 crosses and two assists as well.
- Gyasi Zardes has been reinvigorated since his trade to Columbus and is off to a great start with 2 goals scored.
How the mighty have fallen. There was a real argument Toronto fielded the best team in MLS history two seasons ago on their way to the trophy. They nearly went from first to worst, finishing 9th in the table a season ago. They finished with only 36 points and a -5 goal differential. That total won’t be helped by the departure of former MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco. Attacking stud Victor Vazquez also departed, along with defensive stalwart Nick Hagglund, who left for FC Cincinnati. In their place, Toronto brought in a US Men’s National Team reject (Terrence Boyd), a veteran defender (Ciman) and an attacking MLS vet in Nick DeLeon.
- Jozy Altidore – Much of the scoring will fall on his shoulders. When healthy, he’s one of the best in the league. Form in and fitness will be key.
- Michael Bradley – The set piece taker and deep lying playmaker. He’s even bagged a couple of goals early in the season.
- DeLeon – One goal on six shots through two games.
Montreal might be the most blah team in MLS. They aren’t good but aren’t bad. They finished 7th in the EAST last year behind only 47 goals for in 34 games. They do have one of the better players in the league in Ignacio Piatti and I like what I’ve seen from Taider so far. Urruti is the question mark. I wonder if he can push this team on to the next level. For you Arsenal fans out there, you might recognize their right fullback who goes by the name of Bacary Sagna!
- Piatti – STUD player and STUD DFS player. He has three goals in three games early on this year. Here is the troubling part for Piatti I’m seeing. His crossing is way down early on this year. Let’s keep an eye on this before turning him into an auto lock.
- Taider – This guy has lock button all over him. Two goals and an assist through three to go along with five shots on goal and 14 crosses. Taider does seem to be taking all set pieces!!!
- Okwonkwo – Second on the team in shots with eight. On loan from Bologna in the Italian league Serie A.
NEW YORK RED BULLS
Perhaps the class of the Eastern Conference. They won the Supporters Shield, which goes to the team that amasses the most points during the regular season, nipping it from Atlanta United on the final day of the year. 22 wins, five draws and only seven losses in 34 games will get you some silverware. The usual suspects are back. The big departure was Tyler Adams, heading to the Bundesliga in Germany, and Aurelien Collin at the back. They’ve signed their two CBs to long term deals to solidify the backline for years to come.
- Bradley Wright-Phillips – This man continues to produce. Always in the race for the Golden Boot. BWP has started one game and scored one goal this year. A DFS monster but usually priced up.
- Rzatkowski – Took the corner kicks in his one start this year. Also picked up seven interceptions and six tackles. He only had one shot but sent in six crosses. One to watch.
- Muyl – How do two goals in two sub appearances sound? Not a usual contributor at this rate…I expect some regression to the mean with his play.
- Royer – More of the contributor throughout the length of the season. Already has a goal and an assist early on.
The new blood! All they’ve done so far is pick up a point on the road in Atlanta and grab their first win at home in front of 50k screaming fans. My expectations are low for this roster, but I’ve been wrong before. (Insert roast of your boy Duke here.) The goals have been spread around early, and this looks more like a collective effort than one superstar leading the way.
- Adi – The old hat in the lineup. He terrorized the league for years with Portland before moving to the expansion side. He’s MLS proven, but I wonder how much he has left in his legs.
- Lamah – Lamah leads the team in crosses and has taken the majority of corners thus far.
- Bertone – Our first defender to make the preview. He’s taken some corners and two other set pieces thus far. He’s started all three games. He also has five shots with nine interceptions.
Another team with a bunch of turnover. David Villa, their all-time leading scorer, has left the club and left behind a giant hole to fill. NYCFC finished 3rd in the East last year; they are consistently near the top of the table and making a push for a high playoff seed. New boy Mitrita will be relied upon heavily to fill the scoring gap. I do expect a bit of a downturn in their finish this year.
- Mitrita – He should lead the line, barring a big signing that could be coming. In three starts, he has one goal on 19!! Shots. Only five of those have been on goal. He’s also contributed 10 crosses in those three games and has been on corners and free kicks. He’s the DFS go-to here.
- Maximiliano Moralez – I just love that first name. How are you not great at soccer with that first name?? Moralez will line up underneath Mitrita and roam as a bit of a #10 in this system.
- Ring – Alex will play in a wide area and also be relied upon to pick up the slack from a scoring perspective. Two goals in three games will be allllriiighttt. Only one cross and zero shares of set pieces ain’t great.
First of all, just know Orlando has tried desperately to fashion a rivalry with Atlanta United out of seemingly nothing. Add in the fact Nashville will have a team in the league next year, and this is a one-way battle. Perennially, Orlando just flat out stinks. It’s not for lack of investment or effort. They have one of the better home stadiums in the MLS and plenty of support. The players just aren’t very good. Enter new player, Nani! For those who don’t know, he’s a magician on the ball. He’s played for some of the biggest clubs in the world, but you have to wonder what he has left in the legs. Personally, I think he’ll be great. Not Kaka good but a great addition. They finished DFL (Dead Fucking Last) in 2018 and will likely only marginally improve on that finish. The playoffs are the dream.
- Dwyer – A proven goalscorer in the league. He also can’t stop knocking up his wife either. She has a World Cup to prepare for Dom!! Keep it in your pants bud. Two goals through three games, only one of which he’s started.
- Nani – Slow start to the season to get his fitness up, but I expect him to feature heavily in their attack. He does have one assist in three games with two starts.
- Kljestan – The assist king if this team can actually score goals. That’s a big if. He plays the #10 role in behind Dwyer and Nani and should be free to roam and cause havoc.
- Mueller – Just wanted to give a quick shout out to Mueller. He’s actually been taking the majority of set pieces and leads the team in crosses at the moment. He’s also bagged a goal. One to watch.
Last season was a banner year in the young franchise’s existence. They narrowly missed out on the Supporters Shield but did hoist the Championship trophy at the end of the season. All was great, but then the inevitable happened. Tata Martino, their accomplished manager, left for the Mexican National Team job. Their best player, Miguel Almiron, left for the greener pastures of the English Premier League. New coach Frank de Boer has his work cut out for him, as he’s off to a very slow start. This is a team that scored over two goals per game last year. They are off to a slow start, but let’s look at the prime players.
- Josef Martinez – F – Golden boot winner last year with 31 goals.
- Pity Martinez – M/F – No relation…won South American Player of the Year last year before a record transfer to Atlanta United. Takes free kicks. Crosses. Shots. Quality player.
- Ezequiel Barco – M/F – A jitterbug in attack. We’ve yet to see the best of Zeke, but he’ll be relied on heavily in the attack.
- Gressel – M/F – The assist king last year for ATL Utd. We’ll have to see how he fares.
High priced 35-year-old CDMs is maybe not how I would start my roster… Chicago finished 10th last season, but the new look front line of Katai, Nikolic and Frankowski could cause some issues for defenses. With Mihalovic playing the #10 and Bastian Schweinsteiger and Dax McCarty protecting the back 4, this is a team that should improve on their finish from last year.
- Sapong – Nikolic had all the preseason hype, but it’s CJ who has gotten off to a fast start with two goals and one assist in three starts. He only has three shots on goal in that time, so some regression can be expected, but he’s a UNIT on the field and throws his weight around well.
- Mihailovic – I’ll take the set piece taker with nine shots and 15 crosses in three games. That, my friends, is a floor.
- Frankowski – First on the team with 16 crosses in three games (2 starts) who also has an assist to go along with five shots.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
New England desperately needed reinforcements to improve on their 8th place finish from last year. Carles Gil is on fire to start the season with three goals early on. He and Caicedo should form a great partnership up top. Of course, you have Fagundez on the outside providing service. The big thing will be finding the back of the net. This could be a bottom dwelling team…
- Gil – It was mentioned earlier, but three goals in three games are pretty good. 11 crosses and nine shots help his case as a DFS staple. Oh yeah, he takes corners as well.
- Fagundez – There really isn’t much to love so why not take a shot on a player who has done it before and is still quite young.
- Like I said, not a lot to love…
Philly finished 6th in the East last year and brought in Marco Fabian from Germany to add some attacking firepower. Surprisingly, it’s been an 18-year-old homegrown player who has looked like the world beater in Brenden Aaronson. I was able to see him in person against Atlanta United, and he was the best player on the field.
- Fabian – He’s been brought in to produce. He has 11 shots in two games with a goal. Eight crosses also help. He should be on set pieces.
- Aaronson – Hopefully his price stays low for a while so we can grab an edge there.
- Bedoya – A US Men’s National Team standout for the longest time, his best days are behind him. He no longer provides a ton of DFS value, so for me, he’s a FADE.
Wait. are the Sounders awesome? It sure looks that way. Perhaps the team with the least amount of transfer activity is getting an early return just with continuity. The return of Jordan Morris is a monster boost. They have a legit shot to win the West. They finished second last year to Sporting KC.
- Ruidiaz – This dude can play. Three games; three starts; three goals. Eight shots with six of them on goal. Give me the forward of the team that is leading the league in goals.
- Morris – I mentioned he is back. I think people forget how much hype there was around this kid. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be part of a lethal attack.
- Lodeiro – I have no idea how old he is, but it seems like he’s been one of the best players in the league for the last 10 years. One goal, two assists and 12 crosses in three is a great place to start. DFS Gold in this lineup.
The cool kids. Will Ferrell and other celebs are partial owners and will be at home games all season. They’ve created a great home field advantage and have the quality on the field to match it. Rossi and Vela form the best young attacking partnership in the league (arguably obviously), and if Ramirez can find his goalscoring form or Nguyen can get his old legs to work, they’ll make some serious noise in the west. There is a good blend of youth and experience here.
- Vela – Maybe the best player in the league. He has three goals and two assists in three games. He also has 17!! Shots and 20 crosses. You are an idiot if you don’t roster him.
- Diomande/Ramirez – It looks like Ramirez will get the first crack at starting F, but if Diomande continues to come off the bench and change games, their roles might reverse.
- Rossi – This young gun came almost out of nowhere last year and is now on the radar of some of Europe’s elite. If he can put back-to-back seasons together, this might be his last in the MLS.
Houston needs to find a consistent goal scorer. Easier said than done, but they have quality in the wings. Manotas has been off to a good start, and shocker Houston has won two of their first three games. They’ll be looking to improve drastically on their 9th place finish last year.
- Memo – Three goals in three games (sound familiar?). Eight shots; six crosses. Filling a Midfield slot with that goal upside is DFS gold.
- Manotas – As I mentioned, he’s started well with two goals in three games. He’s getting 50% of his shots taken on goal. He doesn’t offer much in the way of peripherals so he’s a boom or bust player.
- Elis – Super talented winger who can absolutely fly. He has a goal and two assists this year already. One for Europe if he can find that end product.
- Quioto – He leads the team with 18 crosses and picked up an assist. He’s taken eight corners already this season.
They have a very fancy new stadium that I’d love to get up and see at some point this year. The team just flat out stinks. They finished 10th last year, scoring only 49 goals while conceding 71. They took some strides to improve that defense, bringing in Ike Opara and Osvaldo Alonso. That will definitely help. The playoffs are a stretch for this roster.
- Quintero – I think he’s a great player. For MN, he’ll be relied upon heavily to produce, and he has with two goals and three assists through three games. Those are uber efficient numbers when you look at his peripheral stats, which aren’t all that great.
- Gregus – He’s started all three games and is taking all of the corners for MN. He also has a goal on six shots.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
Zlatan FC. They narrowly missed out on the playoffs last year, finishing 7th. They’ll certainly be hoping to improve on that finish and took the step of buying out Gio Dos Santos’ contract to get under the 3 DP threshold. They’ve scored five and conceded five through three games and sit 5th in the table at the moment but have won both games at home.
- Zlatan – Still an absolute monster. He’s only played in one game this season, but of course, scored. He also took five shots. He’s the Ronaldo of MLS.
- Feltscher – Another Defender to make the highlighted player list. 15 crosses in three games to lead the team always gets my attention.
- Alessandrini – The tatted up legend. The Galaxy essentially chose him over Gio, as they needed to get down to 3 DP contracts. He’s an absolute baller on the LW for the Galaxy and should hook up with Zlatan all year.
The Champs of the Western Conference last season have seen some roster turnover but were able to hang on to their manager, which should help continue the results they are accustomed. Top-4 seems like a worst case scenario. I’m excited to see if Kellyn Rowe can regain the form that saw him called up to the US Men’s National Team several times a few years ago.
- Nemeth – A stone cold killer in front of the goal. Super technical poacher who relies on service from others to create his chances.
- Russell – Hopefully, he’s the guy providing those chances. Russell usually lines up on the right side of a front 3 and has provided 12 crosses in three games to go along with a goal and an assist. He’s also taken all of the corners to date.
FC Dallas has done it their own way. They’ve brought more players through their youth setup than any other team in the MLS. They have a constant flow of young talent, and I’m sure we’ll learn some new names this year as well. They finished 4th in the West last year but are off to a 1-1-1 start in 2019. They lost Max Urruti but plan to pick up right where they left off last year.
- Badji – Let’s start at F. Badji should lead the line and be in and around the box all season. He hasn’t opened his 2019 account just yet but does have three starts and an assist on only three shots. Plenty of time for this to turn around.
- Mosquera – Starting at LW in a funky 4-3-3, he leads the team in crosses early on with 10. He’s taken four corners and chipped in a few tackles to boot.
- Barrios – He occupies the other wing and has taken five corners. He’s likely to get going shortly, as he’s already off the mark with a goal this season on three shots.
REAL SALT LAKE
They snuck into the playoffs last year in place of the Galaxy. They are literally a middle-of-the-table team. Their GK Rimando announced this would be his last year. I’m sure we’ll get the most out of him, and he is quality. Speaking of quality, Rusnak is a beast. Savarino and Johnson form a decent trident of attackers for RSL.
- Rusnak – I said he was good. Two goals in three games on eight shots with 10 crosses. Set piece taker. He does take PKs for RSL as well. Reminder that MLS does have VAR…
- Savarino – He shoots on site. 10 shots in three games, but no goals or assists just yet. It will come. He has taken three corners.
Whew, were they bad last year. They finished 11th in the Western Conference while scoring a league-low 36 goals in 34 games. Needless to say, the attack needed an overhaul, and they brought in two MLS veterans to turn it around. Kamara and Feilhaber will certainly add some new dimensions to the worst attack in the MLS.
- Kamara – On his day, this guy can be the best F in the league. He’s getting long in the tooth so it won’t happen as frequently as we’d like. Very good in the air. He isn’t afraid to shoot either with 10 in three games. He has scored one goal already.
- Feilhaber – A former US Men’s National Team player and MLS veteran. He’ll be on set piece duty and crossing, shooting and doing whatever is needed to create chances.
- Rubio – He will play alongside Kamara and should benefit from the space he’ll create. He’s already bagged a goal in three starts.
If you haven’t seen a Timbers game on TV, you are missing out. The Timbers Army is real, and they have, without a doubt, the best goal scoring tradition. They finished 5th in the West last year but made it all the way to the finals, where they eventually lost to Atlanta United. They have a great side with former MVP Diego Valeri. They really didn’t lose any top talent in the offseason and will be looking for a repeat performance of last season.
- Valeri – Guy is a beast. Already with a goal and two assists, he has what has to be a typo…..38 CROSSES in three games. He’s usually one of, if not the most expensive player on every slate.
- Blanco – The man on the opposite side of the field, Blanco actually leads the team in shots through three games with 12. Add 18 crosses to the list and you can quickly see why he’s DFS viable.
- Ebobisse – A player who needs to become good sooner rather than later. He was a high draft pick in the collegiate draft last year. Still young, he has two goals and one assist already and is showing signs of having a hell of a season.
Vancouver gets a bit overlooked by Toronto and other Canadian teams but wasn’t horrendous last year. They finished 8th but had a -13 goal differential. They added a massive attacking piece in Fredy Montero in the offseason. He’s off to a hot start and should improve them tremendously in the attack. However, they still look like a bottom half team.
- Montero – One goal in three games but only six shots with one on goal. Not super promising. Also, his goal was a PK…
- Reyan – The better floor player is Reyna. 17 crosses and four shots from three starts isn’t terrible. 10 of those 17 crosses have come from corners.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Woof. They were horrendous last year with a -22 goal differential and finished 12th in the West, accumulating 21 points from 34 goals. That was, by far, the least amount of points by any team. The bad news is they didn’t get any better. Wondolowski is another year older. They do have a new manager in Almeyda, who hopefully can spark some life into this dead team.
- Wondolowski – He’ll likely be crowned the all-time leading goal scorer in MLS history at some point this season. I’ll never forgive him for missing the sitter against Belgium in the World Cup, so to me, he’s dead.
- Espinoza – Not a ton to love on this team, but he’s been slightly productive, comparatively speaking. He does have a goal and has put in an obscene 41 crosses. YO!!
Alright guys that will do it! 4500 words on the MLS. Read it all. Read none of it. Whatever you do, bookmark this article and come back to it as we heat up our MLS action later this year.