MLS kicks off this weekend with the season opener Portland Timbers vs Minnesota United FC on Frisay night (Saturday morning). Are you prepared? Have you built your draft Fantasy MLS team?
Game week 1 is the “Opening Weekend Challenge”, which means our scores don’t count in our mini-leagues. Moreover, this season we have unlimited transfers. You can confidently create a team in the knowledge that if it all goes wrong then the mini-leagues don’t start until game week 2 and you have time to fix your team. Yes, it is the perfect time to have a go at Fantasy MLS. So join us as we meander through the first round and try to discover the potential game week 1 stars.
Game Week 1 Preview
In brackets for each team we show the overall table position for that team last year.
Portland Timbers (12) vs Minnesota FC (New)
The Timbers fans were disappointed last season. Their team couldn’t reach the playoffs, despite winning the Cup in the previous season. The only record they achieved was no away win for the entire season.
From a fantasy football perspective, midfielder Diego Valeri was the point magnet attracting many managers. The other was Fanendo Adi with 16 goals and 2 assists. Can we trust them? Yes, This team is going to score a ton of goals this season. And in this opening game, given it is against a brand new MLS team (they call this an Expansion Team), there should be goals too. The problem is that due to the With the additions of Blanco and Guzman, Portland’s have a front six of Guzman, Valeri, Blanco, Chara, Nagbe, and Adi – who plays?
— POR Timbers Soccer (@POR_Timbers) February 18, 2017
Minnesota are the new boys on the block. We have to see how they will adjust to the MLS style of play. Obviously we will see many new faces, but also well known players have been transferred into Minnesota from existing MLS teams. The well known Kevin Molino moved from Orlando. He had an impressive season with 11 goals and 9 assists and will be on set pieces for MFC. We also need to pay attention to defender Francisco Calvo because he likes to score goals. Ibarra, Ramirez and Venegas should form the front 3. The Norwegian midfielder Josh Gratt and Bashkim Kadrii from Copenhagen FC are the latest additions. I don’t think this team will have the greatest prospect defensively, but the will attack.
Columbus Crew (18) vs Chicago Fire (20)
Ah, this will be a game between the second last and last finishers in the Eastern Conference. Excited? I am not.
The Crew were second worst in terms of conceding goals so they decided to add some much-needed fresh-force in defence. One is from Ghana Jonathan Mensah and another from Finland, Jukka Raitala. And after losing Clark they will have to trust young Zack Steffen.
The latest signing is the midfielder Artur from Sao Paulo Of course the old boys like Afful, Meram, Finlay, Higuain and O.Kamara who did very well are still with the team. Watch out for Steffan who should be in nets.
Now we move to The Fire who finished at the bottom for second year in a row. What can I say, they just tried hard but couldn’t find the rhythm all season long. They were awful in scoring and conceding goals. Let’s hope this season will be a new start for them.
The old faces Campbell, Alvarez, Polster and Accam are still there. But we’ll have some fresh faces like the Polish Nemanja Nicolic, the Brazilian Juninho and Dax McCarty from NYRB. Maybe there is a hope given Rodriguez and Paunovic have been scoring in preseason. Nikolic has the potential to excite.
LA Galaxy (6) vs FC Dallas (1)
The Galaxy will miss familiar faces Gerard, Donovan, Magee and the “great” Robbie Keane, while behind the scenes almost all of the coaching staff left. So, with the new manager Curt Onalfo we can see new players like Jermaine Jones from the USA national team, the young Brazilian player Joao Pedro and their hit signing Roman Alessandrini from Marseille. From the old army Dos Santos, Lletget, Steres and Van Damme remain. Giovani dos Santos and Alessandrini will score.
Dallas, the overall winners will try to repeat their success which saw a dominating performance of 17 wins and only one loss at home. Big contribution for that was from the popular defenders Zimmerman, Hedges and Figueroa. With their top player Diaz expected to remain absent for a very long time they brought Javier Morales from Real Salt Lake.
Two other exciting signings are the winger Roland Lamah from Belgium and the striker Cristian Colman who will be the new competition for the well known Maximiliano Urruti. Not long ago the team acquired Carlos Carmeno from Deportivo Tachira and the Argentine defender Hernan Grana.
Real Salt Lake (9) vs Toronto FC (5)
Real finished in the middle of the Western Conference table and managed to reach the playoffs for seventh year in a row. After they lost Morales and Martinez they signed the Slovakian Albert Rusnak and strengthened the defence with David Horst from Houston Dynamo. Lately Brooks Lennon arrived from Liverpool. Players to pay attention are Glad, Mulholland, Plata and Yura Movsisyan.
Toronto, everyone’s favourite! They won last year’s Canadian Championship for the fifth time and were runner up in the playoffs. We can’t ignore the sensational goal machine and former Golden boot winner, Sebastian Giovinco who finished the season with 17 goals and 15 assists. He was a must have player for most of the season.
The great defenders Morrow and Moor, the midfielders Bradley and Osorio and the striker Altidore are still here. New additions will be the versatile midfielder Armando Cooper from Panama and the defence will be re enforced with the French Chris Mavinga who arrives from Rubin Kazan. Just few weeks ago the club signed the Spanish midfielder Victor Vazquez who started his career in the Barcelona Academy!
Sebastian Giovinco: Best goals, skills, and highlights for Toronto FC in MLS https://t.co/0z2fSDprwD
— Sherman Hunter (@SDKHunter) 7 December 2016
Colorado Rapids (2) vs New England Revolution (14)
The Rapids surprised all of us as they finished last in 2015 and yet came second in 2016 in the Western Conference – all thanks to the goalkeepers, Howard and McMath coupled with the brilliant defensive unit consisting of Sjoberg and Burch. We had good performance from Cronin, Azira, Powers and Hairstone in the middle. Gashi, K Dole and bargain basement Badji did a good work at the front.
In all honesty The Revs were competing with Chicago for the last spot. The result was they finished second last in the East. Their problem was at the back. Therefore they did a bit of shopping and we’ll see new faces like Antonio Delamea from Slovenia and Benjamin Angoua from the Ivory Coast, both centre backs. The team will still have Farrell, Tierney, Nguyen, Rowe, K Kamara and Agudelo in the battle.
D.C. United (10) vs Sporting Kansas City (8)
United finished at respectful 4th position in the East. They were the draw masters after Orlando. Nevertheless they were knocked out by NYRB in the playoffs. Their defence is represented by Kemp, Boswell and Birnbaum. The midfield is held by Sam, Nyarko, Sarvas and Franklin. The front was held by Mullins who I find a bit inconsistent.
It wasn’t the best season for Kansas. Somehow they made it to the playoffs but got eliminated after the first game. Their strong defence is held by Abdul-Salaam and Medranda. You will find in the middle Espinoza joined by the assist magician Feilhaber 13 plus 7 goals. The main striker is Dwyer with 16 goals and 3 assists. They have been busy in transfer window this year and have bought very experienced winger Gerso Fernandes, Latif Blessing, another attacking winger, the returning of Soony Saad after spending two years in Thailand and the Spanish defensive midfielder Illie Sanchez.
Houston Dynamo (19) vs Seattle Sounders FC (7)
Like the suffering Chicago, The Dynamos finished bottom in the West. With only seven wins it wasn’t a happy season for them. That’s why they decided to splash some cash and bring fresh legs. In defence we will see Leonardo and DelaGarza from LA, Remick from Seattle and Adolfo Machado who arrived from Deportivo Saprissa. The new addition in midfield is the Colombian Juan Cabezas. New face for the front will be Vicente Sanchez, Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto. Of course the likes of Anibaba, Alex, Garcia and Manotas are still here.
It wasn’t the best start for the Sounders but later in the summer everything changed after some tweaks in management. They improved their game and finished fourth in the West. That wasn’t all, they won the MLS Cup beating Toronto on penalty for the first time. That was mostly down to the summer signing Nicolas Lodeiro and the return of Torres. Sadly their veteran hero Dempsey suffered heart problems and missed big part of the season. The good news is that he has been given all clear and expected to be back. Apart from these two the great Frei, Marshal, Jones, Alonso, Roldan and Morris will see Harry Shipp coming from Montreal and Will Bruin from Houston.
San Jose Earthquakes (17) vs Montreal Impact (11)
It wasn’t the season The Quakes expected finishing second last in the West. It was a roller-coaster at most of the time. We can start with their legend Chris Wondolowski who is great but I find quite inconsistent. The GK Bingham, defenders Bernardez and Wynne, midfielders Dawkins and Godoy had their moments of glory. The new guys arrived are the Dutch striker Danny Hoesen, the Panamanian defender Harold Cummings, Marcos Urena who might be used as a spare wheel more likely and the Albanian Jahmir Hyka. Let’s see what the newbies can do. Note that this team will play at home in the first two rounds.
The Impacts is another team with many ups and downs in the last season. They just couldn’t impress with their performance on the road with just three wins. Saying that, the squad have good players in the names of Bush, Ciman, Oyongo, Oduro and everyone’s favourite Piatti who ended up with 234 points producing 17 goals and 6 assists. Their star Didier Drogba has left and the only significant signing for now is Chris Duvall from NYRB.
Orlando City SC (15) vs New York City FC (4)
Orlando was another team which didn’t fulfilled the expectations of their fans. They were close but couldn’t make the playoffs after all. It was a Merry go round for them all season with glimpses of hope now and again but nothing spectacular in the end. Their star player Kaka was mostly out injured. For me the most impressive was Larin with 14 goals and 3 assists. The signing of Will Johnson from Toronto might be one of the best as this versatile midfielder can help them. They also revamped their back line with Jonathan Spector from Birmingham City, Donny Toia from Montreal and the goalkeeper from NYCFC Josh Saunders.
This will be the third season for the New York City boys. They joined the league in 2015 and finished 17th. But a year is a long time and they ended second in the East in 2016. Sadly our great Frank Lampard who wasn’t much welcomed at the start and then became a hero, announced his retirement. The club reacted quickly and brought the Finnish versatile midfielder Alexander Ring who has a good experience in various European teams. The departure of Saunders made NYCFC to go and get Sean Johnson from Chicago who spent many years there.other new signings are Yengel Herrera from Manchester City, John Stertzer from RSL and maybe the best one Maximiliano Morales as a designated player from club Leon. We’ll still have the oldies Pirlo, McNamara, Harrison and who can ignore the great David Villa with 23 goals and 3 assists?
David Villa—2016 MLS MVP ???????? pic.twitter.com/1Vgw589IbC
— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) 6 December 2016
Atlanta United FC (New) vs New York Red Bulls (3)
Well, there we have it. Atlanta, the new kids on the block against the winners of the Eastern Conference, it can’t get more excited. Unlike the other new arrival Minnesota, Atlanta is expected to do well. They didn’t waste time and money to bring some great players for their first season. The centre of attention will be the English forward Kenwyne Jones with 100 goals behind his back including 40 in the EPL. He will be joined by Miguel Almiron and Yamil Asad. In the midfield we will find German Kevin Kratz and another English player Chris McCann who was born in Ireland but played for Burnley and Wigan. The core in defence will be Miles Robinson with the support from Anton Walkers, Greg Garza and Leonardo Pirez. Mears from Seattle, Parkhurst and Loyd will bring the experience in this strong back line.
And The Bulls, the wild boys who finished first in The Eastern Conference and then got knocked out early in the playoffs. They do have two outstanding players in the likes of the assist king, Sacha Kljestan (19) and the goal master of all times, Bradley Wright-Phillips (24) in the previous season and another 46 in the three before this. Take that. When you add players like GK Robles, defenders like Collin and Felipe and Grella in midfield you simply can’t overlook a team like this. No fresh news yet around the transfers since captain McCarty was sold to Chicago but I am sure there will be some soon.
— NY Red Bulls News (@NYRedBulls_News) February 16, 2017
Vancouver Whitecaps (16) vs Philadelphia Union (13)
The Whitecaps had a season to forget. Finishing second in 2015 we all expected them to be up there but instead they only managed third last in the Western Conference.
Notable players: In defence, The greatest goalkeeper Ousted didn’t have the greatest of a season but he is still a good asset for the team. The other two defenders are Waston and Harvey. In midfield, Bolanos and Laba managed to hold the play to some extent. With the departure of their best striker in the summer Rivero and Barnes who had a poor season, the team will look up to the new signing Yordy Reyna from Red Bull Salzburg Austria and Tianjin Teda loanee, Fredy Montero.
The Union had a turbulent season and were up and down for the most of it. They like to win and then surprisingly lose. They will start their campaign against a team which had a horrible season. Notable players: Defence- Rosenberry, Midfield- Pontius and Barnetta, Forward- Sapong.
New arrivals: Defence- Giliano Wijnaldum from Holland, Haris Medunjanin from Israel, Oguchi Onyewu a native player born in Washington DC. Midfield: Adam Najem from the NYRB academy.
Forward: Jay Simpson from the English League One Leyton Orient. The American Fafa Picault from Germany FC St Pauli.
Notes for your Diary
The information above is right at the time article was written. The transfer window is still open and many players are moving to new teams and many new players are still signing. For daily updates please check the MLS Soccer Transfers page.
My Rules League
It has been decided that the Rule for this season will be Newbies Only. There are plenty of them, see above for the new transfers and we have two brand new teams. Please make sure you stick to the rules because every team will be scanned by Wanton and me, the wrong ones will be removed.
The code to join is: 5220-1218
DEADLINE: 04.03.2017 at 9.30 PM EST-05.03.17 at 02.30 AM GMT
Best of luck to all FFF Managers.