Fantasy Manager Week 4 has arrived for Major League Soccer and brings with it FIFA sanctioned international fixture dates. Many high scoring stars are missing while they play for their respective countries in friendlies and qualifiers. Check  your rosters for that little red “i” or a red box around their name—if you see this, time to make a sub. MLS Fantasy Manager only lets you make 2 transfers per week without a -4 point penalty but gives you the option for a one time Wild Card week where you can overhaul your roster without consequences. This is a great week to use your Wild Card option. Also, don’t forget to check out the MLS Injury Report to see who is out and for how long. There is no Friday night game this week so rosters are not due until Saturday at 3 p.m. EDT.

Top Forward Picks for Week 4

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Octavio Rivero, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, $8.7

Rivero is the only forward available this week with 20+ points and he comes with a price tag lower than most big name scorers in the league so he isn’t bad to keep around to save cap space. He’s had strong showings against some weaker teams with goals in each of his last three games. He’s not going to net a hat trick this week, not with the way Vancouver has played or against a stingy Portland Timbers defense, but he’s been a boon for them up top and has been consistent on set pieces. The offense tends to get ramped up for these rivalry games, especially Cascadia Cup games, and I expect Rivero to stay on form because of it.

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Tesho Akindele, FC Dallas, $8.1

Tesho has been one of the keys to an offense that has outscored all opponents this season. He’s getting service in the box from his electric midfield and has been a thorn in the side of all the back lines he has faced. FC Dallas is missing his strike partner Blas Perez this week so look for him to be the main target going towards goal. It also helps that FCD is welcoming Seattle Sounders into Frisco this weekend because their matches have been high-scoring affairs. Don’t be surprised if this is a five or six goal game the way these two high-speed offenses play. If his current form isn’t enough reason to pick him up, his price tag is. He’s a steal at $8.1 for his top-notch production and current role for his team.

Obafemi Martins, Seattle Sounders, $11.2

Martins may come with one of the heftier price tags in the league but he’s worth every penny. Martins is a consistent goal scorer and always contributes to the offense when he isn’t putting it in the back of the net himself. He is missing some key talent around him but the Sounders have plenty of great players to fill the gaps. They don’t read him as well as Clint Dempsey does but they’ll get him the ball when he needs it. I don’t usually recommend competing forwards but he always seems to bring his A-plus game against FC Dallas. If this match-up will be the high scoring affair it usually is then expect Martins to add some tallies to the score sheet.

 

Top Midfield Picks for Week 4

Jose Villarreal, Los Angeles Galaxy, $6.3

I’m not surprised with Villarreal’s output so far this season but it’s impressive how well he has slotted in to an already stacked LA Galaxy team full of top talent. LA Galaxy travel to DC United this week to play a tough-as-nails midfield that is not afraid to play physical against such a young star. He’s shown a lot of poise this season and I don’t see his numbers dropping off at all this week. His price tag proves that even the number crunchers at MLS didn’t think he would bring much to the table but he’s shown up on the weekly dream team every Monday this season. With most of the top points earners ranging between $9-$12, he’ll offset the high price of any top midfielder and add to their points tally. Even if he doesn’t keep up his pace so far, you could do much worse for a back up.

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Fabian Castillo, FC Dallas, $9.8

Castillo has been simply electric this season. He’s matured in to the best wing player in the league. His pace on the ball cannot be matched and his decision-making in attacking situations has improved so much that he seems like a different player from just two seasons ago. He had a rough first week but has made up for it with two stand-out performances against tough opponents. The Sounders just don’t have the pace to keep up with Castillo on the wings anymore so look for him to wreak havoc on Seattle’s defense. If he doesn’t get points for scoring, he’s surely going to pick them up another way.

Benny Feilhaber, Sporting Kansas City, $9.2

Feilhaber has been one of the few bright spots, if not the brightest, for SKC this season. His deft crossing and aggressive gameplay have always been a boon for any team–fantasy or otherwise. His ability to make key passes and assists almost always picks up an attacking bonus on top of a great ability to get back to defend. SKC may have moved to a stronger conference but they’re still a quality side, Feilhaber is the main reason for that quality. Look for Feilhaber and the SKC midfield to use their experience together as an advantage against a New York City FC midfield that is still figuring itself out.

 

Top Defensive Picks for Week 4

AP Photos

 

Steven Beitashour, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, $7.7

Beitashour has been a great defender since he’s joined the league. He plays lights-out defense every week and contributes to the attack with his speed and great passing ability. It will be tough with Portland Timbers coming to town but he shines in rough games. His decision-making is always spot on and usually results in points for him and his team. Consistency is key to any fantasy team and he brings that for a great price. Picking him up now before his price goes up will save any fantasy manager from a big headache later in the year.

Darrell Lovell MLSsoccer.com

 

DaMarcus Beasley, Houston Dynamo, $7.1

DaMarcus Beasley revitalized his career switching from a midfielder to a defender. He’s still one of the fastest flank defenders in the league even at the age of 32. He brings a high possibility of attacking points to an already solid defensive game. Houston welcomes Colorado Rapids to town this week who have yet to score a goal this season. Colorado’s attack has been deplorable this year and I don’t see that changing against a tough Houston defense at home. Any Dynamo defender would be a smart pick up this week but Beasley easily outpaces most of the Rapids’ squad which means he’ll wrack up attacking bonuses to go with a probable clean sheet bonus.

Photo: SportingKC.com

Ike Opara, Sporting Kansas City, $7.2

This week is a tough one for any defenders who have producing clean sheets. The FC Dallas-Seattle Sounders game will likely have multiple goals which means the best chance for a low scoring game for a top defender will be SKC-NYCFC. Ike Opara has been on fire this year making key stops when needed and contributing to the attack when the team breaks forward. He’s just as able to put a pass on a dime as he is to make a key tackle. He’s the key target on most SKC set pieces, if they win one anywhere near NYCFC’s penalty box then look for Opara as the target for a Feilhaber free kick.

Top Goalkeeper Pick for Week 4

Photo: Gerry Kahrmann , PNG

 

David Ousted, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, $5.5

He may not have the most points this fantasy season but I think he’s the best shot at big numbers for this weekend. Chris Seitz has been in great form for FC Dallas but he’s got his work cut out for him against Seattle. Josh Saunders has been on point but I think Sporting Kansas City is going to tally at least one goal against New York City FC. Ousted is a smart goalkeeper with a stellar defense in front of him. It’s going to be a hard-fought game against Portland but Vancouver is at home. I think he’s going to come up big for the Whitecaps this week and if he doesn’t keep a clean sheet then his defending bonus will make up for it.

 

Bargain Pick-Ups

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Victor Ulloa and Ryan Hollingshead, Midfield, FC Dallas, $6.5 and $5.5

I’m bundling these two together only because of their similar roles for the FCD central midfield. Ulloa has improved with every game since given his chance when Mauro Diaz went down with injuries last season. He’s not picking up big points yet but FCD is injury prone and I think his solid play will be a constant this year. Hollingshead is young and he doesn’t get the minutes but he gets results. Every time he makes an appearance, be it as a starter or a sub, he makes an impact. That’s saying a lot for a player who wasn’t even sure he wanted to play professionally. Pareja is showing more faith in him week by week. When he subbed in during week two to replace a floundering Diaz, he delivered quickly. At their prices, they’ll help fill out any big name, top money midfield for a starting or a substitute role without taking up too much cap space.

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Jairo Arrieta, Forward, DC United, $6.6

Jairo Arrieta was traded to DC United in the offseason by Orlando City SC who picked him up from Columbus Crew SC in the expansion draft. That means a couple of teams saw something in him worth fighting over. I like the way he plays, he picks up some scrappy goals with the occasional gorgeous goal from outside the box. He won’t give you Clint Dempsey or Robbie Keane numbers by the end of the season but he’s a quality forward with an ability to pick up some big points when he makes an appearance against the right opponent. His price tag is more reflective of his fitness than his quality but if you want to play with three forwards, two of them being high-priced, then he’s a smart pick up for that third spot or as a substitute.

Cesar Gutierrez covers MLS for MFST. For more MLS news and rumors,  follow him on Twitter @namcopunk or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/namcopunk

 

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