MLS Fantasy Manager week 19 seems like a slow week for the league but it’s ripe with opportunities for big points. There are plenty of big names missing for the Gold Cup as well as many suspensions and injuries but this isn’t anything new for this time of year. The Summer months are always brutal in Major League Soccer–who’s going to come out on top?

TOP FORWARD PICKS

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David Villa, New York City F.C., $10.9

David Villa is finally playing up to his Designated Player tag and large salary. Villa had a rough start to his first Major League Soccer season due to injuries and unfamiliarity with his teammates. He’s been magical during the past month with the exception of a rough match against New York Red Bulls a couple of weeks ago. Villa and N.Y.C.F.C’s current run of form has as much to do with the weakness of their opponents as much as their growing quality. N.Y.C.F.C. are playing one of those weaker opponents, Toronto F.C. (who happen to be missing a few stars to the Gold Cup), at home this weekend. The Toronto cracks are just going to be too large for Villa who will slip through to tally big numbers this week.

Allison Long-The Kansas City Star

Krisztian Nemeth, Sporting Kansas City, $8.6

Krisztian Nemeth has been all over the world during his young career but seems to have quickly adjusted to Sporting Kansas City and MLS with surprising positive results. Most pundits and fans would have picked Dom Dwyer, his strike partner, as being the one who would have the better offensive numbers but Dwyer has been relatively quiet during league play this season. S.K.C. travel to Vancouver this weekend to play a usually tough Whitecaps team that is missing key players to the Gold Cup and injuries. Nemeth and S.K.C. are practically at full strength even without Graham Zusi while also having a deeper roster. I don’t think this will be a low scoring match which means plenty of opportunities for both teams and even more Nemeth.

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Mike Grella, New York Red Bulls, $6.2

Mike Grella has taken advantage of the opportunity that New York Red Bulls have given him. His numbers don’t reflect his output because he doesn’t get the opportunities higher-priced Bradley Wright-Phillips receives but he definitely capitalizes on the few he does get. Grella’s output at his low price tag compared to the lack of output of his higher priced strike partner means better value to your roster so you can add fantasy dream teamers who cost more. New York Red Bulls play struggling New England Revolution at home this weekend. Both teams are playing ugly at the moment but have still managed to stay close to each other on points and in the playoff race. New England’s struggles will be too much for them to overcome this weekend and Grella will be able to capitalize on the situation for quality points.

TOP MIDFIELD PICKS

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Mauro Diaz, F.C. Dallas, $9.8

Mauro Diaz has been exquisite for F.C. Dallas since their five game road trip ended. He’s posted 22 fantasy points in his past two games at a time when his team are missing players to the Gold Cup (Dallas has five players called up for the Gold Cup, most in MLS). F.C.D’s road woes are misleading because they had as much to do with injuries as they with being away from home for so long. I would’ve picked other players during the past month but now that Diaz and his teammates have had time to recharge their batteries at home with two wins I think they’ll do great on the road in Orlando. Orlando will have midfield issues without their suspended star Kaka so Diaz will have less to worry about and can attack without regard.

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Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Jacobson, New York City F.C., $5.7

Andrew Jacobson has been the surprising lynch pin for the New York City F.C. midfield this season. New York City have made some big splashes with their Designated Player signings but they have yet to arrive on the scene. Frank Lampard could debut this weekend but I would be flabbergasted if he started so soon, ahead of Jacobson, or for significant minutes. Andrew Jacobson is more a defensive midfielder than an attacking one but he still finds way to rack up points with defending bonuses in big ways. His point tally will benefit the most from Toronto missing its midfield stars. Jacobson’s style of play is the type than can negate Giovinco’s with its physicality and roughness. He’s going to boss the midfield the way a true defensive midfielder does and will probably pick up points for a clean sheet.

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Cristian Maidana, Philadelphia Union, $9.0

Cristian Maidana is a gamble this week because he still had yet to return from his wedding in Argentina as of a couple of days ago. It would be a bigger surprise if he didn’t make it back so I feel comfortable recommending him even though Philadelphia aren’t exactly climbing up the table. Philadelphia’s record doesn’t reflect Maidana’s quality of play. He’s put up consistently strong numbers since week seven. The Union welcome the hot Portland Timbers to town this weekend but Philadelphia have this great ability to trouble any team that plays there. Portland also hasn’t been spectacular on the road this season either. Maidana matches up well with Portland’s midfield who still has the occasional issue stopping attacking midfielders. Maidana will have a great game no matter how many minutes he plays this weekend.

TOP DEFENSE PICKS

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Zach Loyd, F.C. Dallas, $7.6

Zach Loyd has been F.C.D’s most reliable player for the past few years and the same can be said for this season. He can play anywhere on the back line and can even step in to a defensive midfield role in a pinch. The F.C.D. defense will benefit the most from Orlando City’s absenses because they aren’t just missing Kaka but Cyle Larin, too. Orlando won’t be completely helpless without their stars but they will definitely have less bite. Loyd could easily pick up an attacking bonus to go with multiple defensive bonuses and a probable clean sheet.

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Victor Bernardez, San José Earthquakes, $7.5

San José or Houston are both having a hard time this season but Houston already dropped a game to San José in Houston. San José has been good at home so I don’t foresee Houston coming in and suddenly finding their scoring boots against a solid defense. Victor Bernardez helps anchor the San José central defense with Clarence Goodson so either one of them would be good choices this weekend. They’re both capable of clearing any cross that comes in to the box and can out-muscle any attacker who gets in to the middle. Bernardez gets my pick this week for his price tag as much as his quality of play. He isn’t much cheaper than Goodson and they aren’t separated by much in their points output but his cheaper price tag is enough to make a difference on a roster during a slow week.

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Damien Perrinelle, New York Red Bulls, $6.8

Perrinelle has been a surprise this season. He’s an older player who hasn’t had a stellar career in France but has come over to MLS with tons of experience to play in a quality central defense. He’s a great partner and mentor for the young Matt Miazga, leading a back line with his knowledge of the game. N.Y.R.B. welcome New England Revolution to Red Bull Arena this weekend and it couldn’t come at a better time. New York started out hot but has since cooled, fighting for scrappy wins but not playing nearly as well as they did at the start. Only one point separates the two teams and New York plays better at home than on the road. Look for N.Y.R.B. to take advantage of New England’s road struggles and Perrinelle to get both defensive and clean sheet bonuses.

GOALKEEPER PICK OF THE WEEK

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Luis Robles, New York Red Bulls, $5.5

Luis Robles has been one of the top goalkeepers in MLS this season even with the team’s occasional poor form. I’ve already mentioned more than once in this article how bad New England has played recently so I won’t go over it again. Robles tends to stay on his line more than he comes out so he may not pick up a defensive bonus but he will pick up bonuses for the amount of saves he makes. Couple that with the probability of a clean sheet and he makes a smart pick for this weekend.

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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