MLS Fantasy Manager week 31
MLS Fantasy Manager week 31 is riddled with playoff implications. Some teams are fighting to clinch or avoid elimination while others are trying to pad their playoff standings. This round will be a barn burner all weekend and a few stars will have to rise to the occasion for their clubs.
TOP FORWARD PICKS
Cyle Larin, Orlando City S.C., $5.9
Cyle Larin had an amazing game last week when he bagged a hat trick and the Major League Soccer rookie scoring record. Larin hasn’t been consistent this season and it’s hard to follow that type of performance the following week but Orlando City are fighting for their playoff lives at home. Larin isn’t City’s only scoring option but he’s their best outlet from the midfield and the wings towards the goal. It will be a knock-down, drag-out fight for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and Orlando City cannot do it without Larin. He’s going to come away with more than six points from this match. If he doesn’t then Orlando City is done for the year.
Robbie Keane, Los Angeles Galaxy, $12.1
Robbie Keane and the Los Angeles Galaxy are nigh unstoppable at this point in the season. Their designated players are getting hot right now as the entire team is clicking together. All three L.A. DP’s scored in Dallas last weekend but Robbie Keane has been the most productive this season. The Galaxy are on the road this week to face Seattle Sounders who hit a wall after a great start. Seattle is hobbling to the finish line while L.A. streaks towards it. Look for Robbie Keane to have at least an eight point match this week.
Kei Kamara, Columbus Crew S.C., $10.0
Kei Kamara is in the lead for this season’s Golden Boot with 22 goals. He isn’t a lock to win it but he’s going to get closer to sealing it with more goals this weekend. Columbus is going to have a hard time winning on the road against New York Red Bulls but that doesn’t mean Kamara won’t come away with a goal. It will be a physical game with both teams fighting for goals but New York Red Bulls are missing their best big defender and Kamara is one of the best goal scorers in the air. Kamara will take advantage of the missing Matt Miazga to add to his tally.
TOP MIDFIELD PICKS
Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto F.C., $13.5
Sebastian Giovinco is two goals behind Kamara for the Golden Boot but leads the league in assists this year. There must be something wrong with the league if he doesn’t win the MVP this year. Toronto F.C. are barely holding a playoff spot with a must-win match this weekend against the tired Philadelphia Union who lost the U.S. Open Cup Wednesday night. Philadelphia is having a mess of a year, even with their deep U.S.O.C. run, and haven’t found a way to hold onto points. Giovinco is going to eat their midfield and back line for breakfast with plenty of attacking bonuses to go with more goals and assists.
Michael Barrios, F.C. Dallas, $8.1
Michael Barrios is part of a young F.C. Dallas team built from the ground up in their developmental system. Coach Oscar Pareja has leaned heavily on the versatility of Barrios in the F.C.D. attack. Barrios is mainly an outside midfielder but has been slotted into the role of a paired or lone forward up top. He’s going to be used in the lineup this weekend but I am not sure which role as he matches up well against Houston’s less physical outside defense. The Texas Derby is always a hard-fought match for either side and there are playoff standing implications with this match since F.C.D. could clinch a playoff spot with a win and San José loss or draw. Dallas loves to win at home and hate to lose to Houston so Barrios is key to their success this weekend with attacking bonuses, probable assists, and a very likely goal.
Lloyd Sam, New York Red Bulls, $9.6
The New York Red Bulls-Columbus Crew S.C. match will be fast paced and high scoring. Both defenses will be abused by the skilled attacks of each team. Lloyd Sam isn’t the main reason N.Y.R.B. have had the amazing season they’ve had this year but he’s been a key to their success. His speed and intelligence on the wing have played a role in many goals this year and that won’t change this weekend. Sam is more likely to contribute to the attack this weekend with multiple assists but that’s not necessarily a bad thing considering he will be a part of all the Red Bull goals.
TOP DEFENSIVE PICKS
Jorge Villafana, Portland Timbers, $6.3
It’s hard to believe that the Western Conference playoff race is as tight as it is but Portland could be on the outside looking in if they don’t pick up a win this weekend against visiting Sporting Kansas City. Sporting Kansas City will have tired legs in this match after winning this year’s U.S. Open Cup and Jorge Villafana will take advantage of that with his speedy wing play. He will pick up some attacking bonuses to go with defending bonuses. I don’t foresee this being a clean sheet for Portland but it won’t be a high scoring match either so those bonuses will make up for that.
Atiba Harris, F.C. Dallas, $6.5
Atiba Harris has somehow turned into the best option at right back for F.C. Dallas. It’s hard to see why he has worked at the position but he has. He’s not a particularly good defender and he’s not the fastest or best at getting back to cover when he attacks but his strong work rate has some how resulted in a stellar year. I doubt he’d be the first choice of any manager but I don’t see F.C.D. winning without him in the position at this point in the year. Oscar Pareja has a plan and Harris is integral to its success. Houston is going to have a difficult time scoring this weekend and Harris will be one of the reasons why. He’s going to contribute to the attack with his speed but will pick up his points defending and clearing. I don’t think it will be a clean sheet but he’ll make up those points easily.
Jamison Olave, Real Salt Lake, $8.2
Real Salt Lake can’t be eliminated from playoff contention this weekend but it’s hard to see them making it if they don’t win out. They could eliminate Colorado from the playoffs with a win or draw. Jamison Olave is one of the reasons Real Salt Lake are still alive even with their substandard season. He’s been a lynch pin on the back line as he’s kept things together for the defense all season. He doesn’t contribute to the R.S.L. attack much so he won’t see any attacking bonuses but his clearances and defending bonuses will make up for that. Colorado have to win this match to have any chance of staying alive but I don’t see that happening, even at home. Even if Colorado find a way to win this match, it’s going to be low scoring and I won’t be surprised if this is a one goal game. That still means plenty of points for Olave.
GOALKEEPER PICK OF THE WEEK
Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake, $6.4
Nick Rimando is stellar even in defeat. There have been games this season where his team has stayed alive only because of his effort. This match against Colorado sees both teams fighting for their playoff lives and it could come down to who has the better goalkeeper—hands down, it’s Real Salt Lake with Nick Rimando. There is plenty of room for drama and lots of shots on goal but I don’t foresee Rimando being unable to stop most of them. He’s going to come up huge for R.S.L. this weekend and keep his team alive in the process.
Cesar Gutierrez covers MLS for MFST, you can follow him on Twitter @namcopunk