This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.
MLS contests remain robust after DraftKings saw strong interest last week, and there is more money to be won this weekend! With international duty throwing a wrench into some MLS teams' plans, we'll dig deep to find the best matchups to exploit and the best cheap fill-ins on the main five-game slate. Any questions about your lineups, feel free to send 'em my way on Twitter @dfsMLS.
7 p.m. EDT
The Galaxy have nearly as many points in their past six matches (11) as DC United do all season (14). They've definitively turned a corner, even while missing pieces, and it's largely due to the revival of Giovani dos Santos. Gyasi Zardes is slowly improving his performances on the season as well and Romain Alessandrini remains a stellar offseason acquisition. Things are looking up for Los Angeles. United are once again fearing an extended absence for Patrick Mullins, and struggling to find answers without him offensively. They may currently be the league's worst team and will hope that the upcoming summer transfer window brings some reinforcements.
F Giovani dos Santos ($7,700): Gio dos Santos has five goals and one assist in his last four matches. The past three of those matches have all been on the road, so there is little reason to worry about a trip to the nation's capital. His confidence is sky high at the moment playing just behind Gyasi Zardes, and Romain Alessandrini provides some of the best service in the league for GDS to get into great scoring positions. The Galaxy suddenly have an exciting and energetic attack, and dos Santos is producing at a far better rate than a sub-$8,000 option. If he has a good international break following this match, you can bet he won't be priced this low upon return.
GK Jon Kempin ($4,500): With Brian Rowe injured and Clement Diop on international duty, Jon Kempin will strap on the gloves for Curt Onalfo's Galaxy. Kempin may not be a familiar name, but he has experience with both the US U-23 National Team and spent some time in the senior team camp as well previously. It was a bit of a surprise that Sporting Kansas City let the promising young keeper go after six seasons with the team. All of this is to say that this isn't your typical third string keeper, and DC United are not your typical MLS team. They might be the poorest attacking MLS team, with just one goal in their past five matches! Los Angeles are far from an impenetrable wall, so Kempin will be tested, but consider it a golden opportunity for save points.
Romain Alessandrini ($10,400) remains a consistent threat week to week and deserves to be one of the highest price players in fantasy soccer. Cheap fullbacks with potential abound in this match, with Bradley Diallo ($3,600), Ashley Cole ($3,500), and possibly Chris Odoi-Atsem ($2,700) all looking like fine options. Jose Guillermo Ortiz ($4,800) should start at forward for United and needs a breakout performance if he wants any chance of sticking with the team long-term.
Red Bulls may sit comfortably ahead of the Impact in the MLS Standings, but their form could not be more different. New York has a goal differential of minus five in their past six games while Montreal have a plus three tally. The Canadian side have been much improved since adding another dangerous attacker in Blerim Dzemaili. New York, meanwhile, haven't found a single attacking player who can stand out this season. While they remain fantasy options, it's only because of their impressive history the past few seasons.
M Blerim Dzemaili ($7,600): Picking between Alessandrini and dos Santos above was difficult. One is more consistent, the other is cheaper. In the case of Ignacio Piatti versus Dzemaili, one is both cheaper and more consistent. Piatti can't be discounted as an incredible scoring option, but at home, against a struggling Red Bulls side, I'm taking the clinical set piece taker almost every time.
M Daniel Royer ($5,100): Royer will never be a top tier fantasy play, but he's the type of hard-working and reliable player that we can target against weak fullbacks. Ambroise Oyongo isn't a weak fullback, in fact he's been a fantasy force of late, but he has been known to eschew some defensive responsibilities in favor of attacking opportunity. Royer is a savvy winger who will expose Oyongo if he gets overly exuberant about pushing up the wing, and he'll free up some salary to play other elite attacking options.
Sacha Kljestan ($7,600) seems to be a glorified jugs machine at this point, only lobbing the ball into the box on corner kicks. His chance creation continues to be steady, but one shot on target in five games is simply unacceptable. Kemar Lawrence ($4,800) remains one of the Red Bulls best attacking players, from the fullback position! I'm a big Bradley Wright-Phillips fan, but let's be honest, we can pay $8,500 for a decent scoring chance from him, or $4,900 for a pretty equal one from Montreal forward Anthony Jackson-Hamel.
Toronto continue to be one of the best teams in Major League Soccer despite a slew of injuries and international absences. Sebastian Giovinco returned to action on Wednesday and looked fairly healthy and lively, but with this match on turf (granted, very nice turf), his starting spot is in question. We'll probably get to see the lineup before contests begin, so keep an eye on Seba's status. If he starts, he very well may still be worth the price, but don't expect a full 90 minutes. Xavier Kouassi will miss the match for New England which can only help open up the midfield for a TFC side without Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.
F Jordan Hamilton ($4,400): I love the potential of a Jordan Hamilton play should he start alongside Giovinco. By purchasing the cheap forward instead of the recovering star, we largely limit our risk but get a good chunk of the goalscoring potential. Hamilton has shown plenty of quality in his young career and anyone getting service from Victor Vazquez and Giovinco deserves consideration if you ask me!
M Lee Nguyen ($7,700): Nguyen has been a model of consistency this season and the fact that his price remains under $8,000 would be shocking if memories of dreadful Nguyen stretches weren't in most fantasy players' minds. Oftentimes, MLS fantasy is all about riding the hot hand, however, and with a goal or assist in six of seven matches, Nguyen fits that bill. Michael Bradley's absence makes this an even more enticing matchup for New England's maestro at home.
Victor Vazquez ($6,800) is every bit as good as Nguyen and cheaper. I wouldn't sweat about playing him on the road, with or without Giovinco. Benoit Cheyrou ($3,400) is a defensive midfielder but could provide great value if you need a cheap option to round out your roster. Kei Kamara is on a great run, but I have little interest in goal dependent players against Toronto's defense.
This may appear to be an inviting matchup for Real Salt Lake with both Dallas centerbacks missing from the lineup and Kellyn Acosta away with the US National Team. However, after a 5-1 defeat to Houston midweek while Dallas rest, I'm still confident in Dallas getting a result. Recent fantasy favorite Jefferson Savarino also will miss, which may give castaway Yura Movsisyan another chance to prove his worth to Mike Petke.
F Maximiliano Urruti ($8,800): The pressure is on Real Salt Lake's maligned defense, and a matchup with Maxi Urruti is likely not what the doctor ordered. The Argentine forward is playing the best soccer of his career, already two-thirds of his way towards last season's goalscoring total. Dallas may be missing Acosta, but all-star playmaker Mauro Diaz will likely make another substitute appearance and Dallas still have fast and dangerous wingers to create. We've looked at a number of value plays thus far, leaving Urruti's lofty price tag to be of little concern. If Houston can drop five on RSL, Dallas and Urruti should at least tag them for a couple.
D Hernan Grana ($5,200): On a day with plenty of great fullback options, Grana may fly under the radar. I think his attacking potential is at its highest point of the season entering this match, with Salt Lake on tired legs, already susceptible to the cross, and missing a key defensive piece in midfielder Sunny. Dallas will need some help in creating chances without Acosta, and I think that starts with activating their fullbacks. If you don't like Kemar Lawrence on the road, this is probably your next best option for the value.
Look for promising young forward Ricardo Velazco ($3,800) to get a chance on the wing against a depleted Dallas defense. Javier Morales ($4,800) may be on set piece duty in Acosta's absence if Mauro Diaz does not start.
I'm far from a Rapids fan, but I'm quite hesitant to rely on the Columbus attackers in this match. Having played Wednesday and now travelling to altitude, it's both difficult to predict who will start and how long they'll play. Colorado are notoriously one of the worst attacking sides in the league, but Columbus are on of the best at conceding and on fresher legs I can see the Rapids sneaking a couple in the net.
M Shkelzen Gashi ($7,500): Without Gashi, Colorado would be a wasteland of offensive talent. The Albanian has been heating up since regaining his fitness and making all the players around him appear far more capable than they actually are. Despite Dzemaili, Nguyen, and the cheaper Vazquez all being alternative options for your roster, Gashi increasingly is looking like a must play option on this slate of games.
D Marlon Hairston ($3,600): After spending plenty of time on the attacking wing last season, Hairston has transitioned to a speedy and capable fullback in Colorado. The Rapids desperately need some support on the wing from their fullbacks in order to generate some attacking chances, and Hairston could step up to be that player. His box scores have been lackluster, but if Columbus come out flat, this is a very exploitable situation for Hairston. Fortunately, even a handful of points wouldn't be terribly disappointing since he comes in at such a cheap price.
Justin Meram ($8,000) deserves to be talked about as one of the best scoring wingers in MLS and he would be my favorite fantasy option if I targeted Crew players this weekend. Columbus are formidable enough that I think Zac MacMath ($4,800) will earn a handful of saves, and the clean sheet also is squarely in play. Finally, Ola Kamara ($7,400) is at a great price if you trust Columbus to prove me wrong in this third game in eight days.