This article is part of our The Armband series.
If someone would have told me that Dallas, a team with 13 goals in its previous three home matches, would lose 4-0 at home to Vancouver, a team with a minus-7 goal differential on the road, things could've been different for my top captain pick last week. Instead, Maximiliano Urruti was a complete bust. While others like Sacha Kljestan and Sebastian Giovinco came through, the absence of Urruti on the score sheet hurt the most.
Round 22 brings things back to normal with 11 matches (and the midweek All-Star Game), so no one will have to go out of their way to captain Justin Meram because he has two games. It's back to the usual strategy of backing teams most in form and in favorable spots (aka biggest favorites). Maybe most importantly, the team also has to have a fantasy relevant player as San Jose (v. Columbus) is in a decent spot, but I'm not willing to captain any of its players, whether it's Chris Wondolowski or Florian Jungwirth.
Montreal (v. Orlando), Philadelphia (v. Dallas), Portland (v. Los Angeles) and Real Salt Lake (v. Houston) take the cake in terms of best matchups. The Impact aren't in form, per say, but any time Blerim Dzemaili and Igancio Piatti are at home they're worth monitoring. I'd also put money on Piatti returning to the starting XI after coming off the bench in the last two. The two have started together just four times this season, yet Montreal has nine goals in those matches, which surpasses the team's average for the season (20 matches, 30 goals).
Of course, that doesn't mean they're a safe bet, and the same can be said for C.J. Sapong and the Union. Sapong has two goals and two assists in his last two home matches, while the Union have won their last three at home without giving up a goal. And Dallas is coming off a bad performance, but I wouldn't say they are a bad team on the road, with 11 goals scored and only nine allowed in nine games.
The better options will be Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi against the Galaxy or Joao Plata against the Dynamo. Valeri will be one of the more popular choices because he's one of the more consistent fantasy players with 11 goals and eight assists. And despite holding Seattle scoreless last match, I'm still wary of the L.A. back line having allowed six goals in the last two away games.
Plata gets some consideration because RSL has looked like a different team in its last four matches, with eight points and 13 goals. Plata has four goals and an assist over that period, never falling below nine fantasy points. The Dynamo are near the top of the standings, but still have a minus-12 goal differential on the road.
As for everyone's favorite captain, Giovinco is on the road this week against a team at the bottom of the standings. Coming off another exceptional performance, he'll probably be the top captain play as D.C. has allowed the most goals (42) in the Eastern Conference. David Villa is in a precarious position, facing the Red Bulls, the league's hottest side with four straight wins and back-to-back clean sheets. Kljestan could be a decent pick (or Bradley Wright-Phillips) with NYC FC's inconsistent back line, but I wouldn't be as confident giving them the armband as recent weeks.
Somewhat under the radar could be the Fire as they come in having played three straight matches on the road. They're at home against the Revs, who have three points in 10 road matches, while Chicago has 28 points from 10 home matches. Nemanja Nikolic is the first name on the list even after some road struggles as David Accam isn't a guarantee for the starting XI having come off the bench in the last two. Bastian Schweinsteiger could be looked at, but his upside isn't as huge as Nikolic's up front.
For the defensive minded, Joao Meira from Chicago and Matt Besler of SKC (v. Atlanta) will be some of the top options, but given the unpredictability of clean sheets and the matchups this weekend, I'm not overly confident in defensive captains.