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Fantasy MLS: Saturday Cheat Sheet

JD Bazzo

JD is a contributing soccer writer at RotoWire. He is a proud Pittsburgh native, purveyor of fantasy sports, and likely the first Penn State Basketball fan you've ever met.

MATCHES (EDT)

7:00 p.m: New York Red Bulls v. Montreal Impact
7:00 p.m: D.C. United v. Orlando City
7:00 p.m: Vancouver Whitecaps v. Colorado Rapids
9:00 p.m: Houston Dynamo v. Portland Timbers
9:30 p.m: Real Salt Lake v. FC Dallas
10:30 p.m: San Jose Earthquakes v. Sporting KC

ODDS REPORT



EXPECTED CORNER TAKERS

New York Red Bulls: Sasha Kljestan
Montreal Impact: Marco Donadel, Ambroise Oyongo
D.C. United: Lloyd Sam
Orlando City: Matias Perez Garcia
Vancouver Whitecaps: Christian Bolanos
Colorado Rapids: Shkelzen Gashi
Houston Dynamo: Cristian Maidana
Portland Timbers: Jack Jewsbury, Diego Valeri
Real Salt Lake: Joao Plata, Luke Mulholland, Jordan Allen
FC Dallas: Mauro Diaz
San Jose Earthquakes: Simon Dawkins
Sporting KC: Brad Davis

PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS

GOALKEEPER

Chris Seitz, FCD at RSL:
There are some glorious road goalkeeper options this week. Two similarly priced ones are Seitz and Jake Gleeson. We often like to pick on Houston, so I probably donít need to persuade you to consider Gleeson against their listless attack, but Iíll make my case for Seitz for $100 more on DraftKings as well. The last time Real Salt Lake hosted FC Dallas, they came away with a 1-0 victory, but the circumstances are different this time around. RSL are facing absences from their most dangerous offensive players: Joao Plata, Yura Movsisyan and Javier Morales. While Burrito Martinez has been a great complement along the front line, Iím not certain he can carry an attack with Olmes Garcia, Luke Mulholland and Jordan Allen in support. The MLS Supporters Shield front-runners should grab another three points this week and extend their lead for the second trophy in their treble chase.

Tim Howard, COL at VAN: Itís do-or-die time in Vancouver, but with just four goals in their past six games (also during crunch time), Iím thinking they continue to drift out of the playoff picture and into a tumultuous offseason. On the other side of the field are Howard and the Colorado Rapids, who have allowed just five goals in their previous six games. Vancouver have legitimately not figured out their forward position for over two years. Pedro Morales is 25 percent as influential as he was during his debut season. The team has just been flat-out poor and they realistically would benefit from playing a similar style to the San Jose Earthquakes, play on the wings and just lump it into the box. I canít think of a greater indictment of an attack. Colorado need to win to chase a top-two seed in the Western Conference and earn a first-round bye, and I see zero reason not to lean on Howard as a cheap option in your defense. Iíd consider him even if he was one of the most expensive choices.

DEFENDER

Steve Birnbaum, DCU v. ORL:
He carries a hefty price for a center back, but Iím not recommending just ANY centerback. Birnbaum has three goals on the year and realistically could have double that. When United have a set piece, heís right in the thick of it, and often the main target. When DC get a clean sheet, he is instrumental. This week, they need him to be all of that and more as they host Orlando City, who are in a dead even draw on both points and games in hand in the playoff standings. A win for either team puts them into the sixth spot and bumps New England. While I donít foresee Orlando getting shut out, anything is possible with Bill Hamid in goal, and I think Birnbaum should at least grab a handful of peripheral points and a couple of shots. If you donít want to pay top prices for a defender, Birnbaum could be a reasonable compromise.

Rafael Ramos, ORL at DCU: Ramos is healthy and he needs to be starting. Jason Kreis had his first chance to use the promising Portuguese right back last week in Columbus but kept him an unused substitute behind Kevin Alston. After battling multiple hamstring injuries, Ramos seems fit and should he earn his first start since May, heíll find his way into plenty of my lineups. The attacking potential, and sneaky chances of an Orlando clean sheet, are pretty appealing for the cost. Fortunately, weíll know right away if Ramos is in since DC and Orlando kick off the night. If Ramos had been playing all year, his price would be in the mid-$5,000 range on DraftKings, so take advantage of the discount.

Jordan Allen, RSL v. FCD: Letís try this one again. Allen came recommended last week as the likely replacement for Javier Morales and ended up sitting on the bench in lieu of Luke Mulholland. This week brings more Real Salt Lake question marks, which theoretically means a better chance of Allen featuring. He was effective in his substitute appearance and over 90 minutes, heíd make for a tremendous value. Regardless of where he starts, be it on the wing for Plata or the puppetmasterís position in place of Morales, we get to use him in our defender spot and reap the rewards. Itís worth noting that the matchup is difficult, and for all the times weíve rolled Allen out due to his positioning on the field, heís rarely come through. At just 21 years old his game continues to improve, though, and Iím willing to keep rolling the dice at this price.

MIDFIELDER

Kaka, ORL at DCU:
Picking a top tier midfielder always feels like splitting hairs, and I usually just default to Mauro Diaz these days since heís in top form. I bet you guys are tired of reading about him though, so let me try and persuade myself to go with Kaka instead. Dallas have a somewhat comfortable lead in the Supporters Shield race, and while their matchup is decent this week, itís never easy traveling to the altitude of Rio Tinto Stadium. I always like FC Dallas, but this isnít a week where I like them extra. I do, however, love Orlando Cityís outlook on the road. The Lions need a win in DC, especially after an embarrassing 4-1 home loss to Columbus last weekend. If Kaka doesnít show up in a big way, Iíll be shocked. Sure, this is one of those ďstar player wonít let his team downĒ type of calls, and maybe itís lazy analysis, but thereís something to certain players performing their best when their team needs them. Few others in the league embrace that responsibility like Kaka does for Orlando, and I doubt he lets the team drop another game in this weekís match of mammoth playoff implications. Also consider teammate Matias Perez Garcia for $4,500 less.

Sacha Kljestan, NYR v. MTL: Two options make sense to me this week: stacking the midfield and stacking the Red Bulls. In the middle of that simplistic daily fantasy Venn diagram is Kljestan. While you could stack him with Bradley Wright-Phillips, who is on a streak as impressive as his 27-goal season, Kljestan also provides a cheaper route into the New York attack if you canít stomach spending so much on both of them. That cheaper route also comes with a higher floor. New York have the highest odds to win on the day as the bookmakers catch up to recognizing the dumpster fire in Montreal, and Kljestan has a goal or assist in five of his past seven matches. He should be priced with the other $10,000 plus midfielders on DraftKings, but we can take advantage of the small savings in an extremely favorable matchup.

Mauro Rosales, FCD at RSL: Somewhat surprisingly, FC Dallas have been trotting out experienced playmaker Mauro Rosales more and more of late. The oft-injured, but inarguably effective Argentine is a skilled crosser, and while his pure quickness has faded as his career hits itís twilight, he still knows how to get into space and find Dallasí dangerous attacking threats. He grabbed two assists in 60 minutes in his last match and he and is a lock for a handful of crosses even in limited action. Iím not certain Rosales starts, but fortunately Luke Mulholland in the same match would make for a decent pivot at the exact same price and position. Without many obvious value plays in the midfield, you may need to have patience and grab whomever gets into this intriguing Dallas and Salt Lake match.

FORWARD

Dom Dwyer, SKC at SJE:
Do we even know what a Dwyer hot streak looks like? The Kansas City star doesnít often string together multiple top-notch performances, but as Sporting Kansas City have been fighting for a playoff berth, and Sydney Leroux Dwyer gave birth, Dwyer has been in great form. With two goals, one assist and 15 shots in his past two matches, Iím wondering if even noted San Jose Earthquakes-at-home conspiracy theorist Andrew Laird can fade Dwyer this week. A Sporting victory would go a long way towards making sure the Quakes donít catch them for the sixth and final playoff position, and also maintain an important cushion over a Seattle side with two games in hand. Itís time to see if this team has an extra gear that we havenít gotten a glimpse of yet in 2016, and if they do, Dwyer will be the play.

Fanendo Adi, POR at HOU: Adi is among the most in-form forwards in Major League Soccer. With goals in four of his past five appearances, he appears to have returned to early season form and now gets to play a generous Houston Dynamo defense. If BWP and Kljestan make for a good stack, Adi and Diego Valeri might be a close second. As pointed out in this weekís RotoWire Soccer Podcast, the biggest difference between midseason slump Adi and on-fire Fanendo is that heís taking more shots, 20 over the past five matches to be exact. If he puts another five towards goal, I like the odds of at least on going in. Teammate Darren Mattocks has also been playing well on the wing in place of disappointment Lucas Melano, and is just $3,800 on DraftKings. Many will grab him for the savings, which may mean less ownership for a promising Adi.

Henok Goitom, SJE v. SKC: Outside of Mattocks, the lowest tier of playable forwards appears to sit right around the $5,000 range. We have Mauro Manotas, Masato Kudo, Jacob Peterson, Jack McInerney and even Blas Perez or Carlos Ruiz slightly lower. While many of these players wonít start, Iím tempted to budget $5,100 and decide who Iím taking as my night goes on. After the 7:00 p.m. matches, do I need a safe couple of points? Ok, maybe Jacob Peterson or Olmes Garcia would be best. Do I need a lot of points to place in a tournament after the 7:00 p.m. matches? Ok, maybe Iíll roll the dice and hope Goitom starts. While he hasnít quite matched the standards of Swiss League MVP Shkelzen Gashi, Goitom has been doing his best to represent the Swedish League MVP trophy since joining San Jose a little over a month ago. He attempted four shots in his only start for San Jose, a road match in Columbus, and after two matches on the bench Iíd hope Dom Kinnear recognized the need to give him another chance. The San Jose attack is positively stagnant, and Goitom could be just the spark that they need in a must-win fixture. He also might be the late game hammer we need to shock a tournament leaderboard!

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. JD Bazzo plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: OfficerBo, Yahoo: DeNirosDinero.