7:30 p.m: Philadelphia Union at New England Revolution
7:30 p.m: Montreal Impact at New York Red Bulls
8:00 p.m: Vancouver Whitecaps at FC Dallas
8:00 p.m: Portland Timbers at Houston Dynamo
8:00 p.m: Chicago Fire at Sporting Kansas City
8:00 p.m: DC United at Minnesota United
8:00 p.m: Columbus Crew SC at Real Salt Lake
8:00 p.m: Colorado Rapids at San Jose Earthquakes
10:00 p.m: Seattle Sounders at Los Angeles Galaxy
Saturdayís MLS action brings us nine matches, with eight kicking off within 30 minutes of each other. That should result in 16 of the 18 lineups being available to see before contests begin, which is a breath of fresh air for daily fantasy players during a time of the year when player rotation kicks in, more young players begin playing meaningful minutes, and the transfer market begins to reshape rosters. With a plethora of options available in one of soccerís biggest slates of the year, letís boil it down to a few crucial players for fantasy consideration.
Matt Lampson, CHI at SKC ($4,200): Perhaps the easiest way to pick a player at daily fantasyís most controversial position is to start at the bottom of the price list and work your way up until you find the first keeper that doesnít make you nervous. Your research should delve a little deeper than that, but it serves as a great starting point as you compare all of the costlier options. This week that keeper is Lampson. On the downside, Lampson is playing on the road. On the plus side, Sporting Kansas City only have one goal in each of their past three home matches and just traded their best forward in Dom Dwyer. Their second most dangerous attacker, Gerso Fernandes, is suspended for this match. Chicago has given up the third-fewest goals in Major League Soccer this season. Sporting are a well coached side that wonít be bullied at home, but Lampson stands out as one of the slateís safest and most affordable options while also bringing the upside that a road keeper facing additional shots tends to have.
Joevin Jones, SEA at LAG ($6,900): In most instances, it would pain me to recommend a defender who breaks the bank to this degree. Luckily, this slate doesnít have Sebastian Giovinco, David Villa and many of the other costliest options in MLS fantasy. In order to fit Jones, weíll likely need to leave Romain Alessandrini out of our lineups, a decision that isnít that painful given the wealth of other options and a matchup against a good Sounders defense. Jonesís teammate Nicolas Lodeiro is also expensive and will be harder to fade, but itís absolutely feasible and, in my opinion, preferable so that we can have the biggest advantage at a defender spot since crossing machine and free-kick savant Chris Tierney was in his fantasy prime. Jones has been downright dominant both defensively and offensively this season and has returned at least 19 fantasy points in three of his last four matches. I understand that paying nearly $7,000 for a defender is a tough pill to swallow, but the drop off from Jones to other defenders should dwarf the difference between Lodeiro or Alessandrini and an $8,500 midfield option.
Ryan Hollingshead, DAL v. VAN ($3,900): With Hernan Grana and Maynor Figueroa both suspended due to yellow card accumulation, Hollingshead is a virtual lock to start for Oscar Parejaís talented FC Dallas. After a traumatic offseason injury, the versatile winger has worked his way back to fitness, with three full 90-minute performances this month. The last match, away to Montreal, saw Hollingshead take four shots and send in three crosses. This match is at home against a Whitecaps team that is vulnerable from the wings and will almost surely have trouble handling the forecasted temperatures in Dallas. If Dallas handle this match as well as they should, thereís potential for three to four goals scored and a defensive clean sheet. Iíll take the $3,900 defender on that team, and Iíll also strongly consider a minimum-price Reggie Cannon if he earns his first start on the opposite side of the defense.
Danilo Acosta, RSL v. CLB ($3,500): Acosta projects to start at left-back once again while Demar Phillips recovers from a hamstring injury. Another versatile player who can line up at multiple positions, the sophomore player hasnít proven to be the stat accumulator that I think heís capable of, but he has earned an assist in each of the last two matches. The more I look at this matchup for Real Salt Lake, the more I love their chances of dominating Columbus. The Crew played in Philadelphia just a few days ago, and the heat and altitude of Rio Tinto Stadium will not help rejuvenate them. Columbus will also miss two of their starting three central defenders, putting them on the back foot against a Salt Lake team that has shown a ton of energy lately. Acosta has made some good overlapping runs to join the attack lately, and I think heíll have plenty of opportunities to do more of the same in this match.
Albert Rusnak, RSL v. CLB ($8,600): The number of upper-tier midfield options on this slate is a fantasy playerís dream but a fantasy writerís nightmare. Fantasy machines like Lee Nguyen and David Accam jump out as great midfield values who also have forward eligibility. Talented playmakers such as Sacha Kljestan and Mauro Diaz are hitting their strides and cost even less. I have to plant my flag with just one expensive option, though. Rusnak edges out the rest of the pack by virtue of the aforementioned challenges facing Columbus this weekend. He can fit the Nguyen/Accam description above, but just as easily fit in among the Kljestan/Diaz grouping of midfielders. Joao Plata, Jefferson Savarino and Luis Silva offer a tremendous platform for Rusnak to play among and the speed and energy they have been bringing over the last few weeks is extremely encouraging. Even though RSL manager Mike Petke is suspended, heís the type of guy who can fire up his team from the shadows better than most of the coaches in the league are able to from the locker room or sidelines. Iíll be surprised if Columbus have what it takes to handle the RSL Iíve been watching lately, and that means Iíll be keen to get either Rusnak or Plata into a majority of my lineups.
Lloyd Sam, DCU at MIN ($6,000): It feels like only a few days since I wrote off Lloyd Sam as a fantasy option, but with last weekís 14 crosses in 35 minutes and a tussle with lowly Minnesota United looming, heís back on my radar. Both Minnesota and D.C. have been very poor this season, but Ben Olsenís United side have shown far more promise of late than Adrian Heathís in Minnesota. Itís worth mentioning that defenders Francisco Calvo and Jermaine Taylor will return from the Gold Cup to shore up some defensive woes, and Sam Cronin may also return. Additionally, D.C. United will be traveling to Minnesota the day of the match after a cancelled Friday flight. All things considered, I still think Sam makes for an intriguing alternative to Diego Fagundez, Roland Lamah, Haris Medunjanin and others in the same price range. Minnesota have simply been that bad lately.
Tommy Thompson, SJE v. COL ($4,000): The value midfield spot is crowded this week, with the likes of Sam Nicholson ($3,500), Ian Harkes ($3,300), Ilsinho ($3,100) and more all making good cases for consideration. However, San Joseís matchup and newfound attacking style of soccer makes Thompson my favorite of the bunch. Since the coaching change, Thompson has averaged more than 10 fantasy points in his four matches and looks lively every time he is near the ball, whether it be finding space for shots or intercepting passes in the midfield. Colorado are still a decent defensive side, but far from the dominant team we saw last year in the back, and theyíve allowed 10 goals in their past six road matches. While Thompson should make for a good value play, watching lineups will be crucial when pinpointing your low-cost attacking option, and luckily this slate of games lends itself well to preparing for just that.
David Accam, CHI at SKC ($8,300): Thanks to the combined midfield/forward designations, we also have a ton of options in the top tier of forwards. Previously mentioned players like Lodeiro, Nguyen and Plata should all be in consideration for your first forward slot, but Iíll nominate another aforementioned player as my favorite: Accam. Despite good defensive form from Sporting, I donít believe theyíll have nearly enough pieces to handle the Fire attack. Matt Besler and Graham Zusi will be returning from the Gold Cup while Ike Opara is recovering from a concussion. Sporting will likely struggle to consistently keep possession of the ball, too, and lack offensive punch sans Dwyer and Gerso. Accam really just needs a split second to punish opposing defenses, and I suspect he will have plenty of chances to do exactly that. The combination of a consistently high floor from Accam this year and potential for huge outbursts like his recent 51-point outing make $8,300 a very palatable price to pay.
Michael Barrios, DAL v. VAN ($6,500): Barrios is another player with dual-position designation, another quick and dangerous winger. While his fantasy consistency is not that of Accamís, Barrios brings a cheaper price and a better matchup. He is also quietly leading the league in assists. Vancouver have a distinct disadvantage going up against speedy wingers like Barrios and Lamah in the Texas heat, and talented central figures like Maxi Urruti and Mauro Diaz will ensure that extra help canít be sent to the fullbacks nearly as often as it will be needed. Better goal scorers like Christian Ramirez and Jordan Morris cost only a little extra, and so do better accumulators like Jefferson Savarino, but exposure to the Dallas attack should be on of the top priorities this week and Barrios proves much more affordable than Urruti, while still able to occupy a forward spot.
Luis Silva, RSL v. CLB ($4,700): Count Silva as another player I never expected to be considering this season. Like Barrios, Silva gives us an additional forward option into an attack that feels obligatory to own pieces of this week. Iím looking for more consistency with Silva, and it would be great if he wasnít behind Rusnak and Plata on most set pieces, but his performance last match was so notable that I feel fairly confident touting him as a value forward. Other options in the same range or cheaper abound: Deshorn Brown, Michael Salazar, Diego Rubio, Yordy Reyna, Michael de Leeuw and likely a few more as lineups come out. While Silva leads the pack for me, the rest of your lineup will likely determine what teams youíre left needing attacking coverage with. If youíre in a pickle as lineups start to come out, please feel free to check in on Twitter (@dfsMLS and we can parse out where best to go for fantasy success.