MLS Week 5 Fantasy Breakdown


Ahh the double-dip: great with chips and dip, even better with MLS Fantasy. For the first time this season, we have teams playing two games in a week, and what a treat that will be for fantasy owners of Real Salt Lake and (to a lesser extent) Montreal Impact players. Twice as many games means twice as many opportunities for points, and with proper planning it can lead you to fantasy victory, where it otherwise may not have been possible.

Even if you decide against adding a player with double the average scoring potential, the deadline for all transfers this week is 8:45PM on Wednesday, so be sure to get your changes in on time. Continue reading below to see which players you should be focused on for Round 5.

Two to Add:

Fabian Espindola – Forward, Real Salt Lake ($9.6M)

The first chance to "double-dip" this season comes in Round Five, as both Real Salt Lake and the Montreal Impact play twice in the span of four days. While Montreal is struggling in its inaugural MLS campaign, RSL is off to a great start this season, and coming off a dramatic 3-2 win in Portland. Several RSL players would make good additions to your team, but Espindola offers the best potential reward (for $1.1M less than Alvaro Saborio).

Espindola has been as reliable as ever to start the season, contributing two goals and an assist in the team's first four games. The Argentine forward was left on the bench until the 70th minute against Portland, in a move that was almost certainly meant to keep Espindola fresh during this busy stretch of the team's schedule. The move paid off in the end, as he set up teammate Kyle Beckerman's spectacular 93rd minute winner.

The bottom line: With a game against a weak Montreal side, followed by a rivalry clash with Colorado, you'd bet on Espindola to score at least once, and have a big impact overall.

Graham Zusi – Midfielder, Sporting Kansas City ($9.6M)

As crazy as it may have sounded a year ago, when KC was in the basement, and LA was being touted in some circles as the "best ever", this weekend's match-up is leaning heavily in KC's favor. The Galaxy's defense is in disarray without Omar Gonzalez, and Sporting KC can't stop winning. At the center of Sporting's success has been Zusi, who leads MLS with five assists thus far.

The midfield maestro has been directly involved in all but one of the team's goals this season, and with a weakened Galaxy defense coming to town, the goals are likely to flow again this weekend. If New England's rag-tag bunch can travel to the Home Depot Center and score three goals, then there is no telling what the trio of C.J. Sapong, Kei Kamara, and Teal Bunbury can do at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.

The bottom line: Rather than playing the guessing game among Sporting's strikers, choose the playmaker who will be involved in the action regardless of who scores.

Two to Drop:

Steven Lenhart – Forward, San Jose Earthquakes ($9.5M)

Lenhart is a great example of a player whose on-field contributions may not always carry over to the fantasy spectrum. The Earthquakes forward is about as nasty an opponent as there is in MLS. Just ask the Seattle Sounders, who dealt with about 67 minutes of his relentlessly physical play last week, before Quakes boss Frank Yallop spared them by replacing him with "Lenhart-lite" Alan Gordon.

The Sounders game was a perfect microcosm of what to expect from Lenhart this season, as he clashed constantly with defenders, was issued a yellow card, and even earned his team a soft penalty (thanks largely to his antics.) But for all his trouble, Lenhart is simply not the consistent goal-scorer you need at the forward position in fantasy. In four starts this season, he has no goals or assists, and has more yellow cards (3) than shots on goal (2).

The bottom line: While he might give opposing defenders fits, at $9.5M his lack of scoring will have the same effect on his fantasy owners.

Josh Saunders – Goalkeeper, LA Galaxy ($7.0M)

In case it wasn't clear already, it's time to purge your roster of any non-attacking Galaxy players. That obviously extends to Saunders, who at $7.0M is tied with RSL's Nick Rimando for being the most expensive 'keeper in the MLS fantasy game. Unfortunately for Saunders and his fantasy owners, the LA goalkeeper no longer enjoys the sturdy defense that helped him earn a share of the "most expensive" distinction.

Even if the Galaxy are able to bring in a player to plug the gaping hole in central defense (George John, anyone?), it is likely to take some time for the defense to grow accustomed to the change. And if they can't find a way to revitalize the back-line, then the 3-1 home loss to the lowly Revs may be only the beginning of a surprisingly long season for Saunders and the defending champs.

The bottom line: There is no sense in spending $7.0M on a goalkeeper whose team is reeling defensively. Save your money and upgrade elsewhere.

Bargain Watch:

Kirk Urso – Midfielder, Columbus Crew ($4.6M)

If you have never heard of the Crew's rookie midfielder then you are not alone. Even the faithful members of the Nordecke (Columbus supporters groups) may not have noticed his presence yet, but Urso has quietly played the full 90 minutes in all three of his team's games this season. After a four-year career at UNC, which included a 2011 NCAA title, Urso dropped to the MLS Supplemental draft this winter, and had to earn a place on the team in pre-season.

Since then, he has done enough to become a regular in Robert Warzycha's early-season squads. Though he isn't a flashy attacking player, Urso provides a solid, calming force in the Columbus midfield, and has helped the team keep two clean sheets already this season. With a young squad around him, Urso is likely to remain a factor for the Crew as the season progresses.

The bottom line: Look elsewhere if you're in search of goals, but if you need a solid plug-in at a great price, then Urso is your man.

Get more great soccer stuff over at US Futblog.


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