MLS play resumed with a full slate of matches this past weekend after a three-week hiatus due to international matches and U.S. Open Cup contests. As a special bonus, whoever runs the MLS Fantasy game has decided to grant three Free Transfers for this week, allowing Fantasy GM’s everywhere to shuffle their squads as the season nears the half-way point.
The additional Free Transfers present a great opportunity to make significant changes to your squad, without incurring the four-point penalty that exists most weeks when completing more than one Transfer. (Note: all transfers must be made by Wednesday at 8:45pm EST.) In order to take full advantage of this opportunity, it will be important to examine both the short and medium-term prospects of several players, and their clubs.
First and foremost, you have to make sure that you select players whose teams will be playing as much as possible over the summer months. Due to the unbalanced schedule, some clubs will play twice as often as others over the next ten weeks.
Here’s a look at the busiest teams over the next ten rounds:
Montreal Impact (11 games), Toronto FC (11), Houston Dynamo (10), Sporting Kansas City (10), LA Galaxy (10)
Of these teams, several players stick out as excellent options for your fantasy team. Add these guys, and you can keep them in your lineup for the foreseeable future.
Brad Davis – Midfielder, Houston Dynamo ($9.6M)
In classic MLS fashion, the Dynamo were on the road for the first two months of the season as they waited for the grand opening of BBVA Compass Stadium. Now that it is open, the club has a full slate of games at home, and do not have a bye week for the rest of the season. In addition to the loaded schedule, the Dynamo are back to leaning on Davis, the league-leader in assists in 2011, who has finally completed a full recovery from the quadriceps injury he suffered in the playoffs last season. Davis may not score as much as several other elite midfielders, but his consistency will provide your team with solid output every week.
Felipe – Midfielder, Montreal Impact ($7.2M)
The Impact have been a pleasant surprise this season, and Felipe should get a lot of credit, as he has been one of the expansion team’s main attacking catalysts. The Brazilian playmaker took some time to get acquainted to the league, but has found excellent form in the last five weeks. Despite the relatively small sample size, his quality has been apparent, as he’s played a major role in Montreal’s attack in recent weeks, including scoring the first-ever MLS goal at Stade Saputo. Add him now before his price goes through the roof as more people discover him.
Despite a somewhat sloppy performance from the US and an inability to put the home side away, the Yanks left Guatemala with a much needed road point thanks to Clint Dempsey's first half strike. The point leaves the Americans tied for first place with Jamaica after two matches in Group A.
The top two teams in each of the three CONCACAF groups that make up the semi-final round will advance to the final qualifying stage. As a result, the Yanks are in no real danger of not advancing to the final hexagon qualifying round despite the moans and groans you may hear from the fans.
Don't get me wrong I agree with the US fan base. Jurgen Klinsmann and crew better shape up quickly or a slip up in the final qualifying round is not out of the question. If they continue this poor midfield play where the link between them and the front-line is non existent, teams will continue to break them down. Right now I put Canada and the US on the same playing field which isn't a good sign. Mexico isn't even in the conversation as El Tri would mercy the Yanks at the moment.
What We Learned.....
1. 4-3-2-1 Formation Not Optimal
2. Mo Edu Not Getting It Done
3. Still Have Room to Grow, Don't Panic Yet
Analysis of the 3 points to come after the break....
Just when it seemed like the USA had turned the page and Klinsmann’s principals were starting to really click, the Stars and Stripes turned in a rather uninspired performance against their CONCACAF rivals, a 0-0 draw vs. America Junior.
The final 90 minutes before World Cup Qualifying were meant to tie up the lose ends. Instead, it only created more questions.
First, who will pair Bocanegra in the back? Goodson did okay but the centerbacks still got split on a few occasions. Gooch looked behind the pace against Brazil and didn’t do enough for me tonight to cement his place on the back-line.
Secondly, did Castillo do enough to earn a place behind Fabian Johnson on the LB depth chart? His industry was refreshing, he got forward with aplomb and almost scored a wonder goal, but his final ball still needs work and he was lucky the assistant referee thought he saw a foul while the Tijuana defender got caught in possession.
The back-line is the biggest concern of the US team for me and despite all his experience, Cherundolo worries me against fast and clever attackers. At times DeRo looked like Neymar and Marcelo coming down the left hand side vs. Dolo tonight.no comments
The score-line was anything but just as the USA fell 4-1 to a young but very talented Brazil.
The US were on the wrong end of a controversial penalty, fell asleep twice at the back, and perhaps were unlucky the flag didn’t go up on Brazil’s fourth (no, it was onside). Had it not been for a crossbar, some tremendous saves from Brazilian goalkeeper Rafael and maybe one or two calls going their way, however, we would be talking about a very different game.
"Obviously, I think 4-1 was maybe not a score line that was indicative of the overall game," US goal scorer Herculez Gomez said after the game. "I think for long stretches of the game we kind of imposed our will on them and we were unfortunate not to get some [goals]. I think the main difference was that they were clinical in front of goal and we weren’t. If I put some of those away, then it’s different game."
The USA continued playing a high pressure, fluid and dynamic possession game, which they displayed in their victory over Scotland. The fact that the mentality didn’t change in the face of Brazil is a huge step up for this program. Their confidence on the ball was apparent. No better example then Fabian Johnson's juke move on Oscar to work his way out of the corner early in the first half.
With that said though, it was times when the US were too comfortable on the ball.
The penalty, although very unlucky, originated from a sequence in midfield when Michael Bradley was too casual on the ball. Other players were also culpable, as the US need to realize when to play with that utmost confidence and when to move the ball on a bit quicker.
The biggest difference between the Scotland and Brazil match was that Brazil was always going to break the US’ high pressure and the biggest question Jurgen Klinsmann wanted to know (this is why he schedules these friendlies against world powers) is how the US would cope when their resistance was broken.
For the most part it was stellar. The US recovered well and didn’t look overrun in midfield. The right side of defense was where the USA struggled with Steve Cherundolo beaten on both of Brazil’s goals that came from open play. Not all the blame can rest on the Hannover man as he was not helped out by whichever player of the interchangeable midfield three failed to track back far enough to help double in the corner.
The other thing to take into account, as Grant Wahl pointed out to me in the tunnel was that he was dealing with Neymar and Marcelo, both of whom are a level above world class.no comments
3 thoughts following Brazil's 4-1 triumph over the Americans
1. Herculez #1 US Forward?
If Herculez Gomez did not open Jurgen Klinsmann's eyes tonight with his performance then I don't know what will. Gomez absolutely tore it up tonight. Gomez made the most of every chance he got, scoring an opportunistic goal to close out the first half and almost delivering on a few opportunities in the second. Yes, Gomez got good service from Michael Bradley and Fabian Johnson on a couple of occasions but Gomez got it done. In my eyes Gomez is the #1 US forward on the depth chart. Altidore has more potential and could create a bigger mismatch for the opposition but right now I'd take Herc. Herculez! Herculez!
2. US Found Klinsmann's Positive Flare
The 4-1 final score was a bit harsh on the Americans. Despite the mental mistakes in the back and countless marking errors that in the end resulted in the loss, the Yanks had a positive way about them. You cannot ignore these significant errors but the US did embody the "Klinsmann Way" throughout this match, especially in the second half. A shift in mentality was noticeable. The US closed down with numbers, quickly gained possession in the midfield, and countered intelligently. Bradley pulled the strings, Fabian created havoc down the wing, Gomez found pockets of space, and overall the US had a positive mojo connected to their game. As a result, the US camp's optimism despite the lousy result is justified in my eyes.
3. Defense Exposed
The very beginning of the Klinsmann era was marked with the mantra, "the US can't score". Now all of the sudden defensive woes are to blame for the Yanks most recent loss, which makes a lot of sense when you look at the opponent who boasted the likes of Neymar, Hulk, Marcelo, Pato, etc. Age is definitely catching up to the Americans as Bocanegra and Cherundolo looked a step slow at various points in the match and Oguchi Onyewu overall put forth a very sub-par performance. Gooch did improve as the game went on but it wasn't enough to prevent the young Brazilians from finding the net.
Bottom-line: Onyewu needs to be the best US defender and return to his optimal form if the Yanks are going to have any chance in major competitions against the World's best teams.