MLS Fantasy season is upon us, and with the game's official release The Hype Train will be taking a look at some standout performers from last season in each of the four positions, from Goalkeeper to Forward. We take a look at the top points-scoring Goalkeeper from the 2017 season who will be playing in the MLS this season, which takes us to Eastern Conference side, Columbus Crew. All aboard.
2017's Best MLS Fantasy Goalkeeper: Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew)
First on the docket is the Goalkeeper position, and of all the active Goalkeeper selections heading into the 2018 season, Columbus's Zack Steffen finished as as top MLS Fantasy keeper.
Columbus play in the hotly contested Eastern Conference, finishing 5th last season (and 5th in the Overall table too), with Steffen the mainstay shot-stopper in between the sticks for The Crew, playing every regular season and MLS Cup fixture. The top six places in each Conference ensure a birth in the MLS Cup, with Columbus advancing all the way to the Conference final against Toronto.
Columbus beat Atlanta in the Knockout Round of the MLS Cup, with Steffen making 8 saves during normal and extra time (the KO round is just one game, with home advantage going to the teams who third and fourth in the league table), and saved 2 penalties during penalty shoot-out to help The Crew advance to the Conference semi-finals. Over two legs in the semi's, Columbus beat David Villa's New York City FC 4-3 on aggregate, before losing a two-legged Eastern Conference final to eventual winners Toronto by an aggregate of just 1-0.
The 22 year-old keeper managed 121 points in MLS Fantasy last season over the 34 game regular season, with Columbus conceding 49 goals, more than any other side from the Eastern Conference who qualified for the MLS Cup. The 121 points earned is the best score made by a Goalkeeper, but is only ranked 158th in overall rankings, with our initial thought believing that Fantasy game being very harsh on the potential for Goalkeeper's.
The 2017 season was Steffen's breakout season, with the keeper recording 16 wins and keeping 9 clean sheets, as well as recording 98 saves.
With the stats favouring Steffen's involvement for another good run in 2018, could there be anything that could derail Columbus's momentum heading into the 2018 season?
Are Columbus Crew equipped for the season ahead?
Columbus Crew pride themselves on being the oldest team in MLS. They're based in central Ohio, but if their owner Anthony Precourt has his way, there is a strong chance that The Crew could end up relocating the club to Austin, Texas in 2019.
The off-season has been turbulent for The Crew's fans, who have had to come together to try and make their voices head in order to keep football in the Columbus area.
Statistics that are in favour of Zack Steffen sound great on paper, but we think that politics might take precedence over the football this season if off-field matters continue to take importance at the club.
Gregg Berhalter, who is widely accepted to be a popular Head Coach amongst The Crew's supporters, has also had a turbulent winter with players coming and going.
The club have signed right-winger Pedro Santos from Braga in Portugal, and have made Artur's loan move from Sao Paulo into a permanent move. The Crew have also signed 34 year-old central midfielder Ricardo Clark on a free transfer from Houston Dynamo, signed left-back Milton Valenzuela on loan from Newell's Old Boys, and brought in left-midfielder Mike Grella from Colorado Rapids in a trade.
The biggest transfer in to Columbus has been the signing of Gyasi Zardes from LA Galaxy, which was part of a trade to the Galaxy, with the Los Angeles side picking up Ola Kamara. Kamara scored 34 league goals across two season's at The Crew, and the loss is viewed as a big miss ahead of the new season.
It's been a winter of a lot of change, so when discussing MLS Fantasy options, it looks very naive of anyone to say that The Crew are nailed on for points in the early weeks, especially as Berhalter's side travel to Toronto for the opening game.
Below you can read a very good insight into Columbus's trouble heading into the 2018 season by Massive Report. If you embedded tweet does not work, you can read the article by clicking here.
The 2018 MLS Fantasy Season
MLS returns on Saturday March 3rd 2018, and you can join our very own MLS Fantasy League by clicking here, or alternatively by using the league code RDPUAHR2 whilst on the MLS Fantasy site, or checking out our pinned tweet on our @HypeTrainMLS Twitter account. We'd love to have you aboard for the ride.
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The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015, specialising in the Fantasy Premier League (#FPL), providing beautiful graphics and weekly insight for hopeful players attempting to climb ranking tables. We are also occasional media reviewers, with a keen interest to review movies, live sport, and professional wrestling.
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