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. In our third article of the series we take a look at the top points-scoring Midfielder from the 2017 season who will be playing in the MLS this season, which takes us to Western Conference side, Seattle Sounders. All aboard.
2017's best MLS Fantasy Goalkeeper & Defender?
If you haven't had a chance to read our first article, we provide analysis over Columbus Crew's number one, Zack Steffen of the Columbus Crew, and we also talk a little about some of the troubles that The Crew are going through as we approach the 2018 MLS season.
In our second article we look at central defender Leandro González Pírez of Atlanta United, who is one of many young Argentine players making their mark in MLS under the guidance of former Barcelona and Argentina Manager, Gerardo Martino.
You can read both articles by going to our MLS page by clicking here.
Seattle Sounders: An Introduction
With the MLS a matter of weeks away, this is our first real opportunity at The Hype Train to have a look at the league's Western Conference, and there's no better place to start than with Seattle Sounders.
Brian Schmetzer's side, who were added as an expansion side to the league for the 2009 season, have been on nothing but an upward curve since their debut season. In each of their 9 MLS seasons, the Sounders have managed to reach the MLS Cup conference semi-finals as a minimum.
If you're unaware of how MLS pans out, we've plotted the route to success out below.
How does the structure of MLS work?
1 - The 23 clubs are split into two divisions, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference
2 - The top team at the end of the regular 34 game season when both divisions are combined wins The Supporters' Shield
3 - The top 6 sides from each Conference advance to the MLS Cup, which is referred to as a post-season
4 - The top 2 teams from each division advance straight to the conference semi-finals
5 - The 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th place teams in each Conference play in a Knockout Round, with 3rd playing 6th and 4th playing 5th - with 3rd and 4th at home in a single-legged game
6 - The Conference semi-finals takes place over two legs, home and away.
7 - Each Conference then has a final, which is also over two legs, home and away.
8 - The winning team from each Conference final plays in the MLS Cup final
Historically speaking, the Eastern Conference has largely dominated the league's standings in recent years, with Sounders side finishing lower in the overall standings when both league's are combined at the end of the season, than where they finish in the Western Conference.
As an example, Seattle Sounders finished the 2017 season in 2nd place in the Western Conference. They ended on 53 points in the Western Conference, and had a better goal difference than Portland Timbers, who ultimately won the Western Conference. In MLS, teams with more victories finish higher, which is why The Timbers finished top of the division. Seattle's 53 points though had them finish 7th overall when combined with the Eastern Conference.
Seattle found themselves with the 3rd best defensive record in MLS last season, conceding 39 goals in 34 regular season matches, and scored 52 goals, which was the 3rd best record in the Western Conference (but the 10th overall).
The Sounder's have never finished below 4th place in the Western Conference, or below 7th in the overall standings. As seen above on the infographic, Seattle have finished top of the regular season once, winning the Supporters' Shield in 2014.
The club has also been victorious in one MLS Cup final, winning the trophy in 2016, and appeared in the most recent 2017 final, losing 2-0 to Toronto.
Seattle capitalised on the Western Conference's apparent inability to keep pace with the East, and have made themselves an MLS staple. They place at CenturyLink Field, which is also home of NFL franchise, Seattle Seahawks, and have made themselves a powerhouse heading into their 10th season as a club.
Premier League fans will know of Clint Dempsey, who is one of the Designated Player's at Seattle, and potentially of Goalkeeper, Stefan Frei, who has been playing his trade in MLS since 2009.
2017's Best MLS Fantasy Midfielder: Nicolás Lodeiro (Seattle Sounders)
Seattle also boast the top points-scoring player from the MLS Fantasy season in 2017 who will be treading water again in the league in 2018. Nicolas Lodeiro is one of Seattle's Designated Player's, and is listed as a Midfielder in MLS Fantasy for the 2018 season.
Lodeiro, who is an international with Uruguay with 53 caps, is heading into a third MLS season having joined from Argentine giants, Boca Juniors.
The $11.0 million priced play-maker is Seattle's Number 10, with Brian Schmetzer's side favouring a 4-4-2 (or a 4-4-1-1) formation, with Lodeiro behind a central forward.
In the 2017 season, Lodeiro scored 7 goals and assisted 12 times from 33 appearances, averaging 9.55 points per game across the season. Lodeiro amassed 67 shots on goal, and was fouled 37 times, as well as receiving 5 yellow cards and a lone red card throughout the regular season.
The nearest competitor within Seattle's ranks is 22 year-old central midfielder Cristian Roldan, who scored 224 MLS Fantasy points, having scored 6 times last season, with 3 assists.
Top 5 MLS Fantasy Midfielders (Who will be playing in 2018)
1) Nicolás Lodeiro (Seattle Sounders): 315 points from 33 appearances
2) Romain Alessandrini (LA Galaxy): 298 points from 30 appearances
3) Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers): 286 points from 32 appearances
4) Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls - moved to Orlando City for the 2018 season): 270 points from 33 appearances
5) Albert Rusnák (Real Salt Lake): 262 points from 31 appearances
Lodeiro's appeal, and that of all Midfielder's is greatly aided by the Bonus Points system which the MLS indicated. The top midfielder's above outrank any Forward or Defender in the overall points chart, and even though the MLS Fantasy site does not provide a breakdown of bonus points earned for each player, we get the impression that the involvement of attack-minded Midfielder's weighs heavily when bonus are accumulated.
The 28 year-old is at the height of his powers in MLS, and with an opening day encounter against LAFC, the latest expansion team to MLS, it could be a very profitable opening week for Seattle's Fantasy topping Midfielder.
How does a Midfielder accumulate Bonus Points in MLS Fantasy?
The official MLS Fantasy game does bonus points differently. Instead of in the Fantasy Premier League, which sees players rewarded based of BPS (Bonus Points System), players in MLS don't miss out on bonus and are awarded on the following criteria:
4 clearances = 1 bonus
2 blocks = 1 bonus
4 interceptions = 1 bonus
4 tackles = 1 bonus
6 recovered balls = 1 bonus
Error leading to a goal = -1 bonus
3 crosses = 1 point
3 key passes = 1 point
Every big chance created = 1 point
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.
You can read more of our latest news from in the FPL, Premier League, and around the footballing world on our Football page by clicking here, or by clicking the image below.
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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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