MLS returns this weekend with 10 matches kicking off the 2018 campaign, and for many Fantasy players, we're nearing the business end of picking our teams. Ahead of Gameweek 1 we'll be looking at the best potential picks for the first week, especially if you're looking for an opening day boost to your Overall Rank. We start by profiling some Goalkeeper's who we think may be worth the money on the opening day. All aboard.
MLS Fantasy: Gameweek 1
For us in the UK, the first game of the weekend starts at 6pm, with current Supporters' Shield winners and MLS Cup holders Toronto FC going up against Columbus Crew.
Three teams will be missing this weekend, with Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, and New York Red Bulls, omitted from the discussion this week. You can check out the fixture list below.
You can also read all of our MLS Fantasy articles on our specialist page, by clicking here.
Goalkeeper Picks: Essential Options
Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew) - $5.5 million:
Despite playing away to Toronto for the first weekend of the season, The Crew are attracting our attention ahead of the Fantasy season. Steffen was the top Fantasy Goalkeeper last season, and his side have a solid defence, which will bode well over the first 10 or so fixtures, with Columbus featuring regularly in the fixture list.
We've already gone into some depth on the addition of Steffen as an FPL option, and fits the bill as as he not priced at $6.0m, which is a big plus when compared to Frei and Melia
Tim Melia (Sporting Kansas City) - $6.0 million:
With teams missing out each week due to the nature of MLS's fixture schedule, only three teams feature regularly throughout the opening 10 Gameweek's, with Sporting Kansas City, Columbus Crew, and Vancouver Whitecaps, an ever present on the schedule.
Kansas finished 5th in the Western Conference last year, and had a solid defence, only shipping 29 goals throughout the 34 game regular season, and the squad have retained all of their defensive assets, which means Melia has to be considered for a spot to start the season.
There are more points in defenders Opara and Zusi, but if you want consistency in between the sticks, Melia is the premium option ahead of the new season. The only drawback is an opening day tie at home to David Villa and New York City, which might create clashes from the get-go if you choose to go that route.
Stefan Frei (Seattle Sounders) - $6.0 million:
Of the Goalkeeper picks ahead of Gameweek 1, we think that Stefan Frei is the most likely to return with a clean sheet. Seattle, who have become a powerhouse in MLS in recent years, are at home against Los Angeles FC, who will be playing their first match in MLS history. That is recipe enough for inclusion. There could be a big gulf in class on the opening day.
If you can manage the $6.0 million it will take to have Frei in your squad, Gameweek 1 looks the perfect opportunity to build on the 91 points he managed last season.
Seattle play in alternating weeks, so Frei's involvement will have to be managed, with the shot-stopper having to come in and out of the team.
Seattle's opening fixtures...
GW1: Seattle Sounders vs. Los Angeles FC
GW3: FC Dallas vs. Seattle Sounders
GW5: Seattle Sounders vs. Montreal Impact
Goalkeeper Picks: Alternative Options
Alex Bono (Toronto FC) - $6.0 million:
We choose between Alex Bono and Zack Steffen for a spot in the essential rankings, but Toronto are well place for a clean sheet during Gameweek 1 in the opening fixture against Columbus.
Toronto were the only MLS side who won a CONCACAF Champions League match in the round of 16, beating Colorado Rapids 2-0. Alex Bono is Toronto's first choice Goalkeeper and finished 6th in the rankings of shot-stoppers playing this season, and managed 101 Fantasy points last season.
Toronto are once again amongst the favourites to retain their MLS crown this season, though Bono makes an appearance in the list of alternative candidates due to Toronto having some good defensive options in Morrow and new signing, Gregory van der Wiel.
Joe Bendik (Orlando City) - $5.0 million:
Orlando City languished last season, finishing 18th of of 23 teams in the overall MLS standings in what was Kaka's final season with the club. In the off-season Orlando's Head Coach, Jason Kreis, has been very active in reshaping the squad, bringing in a wide-array of talent.
Orlando head into the new season with the tag of potentially being one of the contenders for an MLS Cup play-off spot, with the 'most-improved' tag being thrown out a lot. In defence, Werder Bremen's Lamine Sane has been brought in, which might be a blessing for reasonably priced Joe Bendik, Orlando's first choice keeper.
Orlando host D.C. United in their first match, with D.C. managing to finish lower than Orlando did last season. Both will be looking for an upstart in form, but our pick goes with Bendik.
The American shot-stopper played in 33 matches last season, and finished 4th in the overall GK rankings last season with 103 points, which is just 18 points shy of Zack Steffen's chart-topping tally.
Orlando also play 7 of their first 10 games at home, which a great advantage for any MLS team to have, especially in the first stages of the season.
Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) - $5.5 million:
If you're new to MLS, Nick Rimando is pretty much the equivalent of a Premier League journeymen such as Petr Cech, only Rimando holds most of the records in MLS for a Goalkeeper.
The 38 year-old shot-stopper is Real Salt Lake's man in the net, and more importantly, RSL ended the 2017 on a strong note. RSL finished 8th in the Western Conference, and that was down to a terrible start to the season. RSL only lost 3 of their last 15 games last season, and enter the season as potential favourites to win the Western Conference (if you read what the official MLS site says).
An away day to FC Dallas should be an interesting tie, and Rimando's selection could provide some much needed variety in your squads for Gameweek 1.
Goalkeeper Picks: Wildcard Options
Tyler Miller (Los Angeles FC) - $4.5 million:
There's nothing more Fantasy players love searching for than the cheap 4.5m options in goal, and Tyler Miller is one such case at new team, LAFC. Playing their first match away at Seattle Sounders, you don't know what you're going to get from this new side, which puts Tyler Miller in definite wildcard territory.
Miller joins LAFC from Seattle Sounders, but failed to surpass Stefan Frei in goal, and joined Los Angeles looking for his big break, and this may be it. Miller's been favoured in pre-season by Head Coach, Bob Bradley, and could be a very good cheap alternative.
Stefan Marinovic (Vancouver Whitecaps) - $5.5 million:
Vancouver are one of the three Canadian teams in MLS, and they finished in 3rd place in the Western Conference last season. They have Welshman, Carl Robinson, as their Head Coach since 2013 and host Canadian rivals, Montreal Impact, on the opening day.
Derby days are usually close tight-knit affairs, which means the appeal of Marinovic ahead of Gameweek 1 is a decent left-field option. The New Zealand international will be first-choice this season after making just 15 appearances last season (with 23 Fantasy points).
Vancouver have added to their depth of their squad, which puts them in wildcard territory for the opening day of the season. Also, like Columbus and Kansas, Vancouver have a solid run of fixtures in the opening 10 fixtures, without any breaks.
Andrew Tarbell (San Jose Earthquakes) - $5.0 million
The stats don't read for good viewing when potentially considering Andrew Tarbell as a Goalkeeper option ahead of Gameweek 1, but reasonably priced in MLS Fantasy, and playing a side heavily considered to be among the worst in MLS, has us thinking that Tarbell may be an option against Minnesota United at home.
MLS adopts a weekly refresh of their Fantasy players teams, and this means it could be ideal to include Tarbell for one week to start the season.
San Jose conceding 60 goals last season as they finished 6th in the Western Conference last season, which helps explain why Tarbell only managed 37 points from 35 appearances last season. San Jose are favourites for the encounter at home to Minnesota, so this pick definitely falls in the realm of a wildcard selection.
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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