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 the new season we will be previewing games, with an eye at looking at who will be playing for MLS Fantasy players, in hope of aiding their selection for the highly anticipated first Gameweek of the season. This preview focuses on Houston Dynamo's home encounter with Atlanta United. 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.
Gameweek 1: Houston Dynamo vs. Atlanta United
The second game of the week, Atlanta (east) travel to Houston (west) for the opening game of the season. What we're going to do is run down the Fantasy options from both teams to give a snapshot of who will be playing on the opening day.
In the 2017 season, Houston finished 4th in the Western Conference, whilst Atlanta finished 4th in the Eastern Conference. Houston made it to the conference semi-finals, whilst Atlanta were knocked out by Columbus Crew in the single-legged Knockout round on penalties.
In the 2017 season, Atlanta won a home game 4-1 against Houston, and due to being in difference Conference's, it was the only time the pair played each other. In the 4-1 victory, Julian Gressel scored for Atlanta, as did Miguel Almiron, who nabbed a hat-trick. Erick Torres scored a penalty-kick late on for Houston.
Atlanta have a lethal attack and will be favourites heading into the match.
Manager: Wilmer Cabrera
Likely Formation: 4-2-3-1
GK - Chris Seitz - $5.0 million
LB - DaMarcus Beasley - $5.0 million
CB - Adolfo Machado - $5.0 million
CB - Leonardo - $5.0 million
RB - George Malki - $4.0 million
CM/CDM - Juan David Cabezas - $7.0 million
CM/CDM - Eric Alexander - $7.0 million
RM/RW - Alberth Elis - $9.0 million
LM/CAM - Andrew Wenger - $6.5 million
LM/CAM - Arturo Alvarez - $7.5 million
CF - Mauro Manotas - $8.0 million
GK - Joe Willis - $4.5 million
Willis and Seitz have a competitive battle to be number one, so there's every chance Willis could play, even though Seitz has featured throughout pre-season more.
LB - Dylan Remick - $4.5 million
LB - Kevin Garcia - $4.5 million
RB - A.J. DeLaGarza (currently injured, out until the summer period) - $5.0 million
CB - Alejandro Fuenmayor - $5.5 million
CB - Philippe Senderos - $5.0 million
Remick will be pushing Beasley all the way for a starting spot. Fuenmayor may very well start the season at CB, and former Arsenal player Senderos will act as CB cover, or might fight for Machado's spot - so for CB coverage Leonardo's spot looks safe on the opening day.
CDM - Darwin Ceren - $6.0 million
CM - Charlie Ward - $5.0 million
CM - Eric Bird - $5.0 million
CAM - Tomás Martínez - $9.0 million
RM - Boniek García - $6.5 million
LM - Memo Rodriguez - $5.5 million
Ceren will be competing for Alexander's spot in the team.
LW/CF - Romell Quioto - $8.5 million
Quioto missed a few weeks of pre-season, so Wenger might get the nod for the first Gameweek.
There's a lot of digestion about Houston's line up, so for Gameweek 1, Fantasy options will be at risk of rotation. Machado could come in at right-back, allowing Senderos to play.
There's competition for spots across the pitch, especially in the CAM position, which Tomas Martinez usually plays, and we think that Wenger and Alvarez will fill one of the roles each.
Manager: Gerardo Martino
Captain: Michael Parkhurst
Likely Formation: 4-2-3-1
GK - Brad Guzan - $6.0 million
LB - Greg Garza - $5.0 million
CB - Michael Parkhurst - $5.0 million
CB - Leandro González Pírez - $6.0 million
RB - Franco Escobar - $5.0 million
CM/CDM - Darlington Nagbe - $8.0 million
CM/CDM - Jeff Larentowicz - $6.0 million
LW/RW - Julian Gressel - $7.0 million
LW/RW - Héctor Villalba - $9.5 million
CAM - Miguel Almirón - $10.5 million
CF - Josef Martinez - $11.0 million
GK - Alec Kann - $4.5 million
GK - Mitch Hildebrandt - $4.5 million
Alec Kann is the deputy Goalkeeper in case Brad Guzan is injured.
RB - Sal Zizzo - $4.5 million
LB - Mikey Robinson - $4.5 million
LB - Jose Hernandez - $4.5 million
CB - Miles Robinson - $4.5 million
George Bello - $4.0 million
Bello's a 16 year-old, Robinson is cover for Pirez and Parkhurst. The Atlanta back four is locked down, though Zizzo is likely to contest for the spot.
LW - Ezequiel Barco - $9.5 million (Barco has been declared injured)
LM/LW - Andrew Carleton - $4.5 million
LW/RW - Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu - $4.5 million
Lagos Kunga - $4.0 million
CDM - Chris McCann - $5.5 million
CM/CDM - Kevin Kratz - $5.0 million
CM/CDM - Chris Goslin - $4.5 million
CM - Oliver Shannon - $4.5 million
Julian Gressel is the most likely midfield change, providing cover for both wingers (which happens to be the case with Barco's injury), as well as the central spots. Carleton is a fan favourite and will sneak a few minutes off the bench as the season progresses.
CF - Brandon Vazquez - $6.0 million
CF - Romario Williams - $4.5 million
CF - John Gallagher - $4.5 million
CF - Patrick Okonkwo - $4.0 million
SS - Gordon Wild - $4.0 million
Vazquez will be the back up to Martinez, with Romario Williams also vying for a place on the bench.
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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