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 the opening game of the season between Toronto FC and Columbus Crew. 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: Toronto FC vs. Columbus Crew
To open the season, the Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup holder, Toronto, face Columbus Crew at BMO Field in Canada. Toronto beat Columbus in the Eastern Conference final by 1-0 on aggregate over two legs.
This encounter comes off the back of a turbulent pre-season for Columbus, with their owner looking to move the club to Austin, Texas. There are many unhappy fans, but on the field Columbus have a solid defence, but have let go of their attacking talent in Ola Kamara and Justin Meram. Gyasi Zardes was traded as part of the deal, and has been in good form during pre-season.
Toronto have gone from strength over the off-season, and we've already gotten a glimpse of what is to come for the champs. Toronto bested Colorado by 2-0 on aggregate over two legs in the round of 16 in the CONCACAF Champions League. Toronto utilise a 4-4-2 diamond and are hard to break down.
We think that Toronto have the competitive edge going into this game, but much like the recent 0-0 home game against Colorado Rapids, it may be a close encounter to open the season for both sides, meaning that defensive priorities might be necessary for both teams...
That said, the last time Columbus visited Toronto, they lost 5-0, and no neither Giovinco or Altidore were among the scorers during the comprehensive victory.
2017 Season: TOR/COL Encounters
April 15th 2017: Columbus 2-1 Toronto
May 10th 2017: Columbus 1-2 Toronto
May 26th 2017: Toronto 5-0 Columbus
Eastern Conference final (1st leg): Columbus 0-0 Toronto
Eastern Conference final (2nd leg): Toronto 1-0 Columbus
Manager: Greg Vanney
Likely Formation: 4-4-2 (Diamond)
GK - Alex Bono - $6.0 million
LB - Justin Morrow - $6.0 million
CB - Chris Mavinga - $5.5 million
CB - Drew Moor - $6.0 million
RB - Gregory van der Wiel - $5.5 million
CDM - Michael Bradley - $9.0 million
LM - Jonathan Osorio - $6.0 million
RM - Marky Delgado - $7.5 million
CAM - Victor Vazquez - $10.5 million
CF - Sebastian Giovinco - $11.0 million
CF - Jozy Altidore - $10.5 million
GK - Clint Irwin - $4.5 million
GK - Caleb Patterson-Sewell - $4.0 million
Irwin is the Goalkeeper who will be on the bench.
RB/CDM - Nicolas Hasler - $5.5 million
RB - Auro - $4.5 million
LB - Ashtone Morgan - $4.5 Million
CB - Eriq Zavaleta - $5.0 million
CB - Nick Hagglund - $4.5 million
Hasler will provide cover in multiple areas, with Zavaleta as the main central cover.
CM - Jay Chapman - $5.5 million
CAM - Ager Aketxe - $8.0 million
Aketxe was named on the bench in the win over Colorado, but probably won't start against Columbus.
RM/RW - Ayo Akinola - $4.0 million
CF - Tosaint Ricketts - $6.0 million
CF - Jordan Hamilton - $5.5 million
CF - Ben Spencer - $5.0 million
Toronto won both domestic trophies playing a 3-5-2, but have since switched to a 4-4-2 diamond, and the first 11 pretty much picks itself.
Manager: Gregg Berhalter
Likely Formation: 4-2-3-1
GK - Zack Steffen - $5.5 million
LB - Milton Valenzuela - $5.0 million
CB - Josh Williams - $5.5 million
CB - Jonathan Mensah - $5.5 million
RB - Harrison Afful - $5.0 million
CM/CDM - Artur - $7.5 million
CM/CDM - Wil Trapp - $8.0 million
RM - Niko Hansen - $6.0 million (could be $5.0m Cristian Martinez here)
LM - Pedro Santos - $8.5 million
CAM - Federico Higuain - $10.0 million
CF - Gyasi Zardes - $8.5 million
GK - Jon Kempin - $4.5 million
GK - Logan Ketterer - $4.0 million
Kempin is the GK you'll see on the bench.
RB - Hector Jimenez - $4.5 million
RB - Connor Maloney - $4.0 million
CB - Gaston Sauro - $5.0 million
CB - Lalas Abubakar - $4.5 million
CB - Alex Crognale - $4.5 million
Sauro is the main CB cover, with Jimenez as full-back cover.
CDM - Mohammed Abu - $6.5 million
CM - Ricardo Clark - $6.0 million
LM - Mike Grella - $7.0 million
RM - Cristian Martinez - $5.0 million
CAM - Eduardo Sosa - $7.0 million
RM/LM/CF - Edward Opoku - $4.5 million
Right midfield is up in the air, and contested. Mike Grella could be an option if fit, but will be worked in over time, as may the newcomer Sosa. Christian Martinez and Niko Hansen could be options in the meantime.
CF - Adam Jahn - $5.5 million
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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