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MLS Fantasy 2018: Gameweek 1 Preview - Toronto vs. Columbus Crew

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

Toronto FC

Manager: Greg Vanney

Likely Formation: 4-4-2 (Diamond)

Starting 11


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

Remaining Squad


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.

Columbus Crew

Manager: Gregg Berhalter

Likely Formation: 4-2-3-1

Starting 11


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

Remaining Squad


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.

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.

For more MLS, follow @RealHypeTrain and @HypeTrainMLS on Twitter for the latest social media insight from The Hype Train.

Want to know more about The Hype Train?

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.

As well as providing FPL articles on our website, we are a founding Contributor to the new Fantasy Football Hub, where you can find more unique articles, including weekly Power Rankings, from The Hype Team. You can support us and read exclusive members only content for just £2 per-month by clicking here.

The Hype Train were nominated and shortlisted for the 'Best Football Blog 2016' by the Football Bloggers Association at their annual Football Blogging Awards (The FBA's), with the final presentation held at Old Trafford in Manchester.

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All aboard.


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