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 Philadelphia Union's home fixture against New England Revolution. 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: Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution
There's always that one team that you wait for, and you wait for, all transfer window long to make a signing. You sit up all night scratching your head at the transfer activity, or lack of, at a given club.
In MLS, Philadelphia proved to be that exact squad this winter off-season. Their only major arrival until they signed a Number 10 in Borek Dockal, was David Accam, who will attempt to add goals into a goal-shy Philadelphia team. Philly will look to hit on the break this season, and absrob a lot of pressure, before unleashing a quick attack of Picault and Accam behind CJ Sapong in the lone forward position.
Philadelphia scored 50 goals in the regular season during 2017, only Orlando (39) and D.C. United (31) scored less. Goals will be of a concern, but Accam's arrival should help pave the way to improve on an 8th place finish in the Eastern Conference.
Philly also tend to be better at home, than they are away, only losing 4 matches from a possible 17.
Meanwhile, visitors New England are managed by former Spurs shot-stopper Brad Friedel, who is entering first season at the Revolution. Friedel's side haven't reached the play-offs in two years and that will be the aim heading into the new season.
Friedel was appointing on November 9th 2017, and is attempting to rebuild a squad for a pressing game. Based on pre-season and screening extensive preview articles, Friedel has depth in midfield and attack, and will utilise more of his squad than many other Head Coaches.
Everyone is in the unknown right now, and we've gone into the details of trying to pin New England's team for the trip to Philadelphia, but one thing is clear: Friedel has to stop a leaky defence, with The Revs conceding 61 goals last season, which is the worst record in the Eastern Conference and 3rd worst in the league behind Minnesota (70) and LA Galaxy (67). With any luck for Friedl, new signing Wilfried Zahibo will protect New England's defence in the early weeks of the season.
With Philadelphia at home, we're expecting a home victory, so it might be time to utilise some budget options from the squad (Fontana, Rosenberry), if you're looking to capitalise in other areas of your MLS Fantasy team.
2017 Results: PHI/NER
July 2nd 2017: Philadelphia Union 3-0 New England Revolution
July 29th 2017: New England Revolution 3-0 Philadelphia Union
Manager: Jim Curtin
Likely Formation: 4-2-3-1
GK - Andre Blake - $6.0 million
LB - Fabinho - $5.0 million
CB - Jack Elliot - $5.5 million
CB - Auston Trusty - $4.5 million
RB - Keegan Rosenberry - $4.5 million
CM/CDM - Alejandro Bedoya - $8.0 million
CM/CDM - Haris Medunjanin - $9.0 million
LW - David Accam - $10.0 million
RW - Fafa Picault - $7.0 million
CAM - Anthony Fontana - $4.5 million
CF - CJ Sapong - $9.5 million
GK - John McCarthy - $4.5 million
GK - Jake McGuire - $4.0 million
RB - Raymon Gaddis - $5.0 million
LB - Matt Real - $4.0 million
CB - Josh Yaro - $4.5 million
CB - Richie Marquez - $4.5 million
CB - Mark McKenzie - $4.0 million
It looks like Philly will be given a start to the young Auston Trusty to start the season, but if they go back on their plans, it will be Richie Marquez that comes in for Trusty.
CDM - Warren Creavalle - $5.5 million
CM - Derrick Jones - $6.0 million
RM - Eric Ayuk - $5.0 million
RW - Fabian Herbers - $6.5 million
RW - Marcus Epps - $5.5 million
CAM - Borek Dockal - $8.5 million (not likely to feature this week)
CAM - Ilsinho - $7.5 million (currently injured and won't play)
CAM - Adam Najem - $5.5 million
With two attacking midfielder's not playing, the incredibly cheap Anthony Fontana will likely get a start against New England.
CF - Jay Simpson - $7.0 million
CF - Cory Burke - $5.5 million
New England Revolution
Manager: Brad Friedel
Likely Formation: 4-5-1 or a high-pressing 4-3-3
GK - Cody Cropper - $5.0 million
LB - Gabriel Somi - $5.0 million
CB - Antonio Delamea - $5.5 million
CB - Claude Dielna - $5.0 million
RB - Andrew Farrell - $5.0 million
CDM - Wilfried Zahibo - $7.0 million
CM - Kelyn Rowe - $8.0 million
CM/CAM - Diego Fagundez - $8.5 million
LW - Krisztian Nemeth - $8.5 million (listed as a midfielder)
CF - Juan Agudelo - $8.0 million
RW - Cristian Penilla - $8.0 million
There a few different variations of formation that New England could play this season. A 4-4-2 or a 4-5-1 looks likely. Friedel's side have a wealth of options to choose from, so there's a high probability that we're missing the mark on the lineup for the opening day, but this is good as it gives potentially interested Fantasy players an air of caution.
The central midfield spots seem the most at risk, though Diego Fagundez has been touted by Friedel to play in Lee Nguyen's attacking midfield position. Scott Caldwell will challenge Zahibo for minutes, and Rowe's a versatile player who can play across the park (a James Milner type).
Caldwell may well come in for Nemeth, with the Revolution playing a defensive 4-5-1, with Fagundez and loan signing Penilla on the wings, with Rowe, Zahibo, and Caldwell in midfield. Teal Bunbury could also take one of the spots on the wing.
It's all up in the air at the moment, even in goal, so the only options who will likely play for sure are the defenders, Fagundez, Rowe, and Agudelo.
GK - Brad Knighton - $4.5 million
GK - Matt Turner - $4.0 million
LB - Chris Tierney - $4.5 million
RB - Nicolás Samayoa - $4.0 million
CB - Jalil Anibaba - $4.5 million
CDM - Scott Caldwell - $6.0 million
CM - Zachary Herivaux - $5.0 million
CM - Isaac Angking - $4.0 million
RW - Teal Bunbury - $6.5 million
CAM - Lee Nguyen - $10.5 million (lacking match fitness, also wanted to leave)
CF - Femi Hollinger-Janzen - $5.0 million
CF - Brian Wright - $5.0 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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