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 San Jose Earthquake's home fixture against Minnesota 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: San Jose Earthquakes vs. Minnesota United
San Jose's new Swedish Head Coach, Mikael Stahre, couldn't ask for a better game to make a good impression in MLS this season. Finishing 6th in the Western Conference last season, there's a lot of expectation to build on their play-off appearance last season, and cement another season in the top 6 teams in their division.
San Jose's big problem last season was scoring too few goals (39), and conceding too many (60), so Stahre's job will be to make the Quakes a more compact and organised side this season. It's likely that San Jose will utilise a 4-4-2 system, and play in an organised manner, which by all accounts puts them in the same bracket as Premier League sides such as Bournemouth and Burnley, but with an attacking emphasis more akin to Bournemouth than Burnley.
Stahre's first game is against Minnesota United, a side who aren't fancied at all in MLS this season. San Jose did the double over Minnesota last season, and head into this match as the clear favourites for victory, and with Magnus Eriksson and Chris Wondolowski's firepower, should overcome a team without a Designated Player on opening day.
English Head Coach, Adrian Heath, like every other team will be aiming to make the post-season play-offs, but hismelf recognises that it will be a tall order this season. Minnesota conceded 70 goals last season, more than any club in MLS, and scored 47. Only D.C. United had a worst goal difference.
From a Fantasy perspective, Kevin Molino is the man to back, but we're quite sceptical about Minnesota's chance in the opening weeks of the season, and at this stage would only consider some of the budget choices in defence to bolster the ranks.
2017 Results: SJE/MIN
April 29th 2017: Minnesota United 0-1 San Jose Earthquakes
October 22nd 2017: San Jose Earthquakes 3-2 Minnesota United
San Jose Earthquakes
Manager: Mikael Stahre
Likely Formation: 4-4-2 (4-2-2-2 varient)
GK - Andrew Tarbell - $5.0 million
LB - Shea Salinas - $5.0 million
CB - Harold Cummings - $5.0 million
CB - Yeferson Quintana - $5.5 million
RB - Nick Lima - $5.5 million
CM/CDM - Anibal Godoy - $8.0 million
CM/CDM - Florian Jungwirth - $7.0 million
LM/CAM - Vako - $9.0 million
RM/CAM - Magnus Eriksson - $9.0 million
CF - Chris Wondolowski - $9.0 million
CF - Danny Hoesen - $7.5 million (listed as a Midfielder)
GK - Matt Bercano - $4.0 million
GK - JT Marcinkowski - $4.5 million
LB - Joel Qwiberg - $5.0 million
CB - Francois Affolter - $5.0 million
CB - Jimmy Ockford - $4.5 million
CB - Jacob Akanyirige - $4.0 million
The battle for left-back appears to be the only contentious decision in San Jose's defence, with Salinas most likely of the two to start against Minnesota, with the new Swede probably going to have to work his way into the team.
CDM - Fatai Alashe - $5.5 million
CDM - Luis Felipe - $5.0 million
CM - Gilbert Fuentes - $4.0 million
CM - Tommy Thompson - $5.5 million
CM - Eric Calvillo - $5.0 million
LM - Jahmir Hyka - $8.0 million
LM - Chris Wehan - $5.0 million
CAM - Jackson Yueill - $6.0 million
CF - Quincy Amarikwa - $6.0 million
Manager: Adrian Heath
Likely Formation: 4-2-3-1
GK - Bobby Shuttleworth - $5.0 million
LB/RB - Tyrone Mears - $4.5 million
CB - Francisco Calvo - $5.5 million
CB - Michael Boxall - $4.5 million
RB/LB - Jerome Thiesson - $5.0 million
CM/CDM - Ibson - $8.0 million
CM/CDM - Rasmus Schuller - $6.0 million
LM - Collin Martin - $6.0 million
RM - Ethan Finlay - $8.0 million
CAM - Kevin Molino - $9.0 million
CF - Christian Ramirez - $9.0 million
GK - Alex Kapp - $4.0 million
GK - Matt Lampson - $5.0 million
LB - Marc Burch - $4.5 million (injured)
CB - Brent Kallman - $4.5 million
CB/CDM - Bertrand Owundi Eko'o - $4.5 million (listed as a Defender)
With Marc Burch injured for the trip to San Jose, it is likely that Tyrone Mears and Jerome Thiesson will occupy the full-back spots, most likely with Mears as the acting left-back.
LM - Sam Nicholson - $7.5 million
LM - Jose Leiton - $7.0 million
CDM - Sam Cronin - $6.5 million (injured)
CDM - Luiz Fernando - $5.5 million
CM - Harrison Heath - $5.0 million
CM - Collen Warner - $6.0 million
CF - Frantz Pangop - $6.5 million (listed as a Midfielder)
There's a few question marks over who will be playing in midfield. Collen Warner may come into CM instead of Schuller, and new signing Luiz Fernando could also push for minutes, so there's a lot of depth there.
Sam Nicholson might also be favoured on the left-wing, but word around town is that Collin Martin may get a start against San Jose.
CF - Abu Danladi - $6.5 million
CF - Mason Toye - $4.5 million
There's one chance potentially in the offing from some Minnesota fans, and that is Danladi will be starting in place of Ramirez, so this is one to look out for, potentially.
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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