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MLS Fantasy 2018: Gameweek 1 - Captaincy Picks

Picking a Captain to double down on in MLS Fantasy is the most important choice ahead of each of the 34 regular season Gameweek's in MLS's season. There's a lot of self-help out there for MLS enthusiasts, with our Hype Team providing three major considerations for the armband for each and every Gameweek. We'll be detailing the top choice for captain in home and away matches, and a Wildcard pick of our choosing to add to the chaos. All aboard.

MLS Fantasy: Gameweek Deadline

For the 2018 MLS Fantasy season there is a 'Rolling Lockout', which means you can make substitutions and transfers until the second a player's game kicks off, which means you can chop and change your lineup as any Gameweek progresses.

You can view the schedule and a real time Gameweek deadline countdown clock (in the London GMT timezone) on our dedicated MLS Fantasy page.

Captaincy in MLS Fantasy

There are a few differences with picking a captain in MLS compared to playing other games such as FPL. The major element to note with our Captaincy article is that we'll be picking a captain who is playing home and away, as well as a Wildcard player of our own choosing.

We've listed the differences below that make captaincy in MLS Fantasy unique:

- With the Rolling Lockout, you can change your captain until the selected captaincy pick plays

- Once the team your captaincy pick takes to the field, you can no longer change your captain

- If your captaincy pick doesn't play, then you'll end up with nothing

- There is no option to select a vice captain

Gameweek 1: Home Captain

Fixture: Toronto FC vs. Columbus Crew

Player: Sebastian Giovinco (TOR)

Position: Forward

Player Price: $11.0 million

We start off by going straight in with the first match of the 2018 MLS season, with domestic champs Toronto welcoming Columbus Crew to BMO Field. Usually the thought of captaining in the first game of a Fantasy week is usually off-putting, but we're talking about proven quality.

The Canadian side registered the most points in regular season history when Toronto claimed 69 points over 34 games.

Toronto have gone from strength over the off-season, keeping the core of their team intactwhilst adding right-back Gregory van der Wiel to the ranks as well. Sebastian Giovinco is at the heart of Toronto's success. Playing a free role in Greg Vanney's role, Giovinco managed 16 goals and 8 assists last season and looks set to build on his tally from last season.

This will be Giovinvo's fourth campaign with the side who beat Seattle Sounders 2-0 in the MLS Cup final, with the Italian registering more goals and assists in his previous two campaigns, though Gio only appeared in 25 matches last season.

Giovinco's MLS Goals and Assists

2015: 22 goals, 16 assists

2016: 17 goals, 15 assists

2017: 16 goals, 6 assists

Giovinco's also scored more free-kicks than any other player in MLS, yes even more than David Beckham, and is a set-piece specialist, which only adds to his appeal further.

You can read our preview for Toronto's season-opener against Columbus Crew by clicking here, or by interacting with the below tweet.

Gio's cause is also aided by the state of Columbus Crew heading into the new season, though it should be noted from the offset that Columbus are known for a possession game, and having a solid defence, the only potential crux in Gio's case fo captaincy.

Columbus Crew pride themselves on being the oldest team in MLS. They're based in central Ohio, but if their owner Anthony Precourt has his way, there is a strong chance that The Crew could end up relocating the club to Austin, Texas in 2019.

The off-season has been turbulent for The Crew's fans, who have had to come together to try and make their voices head in order to keep football in the Columbus area.

Gregg Berhalter, who is widely accepted to be a popular Head Coach amongst The Crew's supporters, has also had a turbulent winter with players coming and going.

The biggest transfer in to Columbus has been the signing of Gyasi Zardes from LA Galaxy, which was part of a trade to the Galaxy, with the Los Angeles side picking up Ola Kamara. Justin Meram was also traded to Orlando City. Kamara scored 34 league goals across two season's at The Crew, and the loss is viewed as a big miss ahead of the new season.

It's been a winter of a lot of change, so when discussing MLS Fantasy options, it looks very naive of anyone to say that The Crew are nailed on for points in the early weeks, especially as Berhalter's side travel to Toronto for the opening game.

Gameweek 1: Away Captain

Fixture: Houston Dynamo vs. Atlanta United

Player: Josef Martinez (ATL)

Position: Forward

Player Price: $11.0 million

Captaincy away from home is looking like it will be hoping, praying, and crossing your fingers, that a team can deliver. MLS clubs tend to be better at home, which is why we're breaking the ice with a Forward who was clinical last season, when he was fit that was.

The team over at MLS Fantasy favour Houston's attacking options this week, but Josef Martinez is the glamour option to pick this week.

Josef Martinez provides the prong in Atlanta's attack. The Venezuela international has scored 9 goals in 38 appearances for his national side, and is most definitely on the rise in MLS as Atlanta continue to build a vibrant and young side that is making the competition stand up and take notice.

Martinez joined Atlanta United with more than 100 professional appearances spread across the first divisions of Venezuela, Switzerland and Italy. In his three seasons with Serie A outfit Torino, Martinez scored 13 goals while adding six assists in 76 appearances. In league competition, Martinez netted 7 times in 58 appearances for the Italian side.

In Martinez's first MLS season, he scored more in one season than he did in his three seasons in Italy combined.

A 19 haul season from only 17 starts means that if there is one asset who can unleash hell on the road, it will be Martinez, though we are cautious that Houston will be loking to make their home a fortress this season.

You can read our match preview for Atlanta against Houston by clicking here, or by interacting with the below tweet.

Below you can read the stats behind Martinez's 2017 MLS season.

Josef Martinez: Statistics

- Martinez scored 19 goals in only 17 starts in his debut MLS season, the most ever by a player on an expansion team.

- Martínez’s three hat tricks in one season tied an MLS mark while his 0.95 goals per game average ranks third in league history amongst players with a least five goals scored in a single season.

- Two-time MLS Player of the Month (March, September) and two-time MLS Player of the Week.

- Named to MLS Team of the Week four times and voted MLS Goal of the Week once. 20 appearances and 17 starts.

- MLS Cup Playoffs: Started and played 114 minutes against Columbus.

- US Open Cup: Played 90 minutes and scored one goal in 3-2 win over Charleston on June 14.

Gameweek 1: Wildcard Captain

Fixture: Seattle Sounders vs. Los Angeles FC

Player: Nicolas Lodiero (SEA)

Position: Midfielder

Player Price: $11.0 million

The last entry in our captaincy article is the standout midfield option from Seattle Sounders, Uruguay international Nicolas Lodeiro. Unlike Martinez and Giovinco, Lodeiro provides an option to captain from midfield, and with bonus points weighted towards midfield assets, this might be the wisest move ahead of Gameweek 1.

Seattle boast the top points-scoring player from the MLS Fantasy season in 2017 who will be treading water again in the league in 2018. Nicolas Lodeiro is one of Seattle's Designated Player's, and is listed as a Midfielder in MLS Fantasy for the 2018 season.

Lodeiro, who is an international with Uruguay with 53 caps, is heading into a third MLS season having joined from Argentine giants, Boca Juniors.

The $11.0 million priced play-maker is Seattle's Number 10, with Brian Schmetzer's side favouring a 4-4-2 (diamond) system in pre-season, and that could be fully utilised against LFC, with Lodeiro either playing behind two Forward's, or coming in off the right.

In the 2017 season, Lodeiro scored 7 goals and assisted 12 times from 33 appearances, averaging 9.55 points per game across the season. Lodeiro amassed 67 shots on goal, and was fouled 37 times, as well as receiving 5 yellow cards and a lone red card throughout the regular season.

The nearest competitor within Seattle's ranks is 22 year-old central midfielder Cristian Roldan, who scored 224 MLS Fantasy points, having scored 6 times last season, with 3 assists.

You can read our match preview for Seattle against LAFC by clicking here, or by interacting with the below tweet.

Lodeiro's appeal, and that of all Midfielder's is greatly aided by the Bonus Points system which the MLS indicated. The top midfielder's above outrank any Forward or Defender in the overall points chart, and even though the MLS Fantasy site does not provide a breakdown of bonus points earned for each player, we get the impression that the involvement of attack-minded Midfielder's weighs heavily when bonus are accumulated.

The 28 year-old is at the height of his powers in MLS, and with an opening day encounter against LAFC, the latest expansion team to MLS, it could be a very profitable opening week for Seattle's Fantasy topping Midfielder.

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All aboard.


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