MLS Fantasy 2018: Gameweek 2 Review - Star Players
The second round of fixtures in MLS have concluded, and MLS Fantasy players brace themselves for a third weekend of matches to wet the appetite further. In reviewing Gameweek 2's offering, we have picked a Star Player who performed well both on the pitch, and on the Fantasy board, in each of the 9 matches that just took place. All aboard.
MLS Fantasy: Gameweek 3
For us in the UK, the first game of the weekend starts at 5:30pm, with D.C. United hosting Houston Dynamo. Five teams miss out on the action this weekend, and there are nine matches to be contested. You can check out the fixture list in full below.
You can also read all of our MLS Fantasy articles on our specialist page, by clicking here.
Columbus Crew 3-2 Montreal Impact
Gyasi Zardes ($9.2m) finished Gameweek 2 as the top Fantasy player from an entertaining encounter between Columbus Crew and Montreal Impact. Columbus went 2 goals ahead at half-time when Higuain scored from the spot and then minutes later Zardes tapped in from a set-piece. Montreal found themselves battling back in the second half from great strikes from Piatti and a goal of the month contender from Raheem Edwards.
Zardes then turned the tie on its head as he scored a penalty deep into extra time to secure The Crew's second consecutive win to start the MLS season. Zardes's presence in attack was the game-changer and from a Fantasy perspective he's the man to look out for in weeks to come.
Next up for Zardes and The Crew is an away trip to Philadelphia Union, who won their first home game of the season 2-0 against New England Revolution.
New England Revolution 2-1 Colorado Rapids
Brad Friedel got off to a winning start at home against Colorado Rapids, grinding out a winner in extra-time thanks to a free-kick from substitute Chris Tierney. The win was a slog to watch and felt flat due to a few extended stoppages to deal with a few injuries on the field, with the game generally lacking in much quality from either side.
New England were greatly improved from their 2-0 defeat at Philadelphia Union, with shot-stopper Matt Turner ($4.7m) the star of the show. Turner, who started Gameweek 2 at $4.2m, saved a penalty kick from Colorado's Jack Price, with Price even missing the rebound (which was an open goal).
With Tyler Miller's price soaring quickly, Turner has positioned himself as the value Goalkeeper to bank on. Turner was also the top, and only, player to reach 10pts for Fantasy players.
You'll have to wait until Gameweek 4 to see Turner in action again (against NYCFC at home), as The Revolution aren't part of the fixtures for Gameweek 3.
Real Salt Lake 1-5 Los Angeles FC
Diego Rossi ($10.2m) is the talk of the town in MLS right now and took the honour of being named our Player of the Week after Gameweek 2. You can read our puff-piece on LAFC's Forward right now by clicking here, or interacting with the tweet below.
Chicago Fire 3-4 Sporting Kansas City
If you ever wanted an advert for Major League Soccer, then Chicago's thrilling home defeat to Sporting Kansas is a must-watch if you're looking to find interest in the league. Sporting's win was an incredible spectacle to view, but at one stage of the match, it looked plain sailing for the visitors, who took a 2-0 lead at half time, only to be pegged back and losing 3-2, before the away side turned the tables once more.
Nemanja Nikolic was on the score-sheet twice for Chicago, but the best player on the pitch by was Sporting's Felipe Gutiérrez ($8.7m). Sporting lined up with a defensive 4-3-3 formation, with Gutiérrez the CM on the right-side of a midfield three.
Gutiérrez linked very well with former Derby County winger, Johnny Russell, and joined Sporting's attack at every opportunity. Scoring twice, including the winning strike to the delight of Kansas's support, this was a match which threw a few surprising names to our Fantasy attention.
Gutiérrez and Roger Espinoza (who played in CM on the left of the midfield three) made the most tackles in the match, with 6 each, and both managed a Fantasy point for 9+ recovered balls each.
Finishing with 14pts was a justified reward for Gutiérrez's influence on the game, and if Sporting continue to attack in the same manner in the weeks to come, there will be more big Fantasy returns on the board.
Sporting Kansas host San Jose Earthquakes for Gameweek 3, with a lot of midfield talent on display.
Houston Dynamo 1-2 Vancouver Whitecaps
After demolishing Atlanta 4-0 at home in the opening fixture, many naturally thought that Vancouver Whitecaps were walking into a dangerous fixture against Houston Dynamo.
After weeks of professing that Vancouver play much like a Leicester or a West Brom, defending deep and counter-attacking with additional support from set-pieces, this prophecy came true during Gameweek 2. Houston's attack was stifled time after time, with Elis, Wenger, and Manotas, struggling to break down their stubborn visitors.
It was in the attacking third which ultimately made Vancouver tick again, with Kei Kamara the tip of the spear, with Houston the destination for Kamara's 100th goal in MLS. When Vancouver went ahead they defended brilliantly and with Alphonso Davies, looked dangerous on the counter.
The tall and imposing Kamara scored from the spot, and assisting too, setting up an 11 point return in MLS Fantasy, and has looked lethal in both games so far this season.
Kamara and Vancouver's form sets up a very interesting visit to Atlanta United.
New York Red Bulls 4-0 Portland Timbers
With The Red Bulls in CONCACAF Champions League action later this week against Club Tijuana at home, defending a 2-0 away win in the first leg, The Red Bulls fielded a young, second string side against Portland.
Giovani Savarese has struggled to find the winning formula this season, with the Red Bulls taking full advantage in their first game of the season. Carlos Rivas ($7.5m), playing on the left-wing for his new club having joined from Orlando for the 2018 season, scored a brace and looked deadly in attack.
On another day, Rivas could have had two hat-tricks in the bag, and the score could have been in double-digits, which is remarkable considering that there was so much youth and cheap MLS Fantasy options on show.
The Reb Bulls appear to have quality in-depth and may possess a lot of rotation throughout the early weeks of the season, which might be ideal for Rivas to keep his spot in the coming weeks.
NYRB travel to Real Salt Lake for Gameweek 3, with RSL losing 5-1 at home to LAFC during Gameweek 2.
Orlando City 1-2 Minnesota United
If you're not familiar with MLS Fantasy, some circles within the game's official writing staff usually advice to always bank against Minnesota. The Loons are in their second season in MLS and struggled last season, shipping 70+ goals in the league.
Fantasy players across the board would have banked on some Orlando options (we know we did), but the signs of a struggle for Orlando were there before the game even kicked off.
Under the management of Jason Kreis, Orlando are looking to break into the play-off spots this year, but that won't happen until Dom Dwyer and Sacha Kljestan are fit and firing, with neither appearing in their opening two home matches of the season.
Minnesota showed signs of life in their 3-2 defeat at San Jose Earthquakes, downed by brilliant Danny Hoesen strikes, and came into their own in Orlando, largely controlling the tie in Adrian Heath's return to the club.
Kevin Molino looks a real player for Minnesota, and was dangerous throughout until he pulled up with an injury, and is expected to be out for months (potentially) with an ACL problem.
Molino assisted Ethan Finlay ($8.2m) for Minnesota's lead, with the winger Finlay then striking in the second half via a good run to the back-post. Finlay was full of running, possessed an abundance of energy, and looks like in the weeks to come he could be an important outlet for Minnesota as they search for an improved 2018 season.
The only major drawback for Finlay might be the consistency of his performances, and was largely ineffective in Minnesota's opening match of the season.
Minnesota host Chicago Fire for Gameweek 3, going up against a team that leaked 4 goals to a Sporting Kansas side who massively struggled against a good NYCFC side on opening day.
Atlanta United 3-1 D.C. United
Atlanta went a long way to banish their dreadful opening day performance, when they lost 4-0 in Houston, with a comfortable and thrilling 3-1 victory over D.C. United in front of a record MLS attendance.
Atlanta bossed the visiting D.C. side from first whistle to last, and changed to a 3-5-2 formation, which allowed Atlanta's attackers to take control of the game. At the heart of everything that was good about Atlanta's performance was Miguel Almiron ($10.3m).
Managing 12pts, all the play was directed through his feet, with the Paraguay international commanding a free role in attack, drifting from flank to flank throughout the game.
Almiron scored with a vicious left-footed strike from outside the box, and then a minute later provided the assist for a Hector Villalba header, to kill of the encounter.
Villalba finished the game as the top player with 17pts, but the measure of Almiron's performance trumps the points earned by Villalba as it highlights how dangerous Almiron is going to be throughout the season, especially at home.
Atlanta are at home again for Gameweek 3, and welcome a Vancouver side who have won both of their matches this season.
New York City FC 2-1 LA Galaxy
LA Galaxy traded a 2-1 victory on their opening day against Portland for a 2-1 defeat at New York in their game fixture, whilst NYC went 2-0-0 with goals from Anton Tinnerholm ($6.0m) and David Villa ($11.3m) seeing off Sigi Schmid's travelling Galaxy.
New York were second-best for much of the first half until Tinnerholm opened the scoring, pouncing on a clearance in the box following a David Villa cross to score into the roof of the net. Villa then netted when NYC countered, with Ben Sweat's shotting being saved well before Villa tapped in.
Tinnerholm, who was a constant menace from the right-back position, got forward at every occasion, but nearly didn't make it to his first goal for the club when he rolled his ankle minutes before, with Patrick Vieira's side debating a change early on in the match.
Fortunately for Tinnerholm he was able to stay on the pitch, and was the best player on the pitch, providing a vital outlet in both attack and defence. New York's full-back slots look solid and primed for Fantasy points in the weeks to come.
Next up for NYCFC is another home encounter, this time against Eastern Conference side Orlando, who will welcome Sacha Kljestan for his debut match after serving a two-game suspension whilst at New York Red Bulls last season.
The 2018 MLS Fantasy Season
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