MLS Fantasy 2018 Review: Team of the Season
The MLS regular season ended on Sunday 28th October 2018 with its 35th round of fixtures, with clubs completing their final matches of the season. For MLS Fantasy players the weekend was the culmination of a long and regular season, filled with Double Gameweek's, high-scoring players coming in and out of form, some unforgettable games, and a group of Fantasy players that were the best options in their position this season. Welcome to our Team of the Season from the 2018 MLS Fantasy Season. All Aboard.
MLS Fantasy Team of the Season 2018: Formation
After much consideration, the template that was most common throughout the 2018 season was a 3-4-3 formation, a system which is also regularly used in Fantasy Bundesliga and the Fantasy Premier League as well.
This means we have 1 goalkeeper, 3 defenders, 4 midfielders and 3 forwards in a starting lineup. The bench is comprised of 1 goalkeeper, 1 midfielder and 2 defenders.
MLS Fantasy Team of the Season 2018: Goalkeeper
Our TOTS picks begins with the first of many Sporting KC defensive options, with Tim Melia the only obvious pick for a starting spot as the best Goalkeeper in the regular season.
Melia featured in all 34 fixtures for Sporting, keeping 13 clean sheets and made 25 save points from 108 saves across the season. Melia finished as the top keeper in the game, though no shot-stopper managed 200 points.
Without doubt, Melia's high point of the season came in Gameweek 11 away at MLS Cup finalists, Atlanta United. Sporting were the first away team in MLS history to keep a clean sheet at Mercedes Benz Stadium, with Melia making some vital and eye-catching saves. Melia's 10 points that day with 8 saves in the bag, and 3 vital points that went a long way to finishing top in the Western Conference regular season.
MLS Fantasy Team of the Season 2018: Defenders
We continue with our inclusion of Sporting KC's defensive assets with the top defender in the game, and the second best central defender.
Graham Zusi was a regular in MLS Fantasy sides throughout the season, with the USA international only finishing 32 points behind the top scoring player in the game, Miguel Almiron (269). Zusi managed 89 bonus points (both attacking and defensive combined), with the defender totalling an average of 6.97 points-per-game.
Matt Besler also earns recognition ahead of Ike Opara (who settles for a place on our bench). Just shy of 200 points, Besler was involved in all 13 of Sporting's clean sheets. For most of the season players were drawn to Besler as he was the cheapest of all SKC options and more often than not rewarded his price and selection.
The final defensive inclusion comes from Supporters' Shield winners, New York Red Bulls, and their only inclusion in our Team of the Season. Aaron Long was a constant in RBNY's defence, keeping 15 clean sheets and scoring 3 goals in a season that was record breaking for the regular season champions.
MLS Fantasy Team of the Season 2018: Midfielders
Spicing up our TOTS are the all-important midfield picks, with midfielders the most vital Fantasy picks in the 2018 season.
The first midfielder, who like most attacking midfielders are bonus point magnets, started the season slow, and ended strong - which is pretty much the mantra of Seattle Sounders on a seasonal basis. Nicolas Lodeiro managed just 2 assists in the opening 14 Gameweek's, before scoring all 8 goals and his remaining 14 assists to end the season as the 3rd best midfielder this season.
Miguel Almiron finished the season as the top points scorer with 269 points and only missed the final 2 games of the regular season due to injury. Almiron was the most entertaining player of the season from our perspective and was the key player in securing Atlanta's place as Eastern Conference champions. Without doubt Miguel Almiron will most likely be making the jump to Europe and potentially the Premier League, which will be a great sight for MLS Fantasy players to see one of their own transition to FPL.
Our third midfield pick is known to us as the 'Double Gameweek King' as NYCFC found themselves playing in midweek more often than not due to the scheduling at Yankee Stadium. Moralez was the second best midfielder in the game this season and pushed Almiron all the way, even becoming the best player around the halfway point of the season. Moralez outshined the departing David Villa and will most likely be the main man next season without the Spanish World Cup winner in NYC's ranks.
Lastly is a player whose season was transformed when Wayne Rooney arrived in MLS with D.C. United. Rooney sparked an immediate connection with attacking midfielder, Luciano Acosta, with the latter taking the final starting spot as a midfielder. 10 goals and 17 assists, with most coming in the second-half of the season (9 goals and 11 assists) after Rooney's arrival.
The only midfielder who misses out of the five picks that should be in the conversation is Portland Timbers midfielder, Diego Valeri, though he could have the final laugh with a MLS Cup win in Atlanta this weekend.
MLS Fantasy Team of the Season 2018: Forwards
Our last stop takes us further up field with our TOTS Forward picks. Josef Martinez, who broke the record for most goals in a regular MLS season, is the undisputed first pick, with Martinez's 31 goals an incredible feat. The spearhead of Atlanta's attack stayed injury free this season and went on a 9-game goal scoring spree in the middle of the campaign.
Next up is the walking and talking highlight reel, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swede managed some unforgettable goals last season, which included a late brace against LAFC on his Galaxy debut. 'That' goal for LA Galaxy, the half-volley from 35-40 yards out, will most likely go down as one of MLS's best goals ever. Zlatan's season ultimately ended disappointment after LA Galaxy let slip a 2 goal lead at home against Houston Dynamo to miss out on the play-offs in the Western Conference, though MLS Fantasy players won't forget Zlatan's maiden (and potentially only) season in America's top-flight.
Lastly, Carlos Vela pipped Wayne Rooney to our Team of the Season, with the LAFC attacker impressing with 14 goals and 13 assists in the club's first season. Vela, who missed 6 games due to the World Cup in Russia this summer, could have ultimately been the game's top player had it not been for his appearances for Mexico in the summer.
MLS Fantasy Team of the Season 2018: Substitutes
We round off our TOTS picks with our benched selections, with Montreal duo Evan Bush and Ignacio Piatti worthy inclusions. Piatti was hit and miss during some parts of the season, though provided some explosive returns to rocket him up into contention. Meanwhile, Evan Bush saved a brace of penalties this season and made an incredible 135 saves, all which earned the shot-stopper an extra 33 points.
The 5th and final defensive pick was perhaps the hardest to make, with NYCFC's Alex Callens earning contention ahead of Keegan Rosenberry (PHI) and Harrison Afful (CLB). NYC, as professed with Moralez, were regular selection options, with Alex Callens becoming indispensable for much of the season whilst Dominic Torrent's side hit good form.
Our final pick goes back to where we began with a Sporting KC defensive asset. Ike Opara was the 4th best defender in MLS Fantasy this season, though Matt Besler and Graham Zusi out-performed their teammate. Opara redeemed his status as a top-tier Fantasy defender with 3 goals in the second-half of the season, to keep up good appearances in the last few seasons.
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