Hello and Happy Friday to all of the MLS Fantasy managers out there! Memorial Day Weekend is here for those of us in the states, which means we’re looking at a nice long weekend to kick off the summer!
Going to be honest with you here – Round 13 has been a tricky one to pick so far with the World Cup looming! A few teams are going to be either missing players entirely or limiting minutes due to upcoming international duty, which could materially affect some results this weekend. Nevertheless, we’ve settled on what we feel is a pretty solid lineup, with some flexibility to make moves throughout the weekend – give it a look after the jump below!
Switcheroo Picks - Bench
• GK - Clint Irwin (TFC)
• DEF - Greg van der Weil (TFC)
• MID - Romain Alessandrini (LAG)
• FWD - Sebastian Giovinco (TFC)
Switcheroo Picks - Starting Lineup
• GK - Ryan Meara (RBNY)
• DEF/plug - George Bello (ATL)
We've opted for four Friday Night players on our bench this weekend, which remains consistent with our approach in past rounds. Toronto has looked much better now that they're finally getting some of their regulars healthy, and they've probably got the best chance of all of the clubs playing on Friday to keep a clean sheet, which is why we're going with Clint Irwin and Greg van der Weil.
If TFC keep a clean sheet, Ryan Meara will almost certainly come out. However, our lineup decisions following a TFC clean sheet will still factor in the performance of our attacking bench players. If both Alessandrini and Giovinco put up goose eggs, we would likely leave our outfield as-is. If they both have huge nights, it makes things a lot tougher, as there's currently only one plug in our lineup.
If our entire bench has a strong outing, we would likely pull Meara and Aaron Long (as I'm worried about a potential trap game in NY if Philly bunkers down like Chicago did) and either Sacha Kljestan (if the tropical storm in the Atlantic turns toward Florida) or Diego Valeri (as Colorado is such a tough place to play at that altitude).
• DEF - Aaron Long (RBNY)
• DEF - Laurent Ciman (LAFC)
• DEF - Graham Zusi (SKC)
• MID - Sacha Kljestan (ORL)
• MID - Diego Valeri (POR)
• MID - Kaku (RBNY) - Captain
• MID - Alex Ring (NYC)
• FWD - Carlos Vela (LAFC)
• FWD - Bradley Wright-Phillips (RBNY)
I mentioned it above, but I think the New York Red Bulls, after a very emotional road win in Atlanta, run the risk of coming home to a bit of a trap game against Philadelphia. I'm anticipating Philly looking to park the bus, sit back, and counter - a strategy that has worked in some cases against New York in the past.
However, the addition of Kaku to this squad brings a whole different dimension to the club. He's much more of an explosive and dynamic playmaker than Sacha Kljestan was when he was with the club, and could be exactly what the Red Bulls need in order to break down a team that puts eleven players behind the ball... which is exactly why we're strapping the captain's armband to him this week.
Laurent Ciman, Graham Zusi, and Aaron Long are all rock-solid back line players, and should be among the most-selected this weekend as a result.
With a tricky week such as this one, it's always good to bring in a high-floor player - which is why we're going with a defensive bonus-point machine in Alex Ring this round. He's our only Friday Night player in our starting XI this weekend, and he could feast against a Houston team that loves to play open to the point where they can be somewhat careless with the ball.
We mentioned Kljestan and Diego Valeri before as potential options to come out if our bench players hit it big. Nevertheless, as the primary playmakers for clubs with very favorable matchups, you could do much worse for your starting midfielders.
Lastly, up top, we've got the timeless Bradley Wright-Phillips and fellow MVP candidate Carlos Vela. Pretty straightforward picks here: both are just as dangerous in distribution as they are in attacking the net, and are going up against teams sitting near the bottom of the Eastern Conference table. We'd be surprised if either of these guys didn't find their way on to the scorecard this weekend.