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MLS Fantasy with Sounder at Heart: How to react to Week 1

To acquire, or not?
To acquire, or not?
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

As we finally have actual scores to look at from MLS's week 1, it is easy to draw a lot of conclusions from it: Altidore and Dempsey are going to go buckwild; Columbus has a bad offense; David Villa is terrible; etc. etc. Don't buy in to the week 1 hype. It is inevitably going to be the most analyzed week of the year, and a lot of people are going to make wholesale changes based upon it. I'm here to tell you to calm down.

After week 1 in 2014, Will Bruin was the striker du jour, hot off a 2 goal 1 assist performance. Unfortunately for him Houston fell of a cliff, partially due to Brad Davis's absences, and he only scored 8 more goals the rest of the season with no more assists. In week 1 of 2012 you may recall that David Estrada had a hat trick in the Sounders' opener. He would only score 2 more the rest of the season after being largely ineffective as Fredy Montero's partner. I'm not saying week 1 is meaningless, I'm just cautioning you to not overreact to one week out of the 34 just because it is the first.

What we expected

Dempsey, Martins and Keane are the class of the league. They are well worth their high prices. Giovinco had a beautiful assist to Altidore, P.Morales was decent on the other side of that game, Kaka had a kind of lucky kind of nice goal, and both Feilhaber and Mix had great games in the midfield. Boswell, Marshall and Gonzalez had great games at CB. Chicago's defense was terrible, San Jose has a bad offense and Collin deserves a red card at least every other game he plays. These are things we thought we knew going into the season, and they showed through in week 1. These are things you can probably count on for most of the season. San Jose should be getting their new DP forward, Emeghara, healthy soon and they'll probably pick it up once they open their new stadium, but I wouldn't count on them being particularly good this year.

What we didn't expect

Penedo and Kennedy sat out for Rowe and Seitz, Deric was a monster in goal for Houston, Villareal got a surprise start in LA, Colorado played two rookies for 90 minutes over a couple of pretty good veteran players, an exciting young player didn't start in Orlando and defenses reigned throughout the league with 9 teams earning clean sheets. I definitely would not expect so many clean sheets throughout the season--last year Ousted had 13 with Vancouver and Hamid had 10 with DC, and no one else was in double digits. Defenders had great scores in week 1, but with all the attacking talent in this league I'd expect to see fewer clean sheets most weeks.

I wouldn't go with Rowe going forward. Penedo was apparently held out for "nagging injuries" which sounds like it was more like a "nagging contract issue" and it will likely be cleared up going forward. I don't expect Rowe to hold on to the job.

The Seitz vs Kennedy argument is far from clear, but I think Kennedy wins out in the end. Drew Epperley over at Big D Soccer said Kennedy probably would have started if he hadn't been in DC all week (though I'm not sure anyone else sat out because of it), and Kennedy's agent seems convinced that Kennedy is still the #1. So choose wisely (choose Kennedy).

Deric may be a worthwhile buy from Houston, especially if they've turned it back around this year. They went into sort of a tailspin last year, but they do have some solid players. He's definitely one to watch.

The two rookies from Colorado were Axel Sjoberg (who I suggested you get after last week [of course most of my picks haven't worked out yet]) and Dominique Badji. Sjoberg scored well enough to bump him up to $4.6 and Badji is still available at $4.5. You probably don't want to pick up either of these players this week as they're both on bye, but keep them in mind coming out of the bye. Apparently Badji played mostly all of Colorado's preseason and Sjoberg showed his worth while starting with his 18 CBIs. With Burling suspended from his red, and Moor still injured, I'd expect Sjoberg to start at least one more game, alongside O'Neill, but it will be really interesting to see what happens when everyone is healthy along their backline. If Irwin has found his form again and Sjoberg beats out O'Neill, he could be a fantasy MVP this year. Badji is a $4.5 starting forward. Even if he doesn't score goals, that's some value right there. Besides, $4.5 is minimum for forwards so it's not like you're really losing money if you buy him and hold him. Both these guys are worth speculative adds next week if you have transfers to burn.

In Los Angeles, Villareal and Walker both earned surprise starts over Baggio Husidic and Alan Gordon (the projected lineup had Gordon at F and Zardes back in the mid). Both are very affordable at $6.1 and $5.5 respectively. Villareal is the attacking player and the better value. If he stays in the lineup he'll be worth it, but his grip on a starting spot is pretty tenuous. I wouldn't rely on him, but he's a guy to keep an eye on.

In Orlando the big surprise, from a fantasy standpoint, was Bryan Rochez starting on the bench for Carlos Rivas. Rochez did make a bit appearance, but it doesn't look like Heath fully trusts him yet. I wouldn't give up on him quite yet, as he is still a young DP, but you'll probably want to explore other options. Orlando plays first in week 2, so you can sit on him until game time to see if he's starting.

Going Forward

  • Remember Rule 3: Know the Schedule. RSL, Columbus, Toronto and Seattle all have byes in week 3. Start preparing now.
  • Take each week for what it's worth: one piece of the 34-week puzzle. Don't overreact.
  • Captain Dempsey or Martins every time they're playing in the Clink. I have a feeling they'll be putting on a show this year.
  • If you're not in the SaH league yet, you should be, it's not too late to join up. You can join with this link, or enter the code 1739-690. We have something absurd like 6 of the top 10 players in our league (someone can fact check me on this), so you know it's the place to be.

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