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MLS Fantasy Week 20: Another DGW, USMNT-less?

Players are trickling back from Euros and Copa America, though many of the best fantasy players are still here. Who are the picks in this split DGW?

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With the less-than-shocking news that the USMNT is out of the Copa America, we should see rosters across the league bolstered by players returning, out to release their frustrations on the league. Wait, what’s that I’m hearing? Only three MLS players were on the roster? I must have been thinking of Canada, one of the teams advancing, with 13. I guess MLS rosters will stay a little depleted for a while yet. Still, with group stages closing and more teams eliminated at the Euros, we should see players trickling back to their squads. Rotation this week will be inevitable.

Week 20 schedule

Single Game Weeks: Charlotte (Wed), NYRB, Austin, Seattle

Home & Home: Columbus, RSL, Colorado, Galaxy
Away & Away: Nashville, Miami, Atlanta, Vancouver, LAFC
Home & Away: [everyone else, duh]

Note that the DGW is partially split, with three matches on Thursday (the 4th of July games!) and six on Sunday. A lot of games through the Fourth weekend!


Columbus comes into this week with a very friendly schedule this week, hosting Nashville and Toronto. They’ve come back from the CCC Final winning three of four matches, only marred by a loss on the road to Miami, and embarrassed New England in their own stadium with a 5-1 victory. And Cucho Hernandez ($12.3m) remains on a tear, earning a goal and two assists plus 5 bonus points for 12 Key Plays, 7 shots and 4 fouls suffered. He’s been electric in these games and is a must-start for your fantasy squad.

As for the rest of the Crew players, your only fully reliable option in my opinion is Patrick Schulte (GK $7.6m). Schulte is a decent option if you just want to bet on at least one home clean sheet. Some other notable names:

  • Diego Rossi had a huge game this past weekend, with his own two assists plus a goal, matching Cucho, but that was only one of two times he’s scored double-digits this year. The other was a two-goal game against Orlando. In Rossi’s starts, 11 of 16 have ended with scores between 1-4. He had a good stretch of goalscoring in the lead up to the CCC Final, while Cucho was out, but went back to 3-4 points in the three matches afterward. I would bet this last match against New England was more of an outlier than what we should expect going forward, but the Crew does have decent matchups, so it’s up to you what you think.
  • Zawadski is expected to replace Aidan Morris in the midfield as an every-week starter, but does not score all that well when he’s playing midfield. I’d pick a different defender.
  • Camacho and Moreira are solid options as well, considering Nancy picked them to represent MLS at the All-Star game. One potential issue is each of them had a match off the bench since the CCC Final. I think they are good to go, they both went 90/90/90 in a three-game week earlier this season, but it's not a guarantee. The other regular starter, Mo Farsi, is an option if you want to try and gamble for a goal, but Camacho or Moreira will give you more stable points.
  • I did some math and here is how the defenders stack up in their starts in MLS play this year. Note this is just data in the fantasy game from their starts. I look at “points minus clean sheets and goals scored” as holding a clean sheet is a team stat (though obviously the defender has a big hand in holding a clean sheet) and you can’t really predict when a defender will score. I left in the goals against and yellow card penalties.

    Starts: Camacho 13, Moreira 13, Farsi 10
    Total points: Camacho 70, Moreira 69, Farsi 43
    Points minus clean sheets and goals scored: Camacho 40, Moreira 44, Farsi 25
    PPG: Camacho 5.4, Moreira 5.3, Farsi 4.3
    PPG - CS/GS: Camacho 3.1, Moreira 3.4, Farsi 2.5

    The main reason for the scoring discrepancy between Farsi and the other two is that he is not consistently earning passing bonus points, while Camacho and Moreira do (18/17 total vs 7 total). And though Farsi is ahead in averaging about 2.8 KP a game and is the leader of the three with 30 KP total, he has only hit the 4 KP threshold for a point twice. Moreira has also hit the 4 KP threshold twice, even though he has five fewer KPs in about 250 more minutes.

    My conclusion from looking at all of this? Steven Moreira ($8.5m) is the top choice by a nose over Camacho for his consistency, combining steady passes with the potential for KPs. Farsi is most likely to get a KP bonus, but that has not translated into higher scoring through more assists (both him and Moreira have one) or other attacking involvement. (Okay, enough about Columbus, no idea why I wanted to look this closely at their defenders' scores)

Real Salt Lake

RSL have a pair of interesting matchups, hosting Houston and then Atlanta. Houston have been surprisingly tough on the road lately, taking advantage of red cards to DC to win there 4-1, and they got a pair of 2-2 road draws in Atlanta and Portland. Atlanta is 2-0-2 in their past four games, getting a miracle win this past weekend with a stoppage of stoppage time grand larceny heist of the ball from the Toronto's keeper's feet. RSL was off last week, nursing their wounds after LA Galaxy snagged a 1-0 win in Salt Lake.

Up front, I expect Chicho Arango ($16.2m) to play both matches. After Chicho rested for half of RSL's match against SKC in week 18, he was pulled in the 21st minute against LAG because of a nasty head contusion that left him with 10+ stitches (the gnarly pictures are out there if you're curious). Arango is not on the injury sheet and should be well rested from his time off. He's on my squad this week.

The other player I'd recommend is Carlos Gomez ($12.4m). He's scored ten goals and six assists on the year and is averaging about 6 KPs/90. Diego Luna or Anderson Julio could be the guys of the week, but they have not been nearly as consistent (in fantasy, at least) as Gomez. Note though that Gomez is on Yellow Card Warning so is a risk if you take him.

I'm more hesitant on RSL's defense. They've been rotating goalkeepers so MacMath/Beavers are not good selections. Glad has been injured, though he's been upgraded to "questionable" this week. And they are also missing Vera to international callup. Houston have been scoring and Atlanta have been using the dark arts to do so as well. Atlanta likely will be without Almada, as his sale has reportedly been finalized, but they may have Saba back from his time with Georgia. Atlanta got a result in Miami somehow, they could pull off the improbable again. Still, two home games is generally a formula for potential success.


Fresh off a 0-3 drubbing at LAFC (including a red to Cabral), Colorado get to lick their wounds this week with probably the easiest slate of matches. First up, they host SKC at home on Thursday then newly coachless St. Louis on Sunday. STL and SKC are 12th and 13th in the Western Conference and are giving up more goals per game than anyone in the West besides San Jose. SKC beat Austin 2-0 at home last week, but their previous three games they lost 2-4 (@LAG), 3-4 (vRSL) and 0-4 (@CLB). Colorado is another top 4 team in their conference, and they should have an easy time beating SKC. St. Louis has had better luck on the road, but injuries have hampered them lately, including to top striker Klauss.

I am once again running with Djordje Mihailovic ($12.3m). Unsurprisingly, he had a mediocre match at LAFC, though he still had 9 KPs and 3 crosses when he was pulled in the 76th minute. Colorado was down a man and three goals, so it was a clear white flag when Djordje and Rafael Navarro were pulled. Otherwise Djordje may have hit another BP for passes and could have had another KP bonus as Colorado tried to push late in the match. The only hesitation with Djordje is he is another player on YCW.

Your best bet on defense here is Andreas Maxso ($7.4m), he’s played every minute for Colorado this year and is averaging just over 1 BP a match. He doesn’t have a high ceiling, but if you want to bet on a Colorado CS, then he’s the best one for minutes and some potential bonuses.

Zach Steffen ($6.8m) has not had a particularly good year in goal, despite his reputation, but he’s also played every minute and is a totally reasonable option this week, especially since he starts Thursday so it is very easy to put a Wednesday keeper on your bench and then choose to go for two CS tries with Steffen or keep whatever Wednesday keeper you went with.

You may be tempted to go with Cole Bassett or Rafael Navarro to double up on Colorado's offense. Both are totally reasonable. Bassett has played almost every minute this year and Navarro has started every match but one. Navarro has double-digit goals and is averaging around 1 BP a match, Bassett has 9 G+A and has over 2 BP a match. For me, I see better options around the league at these positions, despite the good matchups.

LA Galaxy

Two home games for the Galaxy, but a more difficult slate given that Thursday’s match is an El Trafico with LAFC. They close out the weekend hosting a backsliding Minnesota. LAFC is top of the West, tied on 40 points with the Galaxy but holding a game in hand. LAFC is +18 in GD which is underperforming their xGD of +19.3. Galaxy's GD is +14 on an xGD of +4.2, a stark contrast. LAFC is undefeated in nine, winning eight of those nine, and have just one loss in their past 14 matches (to San Jose, of all teams). The Galaxy are on a similar hot streak, winning six of their last seven, with one loss in their past 11 matches. LAFC won their previous matchup this year, 2-1 in LA proper.

Meanwhile, Minnesota have lost four straight and are clearly suffering from their Copa America and injury absences. They couldn’t score in Seattle or home against Austin, haven’t kept a clean sheet, and gave up five goals to Dallas and three goals in Portland. Playing in the heat of Los Angeles seems an unlikely time for them to right the ship after playing midweek at home to Vancouver.

So, I like Galaxy players. Riqui Puig ($15.4m) came off the bench last weekend, returning from what he described as a 5 cm groin tear, and picked up where he left off. He had 43 passes and 4 KPs in 35 minutes, both ahead of his pace on those metrics for the year. He said he's fully healthy, so even if he is on a minute restriction I would expect him to start both matches. I would play him with confidence.

At forward, you have the choice between Gabriel Pec ($12.2m) and Dejan Joveljic ($11.9m). Either option is good as both players are in form and unlikely to let you down. Since he returned from injury in week 12, Joveljic has six goals and three assists, with five goals and all the assists coming weeks 15 to 19. In that span, Pec has four goals and six assists. Joveljic has been very good in his last five starts, averaging over 10 ppg, and Pec is holding steady at about 8 ppg in those five. But Joveljic has not started every match since Week 12, coming off the bench in the DGWs Week 13 and 15 (he did start both in the Week 18 DGW). Joveljic has only gone 90 once since his return from injury. Pec meanwhile has started every match since Week 12 and has gone 88+ minutes every match except one. And the bonus points in theses weeks is in Pec's favor, 20 to 9. So, go with Pec if you want consistency, Joveljic if you think his run of strong form continues.

I personally would not consider any other attackers. Paintsil was the player subbed off for Puig this past week, not Fagundez, and his scores have been mediocre since he has returned from injury. I would keep an eye on him, but he has a ways to go to get back to the form he had early in the season. Fagundez, meanwhile, has been very good for Galaxy in terms of winning points, but has not really translated that into fantasy scores. Unless he scores, his potential is low. And with Puig back healthy, he may find himself in a reduced role. And he may be benched entirely when Brugman is back.

In defense, your best option is Maya Yoshida ($10.2m). He has played 90 every week and despite the Galaxy’s defensive struggles early in the year, Yoshida is now the highest scoring defender in fantasy with 108 total points. The Galaxy have found more clean sheets lately, and Yoshida keeps racking up bonus points. Yoshida’s 34 BPs from passes and clearances may not be as flashy as Kai Wagner’s 45 BPs or Brooks Lennon’s 38 BPs from passes, KPs and crosses, but the Galaxy’s recent strength in defense has made up the difference, along with his two goals off set pieces.

The Rest

At the moment, 10 of my players are from these four teams, the only two I have that are not on a home/home DGW are Luciano Acosta ($17.0m) and Cristian Espinoza ($13m). Both players have a good matchup on the road and then a home match with a lot of potential.

Cincy are at DC and home against Miami, two teams that struggle on defense. Cincy’s defense may be useful, but I want to see them reintegrate Miles Robinson before I take them again.

San Jose plays in St. Louis (bad defense, new coach) and then home against Chicago. Espinoza had a down week last week, but San Jose were simply outclassed by the Galaxy. They should be able to find their footing against these two teams (even though I am doubting they'll win).

I touched on LAFC’s incredible form above, which showed up in their 3-0 win over Colorado. Mateusz Bogusz ($12.7m) made me look a bit of a fool, going out and scoring 21 points for the second game in a row, with 3 goals and a handful of bonus points. Bogusz has increased his lead as the player with the most goals above expected, at +5.6, even though he had an impressive 1.6 xG in this game. He is on pace to clear Duncan McGuire’s +7.7 last year, which was the highest I could find since 2021. Less than five players finished the year above +5.6 G-xG from 2021-23, so I am still expecting regression from Bogusz. But who knows, maybe he keeps it up all year and breaks some records. Him and Denis Bouanga ($16.4m) are strong picks this week, despite having two road games, as the El Trafico in Carson is barely a “road” game and Houston’s defense has struggled to manage clean sheets this year. Houston’s clean sheet against Charlotte last weekend was their first in 10 games.

You may be wondering about Evander ($14.7m). Portland are at Dallas then home to Nashville. It is projected to be about 100 degrees in Dallas today and tomorrow, so the teams could be in for a sluggish match midweek. It is also projected to be around 100 degrees in Portland on Sunday. I believe these hot matches will favor the home teams, giving them a lot of time on the ball. Evander may flop midweek but should thrive at home, as he usually does. On the other hand, Nashville's defense has had a clean sheet in five of ten matches Zimmerman has started since he returned from injury and took back the captain's armband. Three of those clean sheets were on the road to Montreal, Cincy and NYRB. Plus, Evander is on YCW. I think he has a very high ceiling this week, but his floor is similarly low. I'm looking elsewhere.

Toronto has one good game, playing Orlando at home, but then have to go face Columbus on the road. Bernardeschi is the best bet to have a strong week on the team. You could pick a Toronto defender on your bench to see if they get a clean sheet against Orlando (a reasonable bet) and then take whatever points against the Crew as a bonus, swapping out for maybe a Colorado or Galaxy defender playing Thursday.

NYCFC get Montreal at home, then go to Austin on Saturday. I like their defense in both matches. Matt Freese ($7.2m) and Thiago Martins ($7.9m) are players I’d have if I wasn’t already loaded up on Home/Home players. I’d also like Santiago Rodriguez ($12.0m), but he is another one on YCW. I already have two midfielders on YCW (Mihailovic and Gomez) so I am trying to reduce my risk exposure.

Vancouver have an interesting schedule this week, at Minnesota and then at Montreal. Ryan Gauld ($13.6m) has high potential this week in these two matchups. Minnesota is still missing a lot of players and Montreal continues to concede a lot of goals (one of three teams to allow 40+ goals). Gauld somehow managed to score just 4 points in Vancouver's comeback win against St. Louis and had 3 the week before in Portland. It's possible his hot streak is over and he will go back to scoring 4-8 points most games. He has been fairly reliant on getting on the score sheet. I think he's a reasonable pick, especially if you want another player who is not on YCW, but I have him just behind my other options since both games are on the road.

Captain Considerations

Cucho Hernandez ($12.3m) - He’s playing incredible and has two games at home. It’s not just the goal contributions, he seems to rack up bonus points as well as anyone in the league lately. Until he slows down, he’s my top choice.

Cristian Arango ($16.2m) - He was originally my choice until I decided to give him some time to prove he's not too injured. His minutes are a potential concern. He's been matchup proof though, so he is a strong choice if you think he's playing 80+ minutes in both games.

Djordje Mihailovic ($12.3m) - High risk, high reward captain. He could take a yellow midweek and be a total bust. Or he could cruise to more 10+ point games in these easy matchups. Your call.

Riqui Puig ($15.4m) - Another high risk, high reward captain. If he’s fully healthy, he’s definitely in the mix for top options. Two home matches in games where players will be feeling the heat, he should have plenty of room and time to pass the ball around. I would not be surprised if he ended the week with 200+ passes.

Luciano Acosta ($17.0m) - I haven’t forgotten about him. Away to DC is a friendly matchup and Cincy should have Miles Robinson back to face Miami. That will give them the defensive leader they need for Acosta to be able to manage the game higher up the pitch. Busquets has been good this year, but I expect Acosta to still run circles around him. He has slowed down a bit and these aren’t as good of matchups as others have.

Julian Gressel ($8.2m) - Okay, hear me out. Gressel has been playing a true winger position with Suarez and Messi and Rojas absent from the team. In his past four games he’s averaging 8 KPs, which includes 8 in 21 minutes off the bench against St. Louis. His past three games he went 88/90/90, and has 1 goal, 3 assists in his past four games with a goal contribution in each. He's been playing more minutes and playing more dangerous balls. If he can put together a goal, assist and clean sheet this week along with those bonus points, he could have a 20+ point week. I don't expect Miami to put up a clean sheet in Charlotte or Cincy, but Miami continue to surprise this year. If you want an off the wall option, Gressel could be that guy this week.

Bargain Bin

Chris Brady (CHI GK $5.5m) - Chicago have been playing better without Shaqiri and were looking like the better team against Seattle until the injury to Carlos Teran. Though Teran will be out, Chicago gets Philly at home then San Jose on the road. Those are good matchups this year and Chicago could be in for a 3-6 point week. If you want to go with a Thursday keeper like Steffen or McCarthy at the top of a keeperoo, Brady could be a cheap option to try out from Wednesday.

Tayvon Gray (NYCFC DEF $5.7m) - He’s been starting most games recently and broke out this past weekend with two assists against Orlando and an eye-popping 11 KPs. The 21-year-old Jamaican has been with NYCFC a few years now and is starting to come into his own. He had 0.3 xA all of last year in over 2,000 minute, but he is already at 2.2 xA this year with four assists. Worth a look, especially if you like NYCFC’s defense, though he is rotated from time to time.

Miguel Tapias (MIN DEF $4.6m) - Minnesota has been dreadful lately, especially in defense, but they could have a decent game against Vancouver. If you need a cheap starter, Tapias is about as cheap as it gets for someone useful and reliably starting.

Bryce Duke (MTL MID $6.1m) - Duke had himself a weekend, scoring a goal, getting an assist off a corner, plus 97 passes and 7 KPs. He had another game like this earlier this year against Miami, then averaged 2.6 ppg until this past weekend. If you ignore his two outlier weeks, his average ppg on the year is 2.5 ppg. With the outlier weeks, it is 3.5 ppg. Don't expect a repeat, but he has been earning KPs at a good clip and has the potential to be a leader in this offense if MTL figures it out.

Calvin Harris (COL MID $5.5m) - Harris has four goals on the year, including two two weeks ago against Montreal. He has the opportunity to step up again in Kevin Cabral’s red card absence against SKC. He’ll be a dud if he doesn’t score, and is not a guaranteed starter, but he could be a surprise this week.

Kei Kamara (LAFC FWD $5.3m) - He’s started the past two games and had a goal and assist. On a team this good, goal contributions are going around. With Cristian Olivera still with Uruguay (and scoring on the USMNT) and Bogusz excelling on the wing, I would bet Kamara starts one game and gets an extended rollout in the other, with at least one goal contribution on the week. He is on borrowed time though, so only grab him if you really don’t have other options.

Yellow Card Watch

You can get the full list here:

Some names to highlight: Santi Rodriguez, Jordi Alba, Djordje Mihailovic, Petar Musa, Aaron Herrera, Brooks Lennon, Sebastian Driussi, Luca Orellano, Kai Wagner, Evander, Andres (Carlos) Gomez, Tomas Totland, Joseph Paintsil, Timothy Tillman, Fabian Herbers.

That’s all for this week, as always feel free to hit me with questions here or over on Discord. Good luck!