Thursday, March 29, 2012

Week 4 preview

Doubles and blanks
Houston is our unlucky blank this week. There's a lot of people who own their defense and of course Brad Davis is a big draw. They actually have two blanks in a row, so now is a good time to bail on them since they're on the extended road trip.

Predicted goals scored

TeamGoals scored
New York1.7
Kansas City1.1
San Jose1.1
New England0.9

LA comes in as frontrunner this week. Be wary though, as Donovan is a risk not to play with an injury. Buddle, Keane, and Beckham are still good picks though. Seattle and New York also have good fixtures so there are plenty of offensive options between our top 3 teams to fill our rosters.

Predicted goals allowed

TeamGoals allowed
New York0.8
Kansas City1.2
San Jose1.7
New England1.8

New York come in as the most likely team to keep a clean sheet this weekend. Solli and Miller are both great attacking backs who get up the line frequently. LA will continue to rank highly for the next several weeks before I switch over to using only this year's data. I'm not convinced they're an elite defense this year, but still better than average. Philly is also riding their success of last season, and I wouldn't own any player from Philly on either side of the ball.

Team of the week
Solli, Dunivant, Jazic, Kimura
Fernandez, Beckham, Lindpere, De Rosario
Keane, Henry
Subs: Kennedy, Burch, Jewsbury, Montero

Captain choices
1. Keane
2. Henry
3. De Rosario
4. Fernandez
5. Solli

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Page updates

I've updated several of the pages with new data and opinions:

Goals per game
Player pool
Upcoming doubles and blanks
Predicted goals scored/allowed

So go check out the latest updates and make the most of your transfers.

Strength of scheudle: weeks 4-8

Predicted goals scored

New York7.68
Kansas City6.59
San Jose5.98
New England4.05

RSL leads the way again, largely due to the fact that they play the most games. With the impending return to the starting lineup of Saborio and Morales, RSL is set to score plenty of goals in the next 5 weeks. DC plays 6 games during this timespan with 5 of them being at home. Unfortunately, they're mostly against good defensive teams like Dallas, Seattle, and Houston. Dallas and New York both have a couple home games against weak defenses that are boosting their numbers.

Predicted clean sheets:

Clean sheetsTeamGoals allowed
1Kansas City1.22
1New York1.22
1San Jose1.33
0New England1.65

LA and Dallas top the clean sheet rankings with 3 games a piece. Dallas has an additional game and their away games also look more likely to produce clean sheets than LA. Columbus also have a couple prime clean sheet home games and their away games will present some opportunities too - keep an eye on the status of Hesmer.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Week 3 preview

Doubles and blanks
LA is our only team with a blank this week. There's a lot of managers owning LA players across all three fantasy games and I own at least one in each game. Now is the time to bail if you think LA isn't as good as they were hyped up to be.

Predicted Goals Scored

TeamGoals scored
Kansas City1.7
New York1.6
New England1.3
San Jose1.1

Predicted goals allowed

TeamGoals allowed
New England1.0
New York1.1
Kansas City1.1
San Jose1.3

Team of the week
Johansson, Beltran, Solli, Rochat
Zusi, Renteria, Estrada, Chiumiento
Kamara, Espindola
Subs: Nielsen, Segares, Lindpere, Montero

1. Kamara
2. Zusi
3. Espindola
4. Chiumiento
5. Montero

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Week 2 preview

Doubles and Blanks
Another week without any teams playing a double, and this time Columbus is the odd-man-out and gets a bye. THere aren't a whole lot of managers owning Crew players anyway, so it shouldn't be of much worry.

Predicted goals scored
I have added in last week's results into the previous year's data to get this week's predicted goals scored and allowed. As the season goes on, this year's data will get a heavier weight until we get to about week 12-15 when I will drop last season's data and just rely on this year. With so much turnover from year to year in MLS, there's bound to be teams who simply aren't representative this year of what they were last year (looking at you Philly).

Kansas City1.83
New England1.44
San Jose1.28
New York1.05

Predicted goals allowed

San Jose0.92
Kansas City1.05
New York1.66
New England1.83

Team of the week
Beitashour, Loyd, Beltran, Dunivant
Morales, Zusi, Rosales, Donovan
Montero, Kamara
Subs: Busch, Myers, La Brocca, Buddle

Captain rankings
1. Montero
2. Rosales
3. Morales
4. Zusi
5. Kamara

Sunday, March 11, 2012


For those of you who don't know, MLS has a brilliant feature for those of us with far too much time on our hands or who take our fantasy soccer far too seriously. They're called chalkboards, and I can spend hours analyzing them trying to discover players who are going under the radar and performing at a high level but just missing the final ball. I'm going to use the DC vs. SKC chalkboard ( ) as my example this week to point out a few things. You can look at the chalkboards for all of the games and make similar comparisons between players as I have below to find which players are more likely to give us attacking returns. I'll surely be going through the chalkboards trying to figure out which player I should choose from teams with several similar options. Is Hassli, Le Toux, or Camilo the right choice in Vancouver? Buddle or Keane? Beltran or Wingert?

Comparing the attacking five
We all knew that SKC was going to be a good attacking team going into the season, we just weren't sure who might be playing the biggest parts. Based on yesterday's game, Convey and Sapong have dropped out of my consideration and if both Kamara and Zusi continue to play like they did yesterday, they'll come close to must own. What I've done for this analysis is to click each of the five attackers for SKC (Bunbury, Convey, Kamara, Sapong, Zusi) and then clicked on various stats from the right side to see how dangerous each player was.

Key passes and assists - These are essentially passes in the final third that create a good chance on goal. These 5 players combined for a total of 7 key passes + assists. Of those 7, 5 were from Zusi and 2 were from Convey. If you watched the game, Zusi was absolutely the creative force driving this team and this particular stat reflects that.

Crosses - The attackers combined for 14 crosses. Convey had 5 (all unsuccessful), Kamara had 1 (unsuccessful), Zusi had 8 (5 successful with one resulting in the goal). Again, Zusi dominates these stats.

Shots - These players had 10 shots between them. Zusi had 3, Sapong had 1, Bunbury had 2, and Kamara had 4. Kamara had the better of this category, but Zusi had his fair share as well.

Passes - This is the key indicator to me that tells us what each player's role is. If we look at Bunbury's and Sapong's passes in the attacking half, almost every single one of them is a pass backward - from this, I glean that their role is simply to hold up the ball for the other guys. Kamara's passes seemed to all be to the side or a drop into the middle. Convey's tended to be crosses. Zusi's, though, mostly seemed to be played forward and into the middle.

Heatmap - If you hover over a player's name you can see where each player spent most of their time. Convey didn't even get into the box, which is shocking for an attacking midfielder. Bunbury spent a lot of time right at the top of the box which gives him a bit of a grace period before he drops off my radar. Zusi was all over field playing in a free role. Kamara had the most time spent in the heart of the box out of any player, but most of his time was out on the right flank.

So, what does all this tell us? Basically, Zusi is given free-reign to roam, collect the ball, and distribute it forward. He's on free kicks and corners which should yield some goals and assists (as we saw yesterday). I'm trying to find a way to bring him into my team in all 3 MLS fantasy games. Kamara was also dangerous and I would say he had the best chances to score and only some great saves by Hamid denied him fantasy returns. Convey was largely disappointing for me, as I was hoping to find a gem playing out of position, but he really played more of a left midfield role than what I expected.

Comparing the outside backs
We can also utilize the chalkboards to rate which outside defenders are more likely to produce attacking returns. Sinovic and Myers are the two players we're looking at.

Heatmap and passes - Based on the heatmap, Myers got further up the line into the attacking third more often. He also had far more passes in the attacking third.

Crosses - Myers had three crosses into the box while Sinovic had none.

Shots, assists, key passes - Neither player had anything register in these categories.

So, what can we get out of this? Myers is far more likely to get an assist than Sinovic and that he has been given more freedom to attack. If you're choosing a defender from SKC, it should be Myers.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Week 1 preview

It's finally here! The MLS season is just hours away now which means we have only last minute tinkering to do.

Doubles and Blanks
We don't have any doubles this week but there's three blanks to watch out for. Seattle, Toronto, and Chicago are all off this week. Seattle's players have the most ownership, but there are a few bright spots in the other sides. At any rate, with so many transfers available, we can afford to hold off on owning players from these teams until next week.

Predicted goals allowed

TeamGoals allowed
San Jose1.18
New York1.38
Kansas City1.53
New England1.71

These stats are based on last year's performance and they should just be used as the baseline and you can personally adjust them based on how each team's offseason went. For example, LA lost Gonzalez and their starting center back will be a rookie. They've been giving up goals on set-pieces this preseason so there's a decent chance their defense will be worse than last season.

Predicted goals scored

TeamGoals scored
San Jose1.71
Kansas City1.41
New England1.18
New York0.94

Team of the week
Beitashour, Loyd, Jazic, Kimura
De Rosario, Chiumiento, Shea, Donovan
Wondolowski, Kamara
Subs: Kennedy, Boswell, Jewsbury, Hassli

Captain Choices
Wondolowski - San Jose are predicted to score the most goals by a good margin. Wondolowski is the leading man and now that he has Lenhart back up front to do the dirty work for him, he should be freed up to create. San Jose's midfield has also improved to give more supply to Wondo.

DeRosario - Last season's MVP and leading fantasy scorer. DCU are predicted to score the second most goals. You can always feel okay about giving the armband to DeRo.

Chiumiento - Vancouver's attack has improved and Chiumiento is their creative force. I'm not positive who will be the biggest beneficiary of Vancouver's attacking haul this season, but Chiumiento should always be in the mix.

Donovan - Donovan has a much better frontline to provide for this season. It will be interesting to see if The Bruce gives a bit more leeway to allow for more attacking play.

Beitashour - San Jose have a decent chance of keeping a clean sheet against New England, who should have another rough season. Beitashour averaged an assist every 236 minutes last season. Lenhart's return means he has an even better target and could very well notch assists at an improved rate.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

MFLS game

I've had a question and several visits from the MFLS website, so I've decided to make a post about that game. I've constructed my team and looked for a few value players to highlight.

First, my strategy with MFLS is the buy 3 of the cheapest possible players so I can afford higher-quality regular players. This includes the starting 11, 2 additional defenders and 1 additional keeper, midfielder, and forward. The biggest difference between the MFLS game and ESPN and the official MLS game, is that goal differential counts. This means we need to focus on getting players from teams like LA, RSL, and Seattle that should have good goal differentials.

Here's the list of players I found who I consider to be cheaper than what they should be.

Saunders, Hall, MacMatch
Saunders or Hall should be in every single squad out there. They are two cheap keepers on teams who should keep a lot of clean sheets this season. If you don't have either, you might as well give up now.

Boswell, SOlli, Gargan, Harrington, James, Morgan, Meyer, Beltran, Gonzalez.
Beltran and Meyer are probably to best value plays here. Meyer should be the starting CB for LA for a few weeks until Leonardo returns. Beltran firmly has the starting role in RSL. Both teams should keep plenty of clean sheets.

Camargo, Davis, Jewsbury, Lahoud, Evans, Chiumiento, Alhassan.
Evans and Chiumiento are my picks here. Evans should be on PK duties for a Seattle side that should have a good goal differential. Chiumiento pulls the strings in what should be a potent Vancouver attack.

Forwards: Buddle, Bruin, Johnson, Mwanga, Renteria, Sapong.
All of these players have been in one of my fantasy teams at some point this season. Buddle and Renteria are my two favorites in this group based solely on their teams expected goal differentials this season.

My actual team:
Saunders, Hesmer
DeLaGarza, Beitashour, Beltran, Gonzalez, Solli
Duka, Ferreria, Morales, Chiumiento, Grazzini
Sapong, Wondolowski, Buddle, Espindola

I plan to bring in Montero for Wondolowski in week 2. From there I'll monitor each team's actual performance relative to their expected goal differentials and adjust from there.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Under-owned players

I've hinted in previous articles that there are players who are chronically under-owned. It happens every year and before this year, I've never shared my spreadsheets with anyone else. So, using the data about minutes per point earned, and my own biases, I am going to list a bunch of players who are owned at under 5% who have a chance of scoring big if you jump on before the bandwagon gets rolling.


Gspurning - 4.7%: Seattle may not be the most solid of defensive lines, but it should be improved upon last season. From what little I've seen, Gspurning has looked good in preseason.

Hesmer - 3.9%: Columbus have been a solid defensive unit under Warzycha. They should be one of the best defenses in the Eastern Conference.

McMath - 3.4%: He's going to take over despite his young age and relative inexperience. Philly's backline is decent and should keep McMath from being peppered with too many shots.


Segares - 3.0%: Chicago doesn't have the best defensive unit, but Segares is the best choice if you want to get into this unit. He gets up the line often and should provide several assists this year.

Wahl - 2.1%: Most expansion sides concede a ton of goals. Montreal, have Ricketts between the sticks and should fare better than Portland and Vancouver did last season. Wahl has the ability to take free kicks as well as send in crosses from the left in open play. There's a few assists in the cards.

Beitashour - 1.0%: Possibly the most under-owned player in the game. Beitashour was fantastic when he got on the pitch the second half of last season. I expect at least as many assists from him this season and wouldn't be at all surprised if he hits double-digits.

Beltran - 0.8%: His ownership is hurt because he was injured last season and thus, didn't get as many points as his RSL teammates.

Wingert - 0.5%: Exact same situation as Beltran.

Morgan - 0.1%: Morgan won the starting left-back role for TFC last season. This preseason, when they switched to a 3-4-3, Morgan and Eckersley pushed up into the midfield which could provide more attacking returns.


Rosales - 4.8%: I really can't understand this one. Rosales was getting all the plaudits last season and was crucial in the Sounders attack. With the addition of Johnson, Rosales should have a better target for crosses and should improve upon his tally of 13 from last season.

Chiumiento - 1.4%: It remains unclear whether he will feature as a starter for Vancouver to start the season. I can't really see the 'Caps being successful without him in the lineup. I'm not as on-board the Vancouver offense bandwagon, but they should improve over last year's unimpressive season.

Grazzini - 1.1%: This is probably the other challenger for the "most under-owned" title. Grazzini had the second best minutes per point earned out of all players with at least 500 minutes. Chicago's attack should still be great this year and Grazzini will get plenty of fantasy points.

Alhassan - 0.7%: It seems like Alhassan has the starting role in Portland for now. Somehow, he managed 58 shots last season without finding the back of the net. I don't see that happening again, but I still wouldn't take the risk just yet. Wait a few weeks to make sure he's assured the starts and getting good looks.


Buddle - 4.9%: For someone who scored 17 goals before moving to Europe, he is owned by very few managers. Definitely has the potential to be an early-season differential.

Sapong - 3.3%: Sapong was the surprise of the potent SKC attack last season. Bravo's gone which should mean more time for the rest of the forwards.

Saborio - 2.9%: The return of Morales should mean that RSL score more this season. Saborio is likely to be the biggest beneficiary of supply.

Hassli - 2.6%: He's a fantastic player who is surrounded by good talent in the attack. If he can avoid so many cards this season, his fantasy returns should increase.

Koevermans - 2.4%: I'm sure his ownership is hurt by the blank in gameweek 1, but seriosly, 2.4%? He was the league leader in terms of minutes per point earned for all players with 500+ minutes. TFC was a different team in the second half of last season.

Mwanga - 1.5%: The absence of Le Toux means someone's going to step up in Philly. Mwanga is a year older and should better his last season rate. He should miss time for international duty this year, so if you're going to pick him, do it early.

Renteria - 1.3%: Columbus Renteria was 5th out of all players for minutes per point. Mendoza is gone. Renteria should have a big season if he can stay healthy.

Lenhart - 0.4%: The loss of his father cut Lenhart's season short last time around. While he was playing, he managed 20th in minutes per point last season for all players with 500+ minutes and should have an even better supply of the ball now. Wondolowski is probably the better choice, but If you want to double up (as I am in week 1) Lenhart is a good choice.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

MLS Fantasy Manager

I was directed to another MLS Fantasy Guide earlier today and it has some pretty cool elements that I don't really plan on including in mine. Two of the most useful parts of this site is the "set pieces" page and the "players out page". I really hope the author of this site maintains it as it will prove to be a useful resource.

I didn't see which game this site was specific to, which makes a huge difference for player evaluation. There are some things I think this guy gets wrong (like listing several defensive midfielders in the top 3 options for their team), but I'll surely be checking in on it periodically.