I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit in the last month researching and writing about the MLS for the preview series, and it seems fitting to cap it off by putting some teams together! 

Then you can beat me up when it all goes wrong this weekend which will be entertaining if nothing else.

I’ll outline teams for the premium, mid-range and budget levels as we attempt to create card competitive teams. (Eth-grinder teams are outside of the scope of this series so it won’t be ultra budget although a few of those options are in the preview). 

These are teams to open the season with, that I want to perform well for at least the first 6 games (although I’ll obviously make changes as we go and get more match data). 

Prices are based on prices at time of my preview publications (with one cheat described below).

Premium Team

This is premium, but not stupid “money is no object” premium. This is what I’d actually do with a free hand if I had say, 5 ETH to spend which is super generous. We won’t need all that even. There is only so much you can keep spending and actually keep improving your team.

Frei gets the nod as he is at a similar level to the top keepers but around .200 or so cheaper. Even in a premium team, there is no need to spend more than we have to. I don’t love his opening fixture, Minnesota have a strong attack. But with a longer term view he is a great pick.

Tinnerholm one of the best around and has kind opening fixtures. Easy choice.

Lodeiro. Because he is The Man. That’s all I’ll say. Well, apart from the analysis I did in the main article. Let’s not get sloppy just because it’s Friday. 

Reasonable chance he actually misses the opener but I’d still want him on this budget – it would be easy to find a filler to replace him with this kind of cash available. Maybe Fontana – because he may rise due to good performances even if we don’t play him later. Or Barco. 

Gil is also The Man. If that’s possible. On a budget this size I perhaps don’t have to take the risk on his injury record. But he’s so good. 

And Rossi is just pure class and his opening fixture versus new side Austin could be the best chance to captain him all season. He gets the armband for week 1. He may be a luxury player but I haven’t spent outrageously elsewhere.

All this comes to 3.6 ETH or so and I really don’t feel like I need more even though I’m splashing the cash here. I’d use any extra to pick up another couple of good players to rotate via form/fixtures.

If we can’t win with this team then the God’s hate us. We did our bit by making sure we bought real quality. And we paid to win, damnit!

Mid-Price Team

Ok let’s be a bit more sensible and try to come in under 2 ETH. This is the closest to what I’d really do in reality, I’m not working on a Premium budget myself – I like to work harder and win on a smaller budget than the team above.

Guzan at .500 fills that nice gap between the premiums and the budget options. Should be reliable and is in one of the best defences (although Atalanta start with tough fixtures). There are some concerns about age but I’m around his age and I can still dress myself most mornings. He has a long contract too.

I’m going to scrimp a bit in defence on Metanire because he’s just 0.085 and I think he could be very competitive with the pricier defenders and frees me up some cash for elsewhere. I could upgrade within budget back to Tinnerholm or perhaps Wagner. But I don’t actually feel I need to.

If Lodeiro above is The Man then Maxi Moralez is The Old Man. He’s pure class. I just hope he stays fit. New York City have really kind fixtures so I’m really hoping he can punch above his .300 price tag and he gets the captaincy for week 1.

I strongly considered Ruidiaz but he is a real stretch on this budget at .720. Instead, I’ve perhaps surprisingly gone for team mate Montero who could match his output but is much cheaper. This is a bit of a cheat from the preview because I marked him down a bit for being .500 which is a bit pricey. 

But he has dropped towards .350 due to last minute uncertainty about whether he will be eligible as he had a red cross on him! However, Sorare just fixed this (Thanks Dan you legend).  

And that little discount is something of a game changer that makes him worth taking the punt on. Montero has been doing great in pre-season, and may share pitch time with Bruin. But I’m going to back him because he has a big potential upside given that reduced price. 

I am also taking another calculated risk on youngster Ezequiel Barco, as he is a potential breakout player and has been doing well in pre-season. I’m going against the fixture ticker here because Atlanta start with some tough games. But sometimes it is worth taking a risk on a young potential star. He’s also fairly cheap at under .300 which means this team comes in at around 1.5 ETH. 

That’s well under the 2 ETH budget and leaves .500 free to get a couple of back up and rotation options which is always sensible.

However what I really wanted to do if gunning for a quick win would probably be to splurge on Ruidiaz or Gil instead of Montero or Barco. But I’ll be disciplined and make sure I have some funds in the bank.

The big takeaway here is that whilst this is a weaker team than the Premium side… it’s not that much weaker.

I think there is much more bang for our buck here given it is well under half the price of the premium side. I’d still expect this team to compete for cards.  

Budget Team

Let’s really scrimp and try to land under 1 ETH. I’ve been (possibly rightly) told off for calling this sort of team budget. What I’m talking about is a budget side that has a serious chance of competing for enough cards to be worth it. I could do an “Eth-grinder” team for much less, for example. But that’s not the goal of this series.

 The keeper is just a nightmare at this budget. Tyton at .400 may be the best we can do and whilst he is at Cinny who are historically poor they may improve as they have invested. And Tyton’s personal record is good as per the preview. Putna another option at a similar price and he should start but there is that background threat of losing his place eventually. 

That’s nearly half our budget gone on an average at best keeper so we’ll have to get creative from here.

I’m going to be brave and go for 37 year old Figueroa for just 0.054. He should bring a reliable 50-60 points and can even do better, he’s a genuinely competitive option for a rock bottom price. If you don’t mind the age. And his rough opening fixture. *edit 15:34 Friday* Figueroa is ruled out due to COVID apparently. Which highlights a major problem with a budget side – lack of cover. For a similar price we could go for Arreaga at Seattle. Or Metanire or perhaps Ruan at Orlando. 

I am also taking another calculated risk on youngster Anthony Fontana at .275 or so, as he is a potential breakout player and has been doing well in pre-season. He’ll get a chance to claim the CAM slot at Minnesota Philadelphia who are a good team. (Edit: why was my tired brain confusing Minnesota with Philadelphia on Friday?) 

Unproven youngsters are a risk but we want more than one way to win – sure, at this budget, we might win a card, but we’re the underdog. So if Fontana starts well we might get a price rise out of him as he has a nice general profile.

Finlay is budget at just .100 as per the preview and the evidence suggests he has underperformed – he’s a starter for a top side in Minnesota and if he improves his finishing he can punch well above his weight.

And Nani, old but gold, is a very competitive option for just .250 who shows no signs of slowing down. We’ll need him for a reliable captain option. 

But this week, we could also choose Fontana as captain as he has a nice fixture. (edit Friday 6pm: Ack that is a mistake as I just realised my fixture ticker somehow skipped a match which is being looked into – Fontana has Columbus which is not a kind fixture, so the armband should go to Nani)

Even with scrimping I am 0.039 ETH over budget here! But I’m going to be generous because I’ve used market prices and the chances are I could have got at least one of these that tiny fraction cheaper using a bid. Probably! It does show how difficult it is in the price range.

I could have given up Fontana who is the luxury here but I think this team needs that kind of potential break out player as another way of increasing team value. 

Final Thought

I always try to remember that the first game week is just one game week. And that this is the time of the season where there is the most uncertainty as squads are refreshed and tactics can be different.

The more games we get to analyse, the more accurate we’ll be able to be. So you can join me here for analysis of the gameweeks as they go and we’ll look back at all these teams and think about how they did. And whether we need to make changes as we go. We definitely will!

Good luck with your own teams and I hope you’ve enjoyed my MLS preview, I had a blast writing it!

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