MLS Pre-Season Preview
Welcome to my Sorare MLS Pre-Season Preview! This is the final part covering Defenders. You can find links to the Forwards, Midfielders and Goalkeeper articles here.
With defenders the primary strategy point to note is that I am much less concerned about clean sheets than with the goalkeepers. A clean sheet for a defender is just 10 points in this scoring system. Defenders who can score or assist are a priority over clean sheets here. Especially because to win a card we need scoring spikes to push us over the line rather than relying on a reasonable average.
Defenders are often overlooked but that defender goal or assist can raise us out of good but not great and towards the top of the pile.
After this, I’ll do a short article for fun where I build card competitive squads for the MLS season start with Premium, Mid-Price and Budget bank balances.
Be sure to click on each player name for my written analysis. And for those new to my ratings see bottom of page for detailed explanations.
Star Ratings Key:
After the keepers article it’s refreshing to bring our premium bracket down to .250 or so.
Certainly in comparison to other positions this is a reasonable price for what he is.
But I think what we see here is a purple patch of good scores towards the end of last season – which is likely to be an over performance based on his actual match data.
These obvious good scores means he is a touch more expensive than what he probably should be and we can likely find something similar for a little bit less.
But he’s got goals and assists in him for big spiky scores (1 every 5 would be a reasonable expectation) and when that doesn’t happen he won’t slack, bringing in 40-50 most likely.
Good player for those who aren’t scrimping every penny.
About as solid as it gets. Tinnerholm bagged 4 goals and 3 assists last time out in 21 games, exceptional for a defender.
Those assists are no accident at all, he creates a lot of chances. 4 goals… actually looks a bit generous he doesn’t get that many chances. Maybe 2 would have been a reasonable expectation.
But anyway, even when not scoring or assisting he makes a solid contribution and holders should be able to rely on him.
Especially since New York City start with the kindest fixtures in the entire MLS according to my fixture ticker (access that via the nav menu at the top and just filter by MLS).
Worth every penny of his .200 or just under. (Can I say penny when dealing with Eth? Saying worth every Wei which is the equivalent just feels wrong. I’m staying with penny damnit.)
Interesting one with a very impressive SO5 scoring record.
He managed 5 assists and 2 goals last season in just 17 games – an incredible tally for a defender. And 4 of those involvements came in the last 5 games.
Too good to be true? Probably is. This… is likely to be an over performance or hot streak.
He is very good do not get me wrong, but given the quality of chance he usually gets and creates this is not something that can be expected week in week out.
Combine that with very tough opening fixtures according to my ticker and whilst I rate him, I think we can probably find better for the .200 or so.
Which is kind of refreshing because in most other positions a player with an SO5 history like this would have been pumped much harder but Defender supply is not so bad.
Incidently his 19 year old team mate on the opposite flank, Araujo, is unavailable right now but when added could be a tasty option if the opening bid is cheap.
Here we go up to where people are paying .450.
Pines is good and had a strong scoring streak late last season – pumping his SO5 numbers big time.
But historic score numbers can be deceiving – there are almost no CB’s in top tier world football maybe penalty takers aside who manage 3 goals in 6 games like this!
We really have to understand what makes up SO5 numbers to interpret them correctly – lazy shortcuts to this kind of scouting by using a quick search of average historic numbers instead of real analysis will get us poor results.
It’s extremely likely that his output declines and we may expect something more like a goal every 5 games for him – in line with many good CB’s.
He is very good though and can get to 60 or 70 even without a goal because of his all round contribution. Even withstanding that DC United have been a very poor defensive unit.
But these are poor value choices in the end because even if Pines performs as hoped, you’ve still over paid and could have got a similar level of output for probably half this price and even less.
I’d stick Leerdam on the watch list rather than diving straight in because Inter Miami are a wildcard who could be very good or awful.
Leerdam was superb for the Sounders last term and in theory should be a textbook fit for Sorare scoring.
The SO5 record towards the end of last season looks very poor but he’s unlucky – he was getting some decent chances to score.
But the teams tactics count for a lot in these games, sometimes more than the individual. And we have no pre-season data on Miami as they have not played any official pre-season games which makes me wary.
Could be a good option though if Miami’s early games look promising when we run those numbers next week.
Reliable pick, rarely misses a game.
Makes a strong overall contribution to matches so he can score well even without a goal or assist.
Unfortunate to only get 1 assist last time out too in 17 games, he’s up there with the best full backs for key passes.
Real Salt Lake are one of the tighter defences, but they do start with a rough opener to Minnesota.
0.120 or so would make for a reliable week in week out option for a very fair price.
This is decent as Segura offers a reasonable shot at 45-65 points most weeks due to his decent average and LAFC’s reasonable defence.
Especially in the opening 6 where they have kind fixtures as per my ticker. So I’ll bump his ability by half a star for that.
But a decent average score is generally not enough for me, I like at least a little threat. And Segura has some and matches the very expensive Pines above in terms of Expected Goals per minute.
But unlike Pines, he’s budget friendly at .150 or so.
Here’s a consistent pick.
Wagner has decent assist potential, managing 2 in 12 games last time, and this is no accident he creates regular chances.
Add that to a solid overall contribution for baseline points plus he’s at Philly who are one of the best defences who start with favourable fixtures.
0.170? Very reasonable.
Interesting because his last season return of 3 goals and 4 assists in 18 games puts him up with the best in the League.
Yet, this feels a touch fortunate, mostly for the goals. He didn’t actually get that many chances. He’s hugely out performing his Expected goals/assists so he’s either very fortunate or he and his team are exceptionally clinical.
This means there is a significant risk of him underperforming his SO5 history.
And Toronto have tough opening fixtures although Matchweek 2 vs the Whitecaps is a chance to shine.
All that said he’s a decent player and .160 or so is reasonable. But there are much more reliable options on this page for that price or less.
Continuing the Toronto theme Auro is on the opposite flank to Laryea above and interestingly he may be underperforming.
He didn’t get any goals or assists last time yet is amongst the best defenders in the league for key passes. But his real strength is a very strong overall contribution at times, particularly when Toronto have a soft fixture where they can dominate the ball (Whitecaps, game week 2?).
For his .100 I like this as a decent option who could improve rather than decline. Those tough opening fixtures in the first 6 are a dampener but like I say gameweek 2 is the sort of game Auro could do really well.
Arreaga could be a steal at 0.080.
There is not much goal or assist potential here but he can be an excellent ball playing CB and rack up 60+ points for doing little more than playing his usual game.
Very competitive for that money and that could free up .200 to spend in the GK or FWD positions without really weakening your team at all.
A marauding Right Back if ever there was. He loves a cross and if anything he should be upset with his team mates for not putting more of them away.
Managed 2 assists in 19 last term but he has a right to call that unlucky given the regular chances he creates. 1 every 4 games or so would be reasonable and bring him into line with the Leagues best.
Minnesota have favourable opening fixtures so he gets a little boost in my ability ratings.
Good shout for his .090.
Very respectable for his money.
3 assists in 23 is about fair but he also makes a big contribution and he can hit 60 to 65 regularly even when blanking.
Plus Columbus are a solid outfit for some clean sheets along the way.
He is 34 but age doesn’t trouble me too much in early season and he is available for around 0.090 – suitable for either a budget side or as a reserve player for a more expensive squad.
Here is a fascinating budget option – 37 year old starter available for just 0.054.
Actually has reasonable goal threat by CB standards but his real appeal is his passing ability which makes him a reliable 50-60 points, and even, up to 70-80 on baseline alone at times.
They have tough fixtures to start but he’s a genuinely competitive option for a rock bottom price.
Saving money here could help us stretch to a better GK or FWD for example.
If Brandon Bye starts as expected, he could be a really strong choice and really good value.
But he is under threat from highly rated youngster Tajon Buchanan who may pull an Alphonso Davies and transition from midfield to full back and join a European club.
Both are solid prospects. Bye’s poor late season SO5 history last time is mainly due to rotation – he made more key passes than almost any defender in the League per minute last time out and I’d consider him a very solid pick if he does hold down the slot.
Not only does he have assist potential, New England are one of the best defences.
There is possibly an interesting double up option here because Bye at 0.045 should start and if Buchanan replaces him he should at least rotate and get some pitch time so that money will not be wasted. He’s worth that even as a back up.
And if that happens, Buchanan could do really well, gain prestige, and rise in price from his .250.
A bit of a departure from the theme of this article which is about building card competitive teams – but I also like trading like this so why not include it here.
Good full back who comes out amongst the best for key passes last term. 3 assists in 19, and that is possibly an underperformance if anything.
Good overall involvement so capable of 40’s and 50’s even without a goal.
Reasonably solid defence in this team for clean sheets and they have favourable opening fixtures.
Available for 0.078. Not much to dislike here.
A cheaper alternative to Wagner above, Mbaizo has all the same benefits of being in a solid defence with kind fixtures.
He also creates decent chances, and is really not far behind Wagner at all on this metric – the only difference being Mbaizo is yet to prove it by actually registering the assists.
Could well punch at the same weight as Wagner but is currently half the price at 0.087.
When on the pitch Thompson is capable of very solid scores, coming out well amongst all the defenders for both goal threat and assist potential. As well as solid overall involvement.
He should start the season but may end up in a timeshare with Abecasis.
But when playing he has the capacity to get up to 70-80 and compete with the best and he’s just 0.060 or so right now.
Could be a good rotation option.
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Star Ratings Key:
The strength of the player in the Sorare scoring system. This is based primarily on Adam’s detailed assessment of their real match data not SO5 scoring history which can be misleading.
Recent match data is weighted more heavily. And the fixture schedule for the next 6 games is taken into account.
A 3 star player is above average, and likely to be capable of contributing to a team trying to place high enough to win cards.
4 Stars is very strong and players are not given this rating lightly. 5 is exceptional, reserved only for the real elites.
2 Stars or less means they are weak but may still be viable for a less ambitious team trying to meet the Eth win threshold or similar.
An assessment of value based on the Ability of the player and market prices available at time of review as well as recent sell prices.
3 stars here would generally be an acceptable price to pay, with 4 or 5 stars good value or excellent value.
2 or less would generally indicate poor value.
My overall assessment based on ability and value plus all other soft factors like general desirability and trend fit beyond just raw tournament performance.
Please note that whilst the star ratings are provided for at a glance convenience I always recommend reading the text as well which provides valuable context!
And, as always, my guides are meant to narrow down targets for readers to look at rather than make their decisions for them!