This was a fun feature last week so let’s keep it going. I’ll discuss some premium, mid-price and budget team line ups for the coming game week.

The main difference here is these line ups will be mainly focused on the coming game week itself, where as last week we did “season start builds” with the next 5-6 weeks in mind. But I will still factor in the longer term desirability too and generally won’t be including players that will be great this week but leave us completely high and dry next week.

I also like to cover reader teams so I’ll do a short “Selection Headache” article tomorrow where I’ll discuss a couple of dilemmas sent to me by email and via the Sorare Discord where you can often find me hanging out in the #usmls chat at the moment. 

Drop me a line there or on Twitter DMs with your line up and the selection problem you have this week. And I’ll discuss 2-3 of the best ones here. You don’t have to give your name for the article!

Premium Team

This is premium, but not stupid “money is no object” premium. I am going to reduce this budget from last weeks very comfortable 5 ETH to 4 ETH just because even in this team there is no sense spending more than we need to. And last week we only managed to spend 3.5 anyway. Beyond that point, money can’t really buy you better players, only more options. 

Keepers are always awkward. But especially this week. Many of those with the best fixtures don’t have cards available. Turner at New England, Yarbrough at Colorado. St Clair at Minnesota. And then Toronto or Portland would be solid but both have keepers who aren’t sure to start.

I will therefore go for Sean Johnson at NYFC even though at .800 this offends my miserly sensibilities a bit. You can in general get this level of keeper for a bit less but this is the premium side so I won’t scrimp.

Apart from 5 minutes of madness last week NY gave away few quality chances and they have what should be a favourable tie versus Cinny. As I said in the match report on Monday – the raw numbers suggest Cinny were very fortunate to get a result versus Nashville. 

Lovitz at Nashville had strong threat and assist potential last week plus he was just busy in general for those baseline points. He made 65 but that could have easily been more. I’ll back him here with a decent fixture against Montreal. .230 or so for him. 

Gil returns for the second week in my premium side. I rate him very highly and on paper, D.C United are a favourable fixture. Although they defied those same low expectations last week versus NYFC. I’ll hope that lightning doesn’t strike twice and that New England adapt to D.C’s long ball tactics. He gets the armband. 0.675 for him. 

Up top I’ll double down on that kind NYFC fixture with Castellanos who should be a reliable threat. 0.575.

And we’ll stack Adam Buksa of New England with team mate Gil – and pray that D.C do not upset the betting odds and my fixture ticker algorithm a second time. .350.

All in at ~2.6 ETH which is well under budget for this luxury team. But lots of the really big hitters have question marks over their start or tough fixtures.

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 because A) I’m not a millionaire and B) the less we spend the more return on investment when we win.

Keepers are hard to pick this week. I’ll stick with the reliable Guzan as I did for the mid-price team last week with good results. Atlanta looked solid in the opening week and in pre-season. Chicago have a decent attack though, this ain’t a perfect pick but options are limited and at least at .530 by keeper standards I don’t quite have to sell a kidney.

I am bringing some familiar faces back from last week here. New York have another very favourable fixture and we’ll have to hope that loss to D.C was a blip. D.C made it very tough for NYFC in a way that Cinny aren’t really capable of. And as per the week 1 match report I think Cinny were very lucky to get away with that 2-2 versus Nashville. 

So back comes Tinnerholm, this time in the mid-price team not the premium. He managed an assist last week and is one of the most consistent attacking threats from fullback. .180 for him is great value.

And I will give a second chance to last weeks mid-price Captain Moralez and even captain him again. Even though his weak score probably cost my team a place in the top 20 last weekend. I won’t hold a grudge. There was a reason I picked him and in terms of price versus his potential points ceiling if things go to plan it is hard to find a better option at .220. 

The fact he has dropped significantly in price due to that one bad result shows how knee jerk people can be. If New York stumble for 2-3 games that’s when you can worry, but 1 result against a team who set up to be stubborn and probably got a bit lucky? Not something that changes the overall picture. 

I was a big fan of Nashville’s Randall Leal in my pre-season preview article and he did not disappoint with a perfect 100 in the opening weekend. It’s no fluke, I don’t expect 100 every week but 60-70 is reasonable and Nashville have a decent fixture. Still just .250. Yoink.

To finish up at Forward we’ll grab Pulido mainly because some mad lad on the market is selling him for .350 right now which is relatively cheap. But .400 or so would be a decent price too. He only made the bench last week but this may be an early season fitness thing, Pulido should be a key man for Kansas who have a nice fixture.

~1.53 ETH total, well under budget and could be card competitive (please don’t throw again NY!). 

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. It’s all relative.

I might do something outrageous here given the goalkeeping situation. Steve Clark at Portland is questionable having come off late with an injury but it didn’t look too bad. That uncertainty sees him available for .430 but there is a reasonable chance he starts. And if not, he probably is not out long. 

If he misses a game, the gameweek might be scuppered but then you might see him return above .500 once he is back. Portland did look solid defensively last weekend. And I’m happier to take risks like this in the budget range since this is another way we have of increasing our team value.

And realistically, we will not be challenging for a card every week on this budget anyway. Not until the new reward system next month at least.

The alternative is to go for Tyton again as I did last week. He managed a 71 due to 11 saves but I don’t really want to be paying .400+ for a keeper who is going to get peppered every week. Save heroics are nice but we do need clean sheets for GK’s if we want any kind of reliability. 

Keepers are so tough in this budget range, and really limits the rest of our options.

We can go for Brandon Bye in defence who I covered in the preview and in the first match report. Assuming he and Buchanan keep starting together Bye should make a mockery of his 0.050 price tag. New England have a kind fixture and Bye has good assist potential. And nearly scored last week, actually.

Robin Lod at Minnesota also impressed in the preview and the opening match report. Still available for .230 and despite getting tonked by the Sounders last week Minnesota are a strong side who were unfortunate. Lod hit the post actually. And they play Real Salt Lake which is a kind fixture. 

For the Forward slot I will go for Will Bruin at the Sounders perhaps surprisingly because A) I half expect Montero to start ahead of him and B) they face LAFC who are a tough fixture. 

Yet, Bruin should come off the bench even if he does not start and 20-30 minutes is enough for him to do damage. LAFC might be strong overall but the defence is vulnerable. And he’s just great value at .150. We can’t have everything at this budget we have to gamble a bit.

And for the final slot let’s double down on that kind Minnesota fixture with Gregus who is solid for an overall contribution of 45-60 but can also get something decisive every 4-5 games for a big spikey score. 

He also just squeaks in under budget at .140 to make this team come in for almost exactly 1 ETH.

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