Welcome to the MLS highlights from game week #160. 

As always I’ll be looking at the real match data to highlight players who were fortunate to score big in S05, were unlucky to score low, or ended up with just about what they deserved and should be consistent.

Often, I will look to sell players who over-performed as it is usually easier to sell a player with a recent big score for a good price. 

And to replace them we can usually find a player of equal ability who was perhaps unfortunate to get a weak score. They will often be on sale cheaply because lots of people are very impatient! 

We have to remember that the difference between a 50 and a 90 can be wafer thin in any given weekend and not over react to just one good or bad score.

It’s crucial to understand what lays behind that score when judging the quality of a player. If we don’t know what is behind that score – we shouldn’t rely on it. 

New York FC vs Cincinnati FC

A 5-0 demolition. Last week I highlighted how fortunate Cinny looked to come out of the opening weekend with that 2-2 to Nashville. They were shipping chances and didn’t create much in that first game. 

That’s why I stacked NYFC players in my Friday teams. All 4 of Castellanos, Moralez, Tinnerholm and Johnson delivered the goods.

Cinny look so poor that they now have a target painted on them and we can fully expect managers to be stacking players facing them for the foreseeable. Orlando face them next week.

For NY this is the sort of game that showcases everyone at their best. 

Moralez I captained on Friday for the mid-price team and he didn’t disappoint. He got a late assist for a strong 83 score but he was very close to a perfect 100. He had 4 efforts himself with some quality chances. And with an incredible 5 key passes he was very unfortunate to only get 83. Superb value at .200 even if fixtures are toughening up at NYFC.

Castellanos showed his quality. A regular threat and not just in these soft games. Pretty much as expected from the preview, he isn’t cheap at .600 or so but he is worth it.

Medina was something of a surprise package, 2 goals is unusual for him but single goals and some assists shouldn’t be. Somewhat expensive for what he is at .400 given the late season hot streak gave him a high average going into the season. You can find better for less but he’s solid nonetheless.

Parks brought a solid 50 which is a bit below expectation. Apart from one very speculative shot offered little threat or creativity. Probably could have crept up above 60 if he wasn’t subbed early with the game won. Decent addition as a budget or back up player for his money, his 50-65 points should be reliable. 

Tinnerholm was good again and could have scored even more, he had a great chance to score and was unlucky not to better his ~58. Outstanding value with cards available at .140 or so. (Which seems cheaper than it was but we have to remember that the Eth price is spiking again. I almost want to start listing values in dollars).

The other fullback Thorarinsson did get a goal but this is fortunate, he is clearly inferior to Tinnerholm.

For Cincinnati it’s hard to find positives. Keeper Tyton was out with a late minor injury. He probably comes back in. You can make a case that for a budget keeper he might do well enough on save points given they ship this many chances. And we haven’t seen too many clean sheets in the MLS anyway. 

He would be far from my preference but a budget team can get by with Tyton probably.

Their biggest threat was actually at CB with Tom Pettersson. He is actually dirt cheap and very threatening, he absolutely should have scored this weekend. If not for wonder saves from Johnson. But Pettersson has actually shown consistent threat towards the back end of last season and Cinny are clearly targetting these big headers. So we shouldn’t be surprised if a goal comes from here.

Brenner to be fair was close to scoring too and he scored in the opener as well. He remains one to keep an eye on as a potential breakout player but I will not be backing Cinny right now.

Colorado vs Austin

Austin as a new franchise got their first ever MLS win. And they have been encouraging in both games now. 

Even in the defeat to LAFC last week they showed a desire to get on the ball rather than sit back which is always good for the scoring system.

Two of their best should be Pochettino and 2 goal hero Dominguez. We will have to look out for them when added to Sorare. Dominguez as a forward at around .300 or under could be a good value way to fill that Forward slot. We could have said this weeks ago before his brace announced him and it is frustrating that cards aren’t available here.

Same for Pochettino who missed this weekend with an “administrative issue” which should be temporary. He showed good stuff in the first game vs LAFC.

Fagundez did well with the goal and could be one to watch but he is not yet a guaranteed starter.

Alex Ring showed his reliability again with a creditable 58 without goal or assist. As I said last week he looks dependable. Probably a bit overpriced but then players with high averages generally are as this is how the majority still (wrongly) judge the ability of players. Holders can be happy that moving to a new team has not dented him much, though.

Hoesen hasn’t had anything so far but is getting reasonable chances to score and assist. For a budget team he looks a decent way to fill that often tricky forward slot for .180. 

For Colorado Diego Rubio went close and had good chances. Also managed an impressive 3 key passes. With 2 frustrating scores in the openers here is a case of a player who is actually showing promise and might be had for value as people get needlessly frustrated. For just over .200 for a Forward this looks a good addition to a mid-price or even budget side.

Jack Price I liked as a great value option in the preview, he really has not disappointed. 96 in the opener and 70 here with an assist. .200 or so now, he was a lot less than that. We may not see scores quite this big every week but I think he’ll be making solid contributions in the 55-60 range even on bad days.

Cole Bassett is a potential young hype player. Really has offered nothing in the opening 2. But he was good at the end of last season. Possibly a good time to consider getting him on a cheap bid from someone who is frustrated as he has the potential to improve.

 

Nashville vs Montreal

Another 2-2 for Nashville and again, like vs Cinny, it feels unlucky. They haven’t given away enough chances to deserve conceding 4.

Unfortunate for Willis holders, the keeper with most clean sheets from last season as he was heavily bought for premium money in the build up. This is why I say don’t over pay based on historic performances because – a) if he meets expectations you paid more than you had to and b) If he doesn’t meet expectations like now, you get a major price drop.

Available at .500 now this looks a solid pick up in a defence that is still probably amongst the best in the MLS but has been unfortunate.

Lovitz from my premium side on Friday and Zimmerman still did well primarily for passing as Montreal gave up possession. They might get away with that again next week as Miami haven’t cared about having the ball much in either of their games. Lovitz I think is much better value at .200 than the luxury Zimmerman at .300.

Leal performed again. I was very keen on him in the pre-season preview and in the match report last week too. Really pumping in price now to a point where I would not be paying over .300 but instead I’d be happy to cash this in if people are now overpaying. 

Picking out these players at .175 and selling them for nearly double or potentially more is very favourable. He can be kept longer, Nashville have kind fixtures. And these big scores are no accident. 

But I also like to take advantage of these hot streaks as this is when we can cash for a premium. And there will be no shortage of underperforming but quality options in midfield that can be had for less.

Mukhtar I liked in last weeks preview too as he came close but because he did not actually score most did not notice. But that promise turned into something this time and he got the goal. Half the price of Leal but actually not too far behind at all in terms of quality. 

As an example of how I would use this information. If another area of the squad was weak then selling Leal to buy Mukhtar freeing up .150 to strengthen an otherwise shaky position probably improves the team overall.

For Montreal Mihailovic was a danger and also had assist potential. He didn’t get anything, though. Looks decent and there will be big scores here. Apart from “because he’s young” though I can’t think of many reasons to be paying .350 to .400 there are vastly better midfielders available in that price range.

Team mate Quioto is solid and he provides an assist here. Could have scored himself as he did in the opener. I liked him in the preview and he has shown why. Solid at .300 and should really be a Forward where he’d be excellent value. 

Toye now has 2 goals in 2. Finished a difficult chance here. Offers so little apart from goals. Hard to get excited about because 60-65 isn’t really enough in this very competitive game and it’s hard for him to bring home more.

Brault-Guillard decent but an assist and goal from defence in his opening two is probably an over performance. No real reason to be charging in for this there are better defenders available for less.

 

New England vs D.C United

New England won as expected but D.C showed how stubborn they are again, limiting them to minimal chances.

I backed Gil as captain of my Friday Premium side and he did manage a couple of chances (joint most of any New England player) and also laid on a key pass. His good involvement left him with 47 on a bad day, which is far from terrible. I rate him highly and expect regular big scores but I have learned to be wary of D.C on evidence of the opening two. Despite what betting odds or algorithms might say about how weak they supposedly are!

I also stacked Buksa as the forward in the Premium side and he barely had a chance. Strong threat in the opener though. Like Gil, he should improve but D.C stifled him. Buksa looks good value at .230 and maybe this little disappointment means someone will part with him cheaply.

There is better New England news for my budget side from Friday as Brandon Bye made 62 which on a points per $ basis is superb. He created chances and has good assist potential in general. Looks great for under .050. 

It’s hard to recommend much from D.C as whilst they are frustrating to play against they aren’t getting great chances and were lucky to put 2 past NYFC in the opener.

Philadelphia vs Inter Miami

I thought Gonzalo Higuain had really popped off until I checked and saw that much of the damage was done by his brother.

That’s 3 attacking returns in 2 games for Gonzalo Higuain. Impressive. Yet, this is an example of him being clinical rather than Miami creating a great deal. They also gave up possession again which is a feature I don’t like.

Miami have started well overall but they’ve got a lot to prove before we can consider them a big source of points.

Morgan didn’t offer much at all, one chance created aside. Pizarro could be good but Miami will need to show more dominance for him to unlock his high potential. Federico Higuain was on fire but is probably fortunate to come out of this with a goal and assist. 

If I sound unconvinced it’s because I am. I expected a bit more glitz and attacking style from Miami – they appear to be trying to start solid and dependable instead. That might get them results but it’s not scoring system friendly.

Philadelphia may have been resting players ahead of their midweek CONCACAF CL match. That may include Fontana. That may be why he was dropped to the bench as opposed to his underwhelming opening performance last week. He remains a gamble, but perhaps a well priced one given he is around .150 now as he hasn’t exploded straight away. The midweek game might give us another clue.

Jamiro Monteiro impressed me again, getting the goal he threatened last week. Was also very creative. I’d be very interested if he is auctioned and added to the platform.

Przybylko (furious spell check) assisted, could have scored himself. A very reliable way to fill our Forward slots and .425 is pretty fair for a mid-budget side. For a premium side there are Forwards who can bring bigger baselines, though. On paper Philly have good fixtures across the next 5-6 so it could be a good spell for him. 

Wagner put in another shift. Very reliable player from the pre-season preview and whilst he has risen from .170 to .220 since I picked him out there… it’s still good value for a mid price or above side.

 

Minnesota vs Salt Lake

2 defeats for Minnesota yet they play some SO5 friendly football and have been unfortunate to come out of these games with nothing. 

Lod was excellent again. I liked him in the preview and also for my budget side on Friday. I highlighted in last weeks match report how he was unlucky to hit the post, he finished this time. 

Had a very impressive 7 shots so 1 goal may actually be unfortunate and it could have been a perfect 100. One of the best budget to mid-range picks around. This good score is no accident. 

Reynoso looked great again. If only he was on the platform I’d snap him up for anything .300 or under.

Ultra budget option Finlay blanked but yet again had a decent chance. Could be decent for the money but finishing is just wayward.

Gregus was solid enough although an early sub off cost him his usual strong baseline. Had a good chance to score actually. Very strong budget choice for .150. 

Metanire did well. He had 2 chances to score from full back and put up 4 key passes which went unfinished. For a budget side he looks very undervalued at .065. 

For Salt Lake Julio got both goals, he isn’t available anyway. He has a history of strong threat but had a long dry spell in his final season in Liga MX. Could be good and worth monitoring. 

Rubio Rubin (Mendez) would be of strong interest but again he isn’t on the platform yet. Huge goal threat from Liga MX. And in the first MLS game that came through – he really should have scored. Possibly twice. Did provide an assist. One to watch for sure.

Best of the Rest

Big performance from Atlanta’s Barco, a good youngster I covered in my pre-season preview and for my “season start” line ups. Good threat, and he could have added an assist too. Tough fixtures coming but could be a very good breakout youngster over the season.

Also at Atlanta Josef Martinez holders can be happy to see him coming off the bench and looking fit after that ACL injury. He only had just under 30 minutes but was a massive danger and unlucky not to score. He’s so, so expensive at close to 1 ETH, there is really no rational basis to pay that. Better forwards capable of bigger peak scores are available for this money and well under. But at least if he performs, and he looks like scoring, it avoids disaster for holders.

Beric holders can feel unlucky to blank this week, he hit the post twice! Looked strong in both openers and at just under .600 I’d consider this a solid pick for a higher budget team.

Pulido was benched again although pre-match reporting expected him to start. Came on for a half this time – looks to be gradually finding fitness. Came close to scoring, denied by a good save at full stretch. Holders will be frustrated with this season start but he should be a strong player and perhaps taking advantage of this frustration will pay off if he can be had for a cut price. Anything around .300 would look great value.

Chicarito explodes again with a hatrick! Pretty much the only player of note from the Galaxy here. Was always a potential breakout player as per the preview and those who took that punt are now being rewarded handsomely. Tough fixtures next though for Galaxy and if you are going to punt on these players you have to do it when they cheap, not with the reassurance of 5 goals behind him because he is now priced to match.

Orlando face hapless Cincinatti next weekend. Chris Mueller and Nani look most capable of doing some damage. 

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