Welcome to the Gameweek #168 preview! 

We are quite far out from the deadline which makes predicting line ups harder, but I figured readers will want a bit longer to think about their teams. 

Just note that projected line ups are mainly sourced from the excellent Rotowire who are often right but they aren’t mind readers and things do change last minute. I also do my own local news search but do pay attention to the lineups before locking in your teams. 

Week #168 Preview

It’s an interesting week to try to predict. On paper, if you believe betting odds and algorithms anyway, we have a few expected mismatches that could result in one sided big scores. In theory.

I do put stock in these things – algorithms like my fixture ticker I find to be particularly useful for challenging the lazy assumptions that we all fall into. But we also need to consider that Sorare is it’s own game, just because a team is expected to win the match doesn’t mean certain players in the opposing team can’t put up a good Sorare score.

Also, odds and algorithms are based heavily on historic data, and can be a bit slow to catch up with recent events.

For example, this week NYFC vs Columbus is billed as an NYFC walkover because Columbus have been so poor. But Columbus have quality and will probably find their groove at some point, and NYFC are heavily injury ridden with key players like Tinnerholm and Moralez expected to be out. (which ruins my team, by the way!). 

Also Columbus have been ok defensively, so whilst the betting makes NYFC heavy favourites I’d probably be expecting a 1-0 or 1-1 rather than a 4-0. 

Portland vs Galaxy is also interesting because Galaxy are much improved, but Portland are heavy favourites. Portland are better than their recent results show in my view. For Sorare purposes this looks like an even game between two teams who have been middle of the pack for both attacking and defensive strength. 

Houston are also heavy favourites versus Vancouver. I’ve been down on Vancouver but Houston are leaky and someone like Cavallini could still be backed here. 

Orlando are probably a good team to back this week versus Toronto, Orlando are looking solid at the back and have a standout player in Nani.

Dallas are favourites versus Salt Lake but I’m not overly keen, Dallas haven’t been exactly free scoring and Salt Lake haven’t given much away this season. Both middle of the pack sides where I’d play form players but not go out of my way to stack them. 

I like New England who have form players like Gil and Buksa who I’d almost certainly be playing if I had them in a kind home fixture versus the Red Bulls. However the Bulls look weak in attack but stubborn in defence so I might not assume it will be 2-3 goals to nil game.

The Earthquakes vs Sporting Kansas is billed as an even game and I’d play form attackers from either team here. Strong attacks on both sides.

In odds and algorithm LAFC should be smashing Colorado but I’m not really buying that. LAFC are living on reputation right now and Colorado have looked good. I wouldn’t rush to go up against LAFC but if I had a form Colorado player like Rubin and had nothing better that would be fine. I might not want a possession based player like Jack Price this week though. Equally, if I had Rossi or Vela I’m not going to be benching them either!

The Sounders are the Sounders and if you have form players like Ruidiaz or either Roldan or a returning Lodeiro you probably play them. But note that Atlanta are no pushovers defensively and like to get on the ball too, which could choke off some Sounders baselines. Unless Atlanta decide to defend deep in this tough away game. 

Nashville is a good fixture to target versus Austin. Nashville are defensively sound and whilst Austin are performing above expectations those expectations were low to start with. This could be a good source of points. 

Phildadelphia have decent attackers who could profit versus DC United but I find them a stubborn side who haven’t given away more than 1 goal too often, and when they last did versus Columbus it was unfortunate. I see them as a decent defensive unit and I think odds and algorithm underrate them. At least for our purposes.

Montreal play Cincinnati and like I said in Monday’s match report – I’d be putting in any half decent attacker versus Cincy. 

Inter Miami have some key form players who might do well versus Chicago Fire, most obviously Higuain. Lewis Morgan is improving too. 

My overall thought for this week is that I will be prioritising form players rather than fixtures. There aren’t many games I see as walkovers that warrant heavy stacking. Maybe Nashville vs Austin. 

Minnesota the team to miss out this week with no fixture. No fanboying on Lod this week for me. 

Player Selection

The new format last week seemed to work quite well where I pick out some budget/mid-price/premium option in each position. And then highlight my single best choice amongst them. 

What I’m finding challenging on Sorare is the constant swings in prices due to Ethereum volatility. Since it will have changed by next week anyway, I’m not setting a rigid price for budget/mid/premium again for now. Instead I’ll be considering premiums to be the most expensive and well known high performers and working down from there. 

Forwards

Premiums – Pricey, but worth it.

Castellanos at NYFC is looking in good form, despite blanking last week. He had a good chance as per my Monday match report. Columbus have quality and might wake up but they have looked poor so far this season. Might as well try to kick them whilst they are down. 

Ruidiaz at the Sounders is hard to overlook he’s devastating but Atlanta are solid defensively. This probably wouldn’t be my week to captain him unless I had no other good option. 

If you own Rossi or Vela it’s hard not to play them any week. Rossi might have underwhelmed high expectations so far but he’s doing fine and getting regular chances. I like Colorado and would be happy to play their attackers, hard to see them shutting out LAFC though. 

Josef Martinez – More of a general pick rather than one for the weekend as he is up against the Sounders which is usually one to dodge. But as per my Monday review, Martinez has dropped hard in price after a slow start but he looks to be improving. Looking a value pick up for a premium side. 

 

Mid-Price Range – Balanced quality/value

Pulido I’ve stuck with despite a slow start and that’s starting to get rewarded. He was in my picks last week too, and against the Quakes he could do some damage again.

Cavallini I was down on along with Vancouver but now that he has dropped in price he is worth revisiting. He is getting regular chances despite his blanks. I love to target players like this who appear to be on a downer but are doing better than most people realise because they are often value. 

Buksa is another who I’ve been backing but started the season slowly. Finally got the reward that was always coming last week though and he’s got the threat to do it again. Tough-ish fixture but I’d still back him. Alternatively, team mate Bou is viable and cheaper due to a recent injury. But he is fit again and getting chances. I prefer Buksa, though. 

Nani is out of the budget price range as he was in my pre-season picks and has played his way into mid-range. Looks good, still value. He was just very undervalued before. Decent fixture.

Mora – As per my Monday match report Portland’s Mora is getting regular chances and is deeply unfortunate to blank in 3 games. The Galaxy are surprisingly solid at the back but Mora looks a threat.

Budget Picks – Cheap underdogs who can punch above their weight

 

Urruti – He should be budget in theory but there is only one card available right now and someone is gouging for mid-price money which I would not pay. If he can be had cheaply though Urruti has a good fixture versus the Caps and is looking dangerous.

Wolondowski – Old but gold. More threat per minute than anyone in the league, and fiendishly unlucky not to score last week. 

 

My Picks

Budget

Mid-Price

Premium

Midfielders

Premiums – Pricey, but worth it. 

Guess it’s time for the weekly mention of how good Gil is. He’s been an ever present in my picks since pre-season and he is showing why. Definitely amongst the very best MLS midfielders you can pull out this weekend. And for $1,150 to $1,400 I think that is a fair price for a premium side even now. 

Cade Cowell makes it in – whilst Kansas are a tough fixture the Quakes look really strong in attack. In no small part due to Cowell who looks good despite blanking for 3 games.

Jesus Medina – I was not a fan of NYFC’s Medina in pre-season due to a high price and I am wary of players who end the previous season with a hotstreak – it can over inflate them.

But he has justified the price and has been genuinely impressive. Colombus are better than they let on but they should be targetted in such poor form.  

I still wince a bit at the price of $1,400+ which is even higher than it was. I probably wouldn’t pay it… but if you have him you’d probably want to play him. 

Mid-Price Range – Balanced quality/value

Leal. I was big on him in pre-season and early season, and he did so well. Seems to have faded a bit in his SO5 scores but the underlying numbers are good. Nashville have a good fixture. I’m keen. 

Lewis Morgan – Bad start. But he’s got better as per previous reviews. And Miami look pretty good bets against Chicago who have been leaky.  

 

Budget Picks – Cheap underdogs who can punch above their weight

Espinoza has been looking good for the Quakes who I am liking due to their big goal threat. No goals or assists for Espinoza in 3 but he’s close to both. And that dry spell makes him cheap. Value. 

Valeri – More a form pick than a fixture. Portland’s Valeri is really strong and was rested last time. Galaxy have looked surprisingly tough at the back but in the budget end we can’t have everything. 

Kinda at Kansas has been doing really well with a 68 and a 69 in the last 3 games and it’s no accident. I liked him in my pre-season preview and I like his consistent recent numbers more. Salloi would be a good alternative actually for a mid-price budget as I noted in my last match report. But the current prices look a bit steep. 

My Picks

Budget

Mid-Price

Premium

Defenders

Premiums – Pricey, but worth it. 

I’ve been a fan of Lovitz who sits in a solid defence in Nashville but also brings fantastic assist potential for those big spikey scores. Good fixture. In he goes. 

Eryk Williamson is a big improver this season and has a nice trend profile as a 22 year old. Good recent scores pump the price a bit but they aren’t undeserved and I think he will suit a premium side. 

Mid-Price Range – Balanced quality/value

Chanot at NYFC is becoming something of a regular here because he’s very solid and can score well even when NYFC concede. On raw stats, Columbus are amongst the worst sides for attacking threat although that doesn’t really tally with what we know about that team. I’d still back Chanot if I had him although watch team news because he’s a doubt. 

Arreaga is one I’ve mentioned in the budget picks a few times but good results gets him a promotion to mid-price. Seattle have a great schedule ahead beyond this game week and are in great form. One concern is that Atlanta like to play football which may limit Seattle’s baselines this weekend. But he has a decent chance of getting a clean sheet at least out of it and as a pick in general I like Arreaga. 

Budget Picks – Cheap underdogs who can punch above their weight

Brandon Bye. We can bring back Brandon Bye at New England who I’ve been big on all season as a budget pick. Creeping up in price now after some good displays. Clean sheet potential this week and he is well capable of both goals and assists. 

Ryan Hollingshead. Once a premium, now in the budget range due to a couple of poor scores. The knee jerk decisions you get on this platform are incredible, and I’ve seen some things in these trading games over the years. He’s doing fine. Value in general and a good fixture on the way. 

My Picks

Budget

Mid-Price

Premium

Goalkeepers

The part of the selections where the lack of value means there are no great choices. But some are better than others. 

Premiums – Pricey, but worth it. 

I’ll back Willis from Nashville. Ironically, it wasn’t long ago he sat in my budget picks because a slow start for Nashville sent people running for the exit. This was really silly. He was clearly unlucky to concede so many and 3 clean sheets on the bounce has changed attitudes again fast. 

Mid-Price Range – Balanced quality/value

I will go for Gallese in the mid-range for the second week running as he did not let me down, and I’m keen on the Orlando defence in general. They face Toronto this weekend who have not exactly been firing on all cylinders in the absence of key players. I’m not entirely sure he counts as mid-range anymore but that’s the madness of the GK category on this platform. 

Budget Picks – Cheap underdogs who can punch above their weight

Tough category because the cheap ones are usually cheap for a reason i.e they might be replaced soon. And the cheapest starters aren’t that cheap and generally belong to poor teams. 

I’ll recall McCarthy even though I think Chicago Fire have a decent attack. It’s a far from ideal choice but I don’t want to pick a cheaper keeper I know will be replaced before long. Alternatively you could go for Guzan with a long term view, even if he is likely to concede versus the Sounders.

Budget

Mid-Price

Premium

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