Welcome to the Sorare focused MLS highlights from Sorare gameweek #168!

It’s another goal fest with few clean sheets on the board, only Orlando, Philadelphia, Nashville, Portland and Chicago managed it. Just 5 out of 26 teams there. In such a free scoring league, this further validates my belief that a lower budget side wants a cheap warm body in the net rather than splurging on a premium keeper.

This frees up funds for other players who can likely return more points per $. 

You can however predict clean sheets for good sides. So a higher budget team does want a good keeper. For example of the 3 keepers I picked out on Friday Gallese and Willis were both amongst that select group of 5 with a clean sheet. McCarthy, my budget choice, did not, he conceded 1 (a personal howler for him) yet managed to score 46 anyway which is respectable for the money. 

Willis is vastly more expensive and got a clean sheet yet that gets 63, an additional 14 points over McCarthy – not really worth paying more than double for. Gallese exploded with 83 due to an exceptional week where he saved everything, but this is something you can’t really predict in a one off game.

So that’s an observation on goalkeepers. But more generally, we can also see here that our predictions are getting better. Both because teams tend to settle after 5-6 games and because we have more recent data to work with.

And, in my little man versus machine test from Friday where I was using my own intuition and recent data versus the betting odds and algorithms I think we can chalk this up as a win for humanity. I love algorithms but they do tend to take a while to catch up with recent events, so we can use this to gain a little edge.

For example, algorithm and betting were dead set on an NYFC win but I wasn’t entirely convinced in my Friday preview. Columbus have been very poor recently but also a little unlucky and we know they have quality. NYFC were also injury hit, something an algorithm won’t always factor in. Columbus won. 

Houston were heavy favourites against Vancouver but I picked out Cavallini as someone who could do damage and he got an assist. Losers can be winners on Sorare.

LAFC were billed to smash Colorado but I wasn’t convinced it would be a walkover. I did back Rossi as my premium forward and he scored a brace. But I didn’t see it as one sided as the Rapids are good. They did manage to score and it was recent site favourite Rubin who assisted. 

Lots of examples like this. 

Portland however did smash LA Galaxy as expected by the algorithm – I had thought this might be more even. An early red card for Galaxy probably didn’t help, it was 0-0 before that. Portland’s Mora went on to get a brace –  I’ve been banging on about him being ready to make his comeback for the last two articles. 

In last week’s match report I said on MoraReally close for a third consecutive game. If he keeps this up he’s going to pop up with a goal or even two one of these weekends, I tell ya.” Didn’t have to wait long. 

Key takeaway for me – there aren’t many lazy shortcuts to good analysis. 

Pay attention to algorithm and betting odds but remember these can a) take a while to catch up with recent performances, since they tend to average out recent and historic results. And b) they aren’t designed for the Sorare game where even the losers can be winners, so we shouldn’t write off decent players with tough fixtures.

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New York City FC vs Columbus Crew

As above, NYFC were heavy favourites but nobody stuck to the script. Columbus winning 1-2. 

I remain optimistic on NYFC assets though – they had a boatload of chances to score and if reality reflected the raw stats NYFC should have walked this game. 

Castellanos who I’ve been keen on including in my Friday preview got 66 and an assist, so holders won’t be too put out with the loss. He also had 7 efforts, including good chances. This could have been a 90+ game. Castellanos looks golden for a higher mid-price or premium squad.

Medina had another good game despite blanking. Again, he’s expensive so not great value but you can’t doubt that he looks like a consistent high scorer. And 52 on an off day? Really not bad at all.

They are missing Moralez and Tinnerholm, two who have consistently had good reviews ever since my pre-season previews. Both on the way back soon and Moralez made it on from the bench here. Both great value players who can score big, and no doubt the injuries will have suppressed the price further. Great for budget sides. 

I’ve also been low-key keen on Parks who may not be a regular 75+ point player. But his consistent 50-60’s given his age of 23 makes him a reliable squad player for a mid-price team, or a good budget pick. He managed 62 here without doing anything unusual, that’s good moneyball (points per $). 

You can watch Tajouri-Shradi as a budget option, he scored here and with regular minutes I’d back him. But with Moralez on the way back he may struggle. 

Columbus have quality but are actually lucky to have such a free kick powerhouse in Zelarayan to dig them out of holes. They weren’t great here and on raw stats deserved to lose yet again.

However, they are massively underperforming their potential so there is a good chance they get better. I quite like to target good teams on a bad run because they can be cheap. I’d particularly be looking at Zardes here. He was a premium striker in pre-season that most high budget sides would want. 

Abysmal record this season and he doesn’t even look close to scoring in truth. But look at his record. He can be a goal machine and if you are willing to make a bet that Columbus improve these are the moments you can potentially get a top player for a cut price. 

I also have time for Afful as a budget defender. Decent baselines, so can get a respectable score without doing much. And usually, he has good assist potential though that has been lacking. But that is as much to do with Columbus being very poor as anything. He is certainly in the right positions to create chances. 

So again, if you back Columbus to improve it will be someone like Afful feeding Zardes if and when they click into gear. 

New England vs New York RB

New England have consistently impressed me throughout the season and they brought in another haul of big scores here.

Gil did Gil things. He’s been my standout pick in midfield all season. 81 here and he did not even score or assist. But he easily could have done both to make 100. If anything, he is only getting better. If I had a premium team he’d be the first name on my team sheet right now.

Some New England players have been looking good without getting the rewards they deserve though, until now.

Bou was the star of the show with 94. I warmed to him in recent reviews after a price drop and a couple of blanks, plus a short injury. Goal and assist here, and this is no fluke. He’s looking consistent. In the Friday preview I said I preferred Buksa. He also scored and ran up a nice SO5 score of 66. On Friday I said:

“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.” 

Both have a good performance under the belt this weekend. And both look good value. I’d be happy with either but to tiebreak I’d still go Buksa as he is 8 years younger. 

Brandon Bye has been a regular budget pick and I love him for the budget defender category. It’s a poor score of 28 this week but I wouldn’t let that put us off. He had a golden chance to find the net which he didn’t take. He’s a budget defender with strong goal and assist potential. Capable of big peaks as he showed last week.

At NYRB Caden Clark is still the star – 17 years old and looks good in reality and for SO5. Time for my grumble that he is not yet available – but he should be out in the new season MLS cards. 

It’s a pity that a good early season will have pushed his price up, as we could have gone for him early before his ability became more obvious. Still, he looks quality if you can get him at any kind of reasonable price.

Royer is getting more pitch time and one of these days he will likely prove himself undervalued – he should have a couple of goals this season already given the chances he has had. Nothing so far, but if he keeps it up it will come. Perhaps a good budget side pick, or a rotation option for a more expensive squad. 

I’ve also got time for Fabio who hasn’t got cards out yet, but should in the new season batch. No goals so far but he has really strong threat actually, and has managed 3 assists which he is a bit lucky to have. But unlucky not to have at least a couple of goals. He could be a good under the radar choice that could fill the Forward slot in a mid-price team. 

I am also keen on Casseres for consistent midfield goal and assist potential in a budget side.

 

San Jose Earthquakes and Kansas City

I made a big deal of this game in my Friday preview as I saw goals in it on both sides – we got them. 1 – 3 to Kansas. 

I’m particularly pleased with Pulido who scored and assisted (wondergoal, by the way). He was my mid-price Forward pick on Friday. But more than that, he started the season slowly and I highlighted that he was worth sticking with. I remember chatting to someone in the Sorare Discord who has been a long time site reader – he was wanting off the Pulido wagon after a couple of false starts.

But we need to avoid this urge to drop a low scoring SO5 player who is actually doing ok in the underlying numbers. Not least because a low scoring player likely has to be sold cheaply. We should be buying these players if anything, not selling them. 

Whether a player actually scores or not is not as important to us as whether a player is in the right positions and getting chances. Because if they are, goals probably flow eventually. But a goal or a good SO5 score on it’s own? Doesn’t tell you anything about whether it will happen again.

Pulido has monstrous threat here with 8 efforts, the sort of thing you generally only see from a Lewandowski or general golden boot contender. Looking good.

I also highlighted Salloi in my Friday preview, he weighed in with a goal and assist too. Solid mid-price pick.

Kinda is my budget Kansas player of choice. SO5 didn’t like him much this week with 49. I like him better – he was actually really close to scoring again. And 49 for a cheap player on an off day? Solid. Looks great for a budget team.

For the Earthquakes, I backed Espinoza and Wondolowski as budget picks in the midfield and forward categories respectively. Espinoza came through with the assist for a very respectable 66 given his low price. I’m a fan – he could be consistent.

Wondolowski did not score but hey, he had a really good chance. And he created great chances too. Whilst he generally appears from the bench, in per minute terms he is one of the most dangerous players in this league so I like him for a budget team. Old but gold. 

Impressive youngster Cade Cowell appears to be going off the boil. 4 blanks and 4 poor SO5 scores. I think he is doing much better than that record lets on. Throughout that spell he’s getting regular opportunities to score, and has created some chances too. 

These are the moments when the shine can come off a good youngster. But we know he’s actually doing fine. So if you are going to, get them whilst people think they are doing poorly, rather than waiting for that hot streak to come along and then hysterically piling in at a higher price. 

It actually hurts my brain to see people chasing players after a run of big scores. But it’s not surprising because humans are really vulnerable to this Fear of Missing Out. 

What we really want to do is sign good players who appear to be doing appallingly

 

Best of the Rest

Montreal have had some poor results after a good start. Losing to Cincinnati is not a good look. However they are unfortunate on paper, they created so many chances. I wouldn’t worry too much about Montreal yet.

Quioto did well anyway. He’s a budget/mid-price Montreal player I’ve been keen on and he chipped in with another assist here. No sweating on him required he’s ticking along nicely. Youngster Mihailovic started the season too pricey for my taste, but he’s decent, and is now dropping into mid-range territory where he can be considered value.  

Cincinatti were better, chalking up a much needed win. But they were fortunate to get away with conceding just 1 really, could have been 3+. I’d still put any reasonable attacker up versus Cincy for the foreseeable they look leakier than a bucket that’s taken 100 rounds from a machine gun. Not sure there are any of their assets I’d rush to buy, Locadia is worth watching. 

How long can this dry spell for Beric at Chicago go on? Nothing in 5 games. Yet he had great chances again this weekend. He was a premium level forward in pre-season but he’s sunk to mid-price now. He should be amongst the MLS top scorers in theory. I’d consider him a steal at $750 because if he keeps doing what he is doing the goals will come. And that’s an Adam FT Guarantee*.

*Absolutely not a guarantee. But he probably will.

In a similar vein to Beric, I’ve been highlighting Mora at Portland who has been looking really dangerous yet getting nothing for all his efforts. Until now – he scored a brace to reward patient holders. This is what good trading is about – finding the underperformers who are actually doing just fine and then picking them up so that when the big day comes you are positioned nicely. Both he and Valeri (who scored a penalty) look strong value at Portland. 

Hollingshead’s descent from premium to budget defender has been a thought crime. I said so last week, and the Sorare team had the same view. He had his revenge on panic sellers with a solid 78 this weekend. He was always doing fine, one of the strongest full backs in the league for assist potential. Sometimes when we have a quality player, we have to know when to stop tinkering. 

Salt Lake did well versus Dallas to get a 2-2 draw. Two picks I’ve been keen on did the damage – Kreilach from my budget friday picks the week before last appears again with a goal. Really solid player for the money. And Rubin chipped in as well – I’m really keen on him and it’s a shame cards have not been available. He’s made his ability too obvious now with good SO5 scores so he might get a high price tag when new cards are launched. Grumble grumble. 

The Sounders were checked by Atlanta – not a surprise as Atlanta have a solid defence. Ruidiaz didn’t mind, he’s so dangerous and adds another goal. A top MLS forward no doubt but I’ve raved about him enough. The Sounders have a great schedule ahead so I’d continue to back them in attack and defence. 

Speaking of defence Tolo just can’t stop scoring big. I’ve been favouring Arreaga as a more budget friendly option and he’s done great. But it’s hard to ignore how consistently Tolo is racking up those duels and interception points. Looking great for a higher mid-price and premium side and I wish I’d picked up on this earlier. I must put more weight on the points available for these duels in future.

At Atlanta I’ve been highlighting another potential comeback story in Josef Martinez. He scores again and is looking much more like his old self. He came into the season at an eye watering price so he didn’t get great reviews in my pre-season preview. 

But after sluggish early performances his price dropped like a stone bringing him into value range. He isn’t value anymore though. Look at this madness – 5-6 days ago you could pick him up for $750 dollars. Cheapest on the market now? $1,500+ because he scored a goal.

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back Thursday (or possibly Friday) with my usual preview of the next game week. 

And if you find these articles helpful, I’d really appreciate it if you shared them with your friends or on social media. 

Best,

Adam.

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