By CASEY CANNON
Hello and Welcome to the Soccer by Ives Fantasy Corner – now with more snow on the pitch! Every week I dig through statistics, news, and rumors to provide the reader with the kind of fantasy advice that only the last MLS fan paying attention can provide.
Well back in my younger days there were these MLS playoffs and as I recall four teams played for the right to play in the MLS Championship game. Back then there were all sorts of players to write about and fun choices to be made. Now, it’s just two teams facing off in the MLS championship and 30 or so players to choose from. This week it’s important to squeeze maximum value out of every pick.
If memory serves I wrote something along the lines of the “Goal Fest Out West” regarding the RSL at Portland game. It’s possible I was somewhat off on that prediction. On the flip side I correctly predicted the Eastern Conference finals. I expected 2-0 and it was only the early deflected goal that gave the 2-1 final score line. For the playoffs, I am 9-3-1.
That is a good string of results but perhaps not good enough to make up 185 points and vault into first place. Currently in first place is EternalBluForeverGrn with a commanding 24 point lead on second place Marmots. KFC Official is one week from having the highest weekly score for the entire post season. He has pulled off the impressive feat of leading from the wildcard all the way to the finals. FC SLC was the high score of the week with 71 points.
On my team I have discovered a great new way to pass the time. I pulled the caparoo. Switched off Collin to Will Johnson. That went poorly for me. To be clear I threw away eight points. Now I get to check the standings in each league and think about where I would be if I hadn’t thrown away those points. (Tied with Ben Jata in 45th place overall).
Instead I’m in 56th overall 24th in SBI. Feel free to look. I know I’ll look a few more times. Here’s your MLS Cup Final fantasy preview:
MLS CUP FINAL
In my head I call it a coin flip. Let’s look at the pro’s and cons.
- RSL Pro: They just shut out the offensive powerhouse Portland Timbers on the road.
- RSL Con: They lost the U.S. Open Cup final at home to D.C. United.
- SKC Pro: They are at home
- SKC Con: A vague sense of distrust in a season’s worth of results. Yes, they were one of the best teams in the MLS but there were too many disappointing losses and unconvincing wins to make me comfortable. It feels like going to a bar where there were no murders committed on property.
- Mitigating Factor: Both teams have played only two games in the last month so at this point they may have all new tactics, alignments and ailments.
In the end I will depend on my spreadsheet. It says that SKC has a 29% chance to earn a shut out, and a 23% chance of being shut out. The most likely score in regular time is 1-1. The second most likely is a 1-0 SKC win. The Ivy Funds have a 44% chance to win outright, a 26% chance to draw and RSL has a 31% chance to win. So call it 59% to 41% roughly. I will go with a SKC win. Call it 2-1 in overtime.
Individual picks – MLS Cup
Goalkeeper – I think Jimmy Nielsen gives up one fewer goal. In the process I hope he makes more saves than Nick Rimando. OK, so this isn’t in depth reporting. Take the keeper from the team you think will win. I say is Neilsen.
Defense - Aurelien Collin, Chris Schuler, Seth Sinovic, Nat Borchers, and Matt Besler. I don’t expect a lot of goals so five defenders are in order. There is nothing tricky here. These are the top five defenders three from SKC and two from RSL. All can produce points without earning a shutout.
Midfield – Javier Morales, Graham Zusi, Benny Feilhaber, and Kyle Beckerman. Oh goodness this is going to be a low scoring week. When Beckerman is ahead of most forwards it’s gonna be a slow night. I wouldn’t knock anyone who takes Oriol Rosell or Luis Gil ahead of Beckerman but of the three, Beckerman has the highest PPG and form.
Forward - Robbie Findley, Alvaro Saborio or C.J. Sapong. Sapong is trying to become the new Kai Kamara while the RSL forwards vie for the coveted “Not the Guy Fawkes forward, the other guy” role. One will start and the other will be unhappy. If you can, wait till the starting lineups are announced before making the picks. If that isn’t an option go with Sapong, if only because we can be reasonably sure he will get the start Saturday.
Captain – Aurélien Collin Top of the spreadsheet with points per game. Last week he didn’t get a shutout, assist or goal and still earned eight points. Also has the highest form of all Ivy Fund players AND he was tied for the most points on his team last round. If SKC wins, Collin will need a big day.
That’s it. Come back next season for more fantasy soccer fun. Good luck everybody.