by Harrison Crow (@Harrison_Crow)
I'm not sure that many of us knew what to make of Orlando City prior to this season. Sure, they spent some money and got some interesting talents but that doesn't always translate to something or even anything, ask Toronto. But Kaka has turned out to be maybe the best player in Major League Soccer, Aurélien Collin is still a very good defender and it turns out that Kevin Molino (before ripping his ACL in half) was an above average MLS winger.
Right now, Orlando City looks like a potential playoff team. The big difference between them and, say, the LA Galaxy who are actually sitting in a playoff position is Orlando's horrible home record. Which is all kinds of crazy considering they're sitting second in home attendence with over 39,000.
You have to think that if they can unearth a striker--or maybe just borrow some of Phil Rawlings millions to buy one--who can take advantage of all the chances that Ricardo creates, Orlando may just be a formidable team come the end of this season. Also there is a chance that I might have "borrowed" bath salts from Rafael Ramos.
New England is picking right up where they left off last season. But this time they're doing it in a bit more sustainable fashion. Currently the Red, White and Blue are posting great expected goal numbers in both zero-gamestate situations and overall.
Lee Nguyen isn't overperforming his expected goal numbers astronomically like he did last season, but the Revs don't need him to do that this go-round. Kelyn Rowe is having a break out season, Chris Tierney stepping up to create goal scoring opportunities and Juan Agudelo (who is 3rd in expected goals) is everything they needed him to be last year to be when he went on his sabbatical to the Netherlands, driving a camper between Utrecht and various Scottish cities along the border of England with the hope some magic gate would open to... Stoke (I might have vomitted in my mouth a bit typing that).
New England has seen a once mighty generation come and go with little-to-nothing to show for it. This time around their window is open with the pieces needed to start to fill that trophy case that sits right next to the case of deflated balls that Tom Brady (the greatest of all time! I lost a bet. Don't ask.) has attempted to hide.
The real question is will they be able to keep their expected goals against so low? Don't misunderstand me; it's not as if we're really expecting regression with opposing clubs and their scoring rates. New England is still sitting in the middle of the pack, but considering how horrible they were last year (in the bottom third) and with losing perhaps their top defender... it's just a head-scratcher that they've improved in this manner. I'm going to chalk it up to Jay Heaps and his transition from the Just for Men to Just for Men Touch of Gray.
On a positive note, the team appears set to bring in local boy Will Packwood from Birmingham, England on a discovery claim (assuming they do have sole custody of his rights) which should help supplement a defense that at times has looked unsettled and needing some... well something better. Let's just see how this plays out, Cotton.
Prediction: I'm going with New England on the road with the win.
Kaka (20.6% Selected, $11.4 Cost)
Ugh, the guy is the best player in the league. The best. Forget what he costs. Best. Player.
Rafael Ramos (12.2% Selected, $5.2 Cost)
So long as you're fine with the unmedicated outbursts that result in red cards from time to time burning your fantasy club to the ground, I'm sure you'll get along fine.
Bobby Shuttleworth (6.1% Selected, $5.6 Cost)
I think it's funny how much I get bent out of shape about the disparity between the cost of keepers and their points versus any other position. Most people look at Shuttleworth and think "5.6, WHOA, not made of money here" but really considering what any keeper provides versus their costs. There seems to be one right answer.
Lee Nguyen (4.7% Selected, $11.1 Cost)
He's still really good. Probably not $11 good. But good enough to where it might draw a few suckers.
THE WEEKEND MATCH-UPS
(expected goal differential in even game-states)
New England Revolution (0.43) @ Orlando City SC (0.06)
San Jose Quakes (-0.05) @ Colorado Rapids (-0.30)
Real Salt Lake (-0.35) @ Chicago Fire (-0.28)
Portland Timbers (0.12) @ Montreal Impact (-0.10)
Sporting KC (0.71) @ DC United (-0.46)
Predictions: SCREW YOU, DCU... I'm going with SKC
Philadelphia Union (-0.26) @ Vancouver Whitecaps FC (-0.06)
Seattle Sounders FC (0.88) @ Columbus Crew SC (0.23)
LA Galaxy (0.06) @ FC Dallas (0.14)
Houston Dynamo (-0.14) @ Toronto FC (0.13)
New York City (-0.48) @ New York Red Bulls (0.11)