Kenny Miller

ASA Fantasy League Update Round 1: Gotta Have Higuain by Drew Olsen

MLS Fantasy players, it's that time of the week to make your transfers--if you haven't already--and get that starting XI ready for the weekend. Obviously the big winners of the week are basically anyone who owned either Mauro Rosales, Mario Diaz---or to go in a different direction, less 'M' related direction---Federico Higuain. Didn't have any of those picks? Not a big deal, now is a team to reload and get cleaned up. We've got round 2 this weekend with some interesting match-ups. Here is the dream XI for last week:

DreamTeam-week1

And here are the current league standings as of round 1.

# Team   Manager    RD   %AARd    TOT     Team$     Captain    Points
1 Khal Jogo Bazzo 79 1.927 79 119.3 Rosales 12
2 This Stuff Kicks Cris Pannullo 75 1.829 75 120.7 Keane 4
2 Major League Clowns Tom Worville 75 1.829 75 118.8 Higuain 22
4 Bridgeburners FC Chris Gluck 74 1.805 74 120.2 Valeri 4
5 Cal Poly FC Emil Barycki 73 1.780 73 115.2 Higuain 22
6 En Fuego e margolis 70 1.707 70 120.3 Nagbe 6
7 LingeringwithIntent Jason Onorati 69 1.683 69 119.1 Higuain 22
8 The Other Higuain Jacob Beckett 64 1.561 64 119.7 Urruti 4
8 A.S. Trincamp Martin F 64 1.561 64 119.3 Higuian 22
10 DallasTilIDie Benjamin Hester 62 1.512 62 116.6 Keane 4
11 Real Sporting Utd FC Eric J. Walcott 60 1.463 60 118 Valeri 4
12 WOMBATZ Casey Cannon 59 1.439 59 114.6 Higuain 22
13 NotToBeFeared Harrison Crow 53 1.293 53 119.6 Keane 4
14 PasarChino! Jason Poon 48 1.171 48 120.2 Higuain 22
15 Amrodg Mick Lathrop 44 1.073 44 116.2 Martins 4
16 PDX Hoosiers Brad Snook 39 0.951 39 120.2 Nagbe 6
16 Draft Code United Louis Pardillo 39 0.951 39 119.5 Beiler 0
18 PortlandatHeart Forrest Ellis 34 0.829 34 118.7 Valeri 4
19 Tootie Urruti Drew Olsen 33 0.805 33 118.6 Magee 0
20 letskillrobots Bill Vegas 22 0.537 22 117.6 Magee 0
 Averages 56.8 1.385  56.8 118.62 9.4

RD: Round Points

%AARd: Percentage Above Average Round Points

Team$: How much the team spent on their players

A quick thought---and my heart goes out to our own PasarChino! for this one---you gotta start Rimando, buddy! You sat the highest point total in the league. Ouch! As for our crew here at ASA, most of us (Jacob, Drew, Jason, myself and poor Bill) did okay, with the most notable stand out of the bunch being Cris Pannullo and a bit farther down Chris Gluck. We'll head to the next round and see if those two can distance themselves from the rest of the ASA community.

Again, this is for an undisclosed, not-yet-valued prize that is available to all whom play. It could be a Meatloaf interactive blu-ray, it could be a soccer ball, it could be a scarf of your choosing. Matty might spend a couple hours on Skype teaching you how to use R. Who knows what we'll come up with. The only promise is that it won't be terrible. Code to enter is 9593-1668, should you care to join in the fun/recklessness that is fantasy sports.

The three teams that are noticeably absent this round are Columbus Crew, DC United and LA Galaxy. I'm sure this will kind of cause a bit of reshuffling to occur as many, including myself, had been sporting Robbie Keane as their captain, and it will most certainly require some movement along the bench. But this is where you earn the coveted prize. No, not the Sheva, though I'm sure we can come up with an equally inspiring annual trophy name.

I'm sure you all have better advice/thoughts than what I have for MLS fantasy, so I'll point you towards a couple of sites that have some stats and feed back on last week.

- Mr. Fantasy, Ben Jata, recaps the hap's with round 1.

- Big D Soccer does a nice preview of not just Dallas FC players but also some thoughts on MLS as a whole.

- Sticking with the Texas theme, Dynamo Theory has some fantastic numbers/stuff that deserves recognition for their work. Great job by TraviTheRabbi and I would say give him a follow on twitter but I don't see any such thing connected to his account, and that makes me a sad panda. Anyways...go read the article here. Solid, solid stuff.

I leave you with the current top-50 hottest players being selected as of 10:30 last night. I've equipped you to make some good decisions. Now go forth and conquer. The catch is that only one of you will win. Anyone have any top secrets for how they plan on winning the league? I hear finding people that stop goals and in return score goals are really good to have? Any other methods or suggestions?

Player  Team   Pos   Selected   Price   Round   Total 
Sarkodie HOU DEF 33.9% $6.6 9 9
Remick SEA DEF 33.8% $4.1 8 8
Fagundez NE MID 28.9% $8.0 3 3
Yedlin SEA DEF 26.0% $7.5 7 7
Kennedy CHV GKP 25.6% $4.5 4 4
Fondy CHV FWD 24.9% $4.0 0 0
Rimando RSL GKP 23.3% $6.1 15 15
Magee CHI FWD 21.5% $10.5 0 0
Bruin HOU FWD 21.2% $8.2 15 15
Zusi KC MID 20.6% $11.0 3 3
Plata RSL FWD 20.1% $7.0 9 9
Griffiths COL DEF 19.3% $4.0 0 0
Moor COL DEF 18.6% $7.0 0 0
Collin KC DEF 18.0% $10.0 3 3
Loyd DAL DEF 17.9% $5.5 0 0
Jewsbury POR DEF 17.7% $6.5 2 2
Nagbe POR MID 17.1% $9.5 3 3
Juninho LA MID 17.0% $7.0 3 3
Keane LA FWD 17.0% $10.9 2 2
Cronin SJ MID 17.0% $6.5 0 0
Porter DC MID 16.7% $5.0 1 1
Ricketts POR GKP 16.7% $6.0 5 5
Harrington POR DEF 16.5% $7.5 3 3
Jimenez CLB MID 16.0% $5.5 6 6
Rosales CHV MID 14.7% $7.6 12 12
Hall HOU GKP 14.3% $6.0 8 8
Valeri POR MID 14.1% $10.5 2 2
Wondolowski SJ FWD 13.6% $9.5 0 0
Higuaín CLB FWD 13.5% $10.5 11 11
Burling CHV DEF 12.7% $5.1 9 9
McNamara CHV MID 12.6% $4.6 7 7
Ashe HOU DEF 12.6% $7.1 11 11
Malki MTL MID 12.6% $4.0 0 0
Donovan LA MID 12.5% $11.0 7 7
Moffat DAL MID 12.2% $5.9 0 0
Palmer-Brown KC DEF 11.6% $4.0 0 0
Defoe TOR FWD 11.6% $10.5 0 0
Horst HOU DEF 11.5% $5.6 8 8
Melia CHV GKP 11.1% $3.0 0 0
Parke DC DEF 10.7% $6.9 2 2
Martins SEA FWD 10.7% $9.5 2 2
Bradley TOR MID 10.4% $10.0 0 0
McBean LA FWD 10.0% $5.0 0 0
E. Miller MTL DEF 9.8% $4.5 2 2
MacMath PHI GKP 9.6% $5.0 3 3
Manneh VAN FWD 9.6% $6.5 1 1
Urruti POR FWD 9.4% $7.0 2 2
Messoudi MTL MID 9.0% $4.0 0 0
Henry NY FWD 8.9% $11.0 0 0
Franklin DC DEF 8.8% $7.9 2 2

Season Preview: Vancouver Whitecaps by Drew Olsen

The Vancouver Whitecaps are still one of Major League Soccer’s newest teams, as 2014 will be just their fourth season in the league. However, the franchise has already shown a penchant for rather high turnover, both among its players and coaches. Seen through an optimist’s viewpoint, this could be commendable, as the front office is never satisfied with mediocrity and clearly strives for success. From a pessimist’s point of view, the constant tinkering robs the club of any semblance of stability and contributes to the team’s mediocrity. Either way, 2014 will be a fascinating time to watch Vancouver as they look to return to the postseason. 2013 Finish: 48 Points, 7th in the Western Conference, Missed MLS Playoffs

vancouverXI

Player Added Position Acquired from: Name Position To
Christian Dean D  2014 SuperDraft (Cal) Lee Young-Pyo D Retired
Andre Lewis M 2014 SuperDraft (NY Cosmos) Greg Klazura D Option Declined
Mehdi Ballouchy M San Jose Joe Cannon GK Option Declined
Steven Beitashour D San Jose Simon Thomas GK Option Declined
Sebastian Fernandez M/F Loan - (Boston River) Brad Rusin D Option Declined
Nicolas Mezquida M/F Free Transfer (Boston River) Jun Marques Davidson M Option Declined
      Daigo Kobayashi M New England
      Tommy Heinemann F Option Declined
      Corey Hertzog F Option Declined
      Brad Knighton GK New England
      Camilo F Queretaro (Mexico)

Roster Churn: 58.82% returning minutes (4th lowest in MLS)

Vancouver Whitecaps' 2014 Roster

Their 2013 was underwhelming, and could probably be filed as underachieving. Based on roster talent alone, Vancouver probably should have made the playoffs in 2013, just as they did in 2012. But for a variety of reasons, the Whitecaps never quite got it together and missed out on the postseason by three points. As mentioned, the individual talent was certainly there: Brazilian striker Camilo won the Golden Boot by hammering home 22 goals, Nigel Reo-Coker is as powerful a central midfielder as you'll find in MLS, and Russell Teibert flashed the potential of a franchise cornerstone. Truth be told, a lot of issues seemed to stem from the chronic indecision in the franchise, whether it was the front office acquiring goalkeepers like they're penny stocks, or manager Martin Rennie changing tactics as though he was in an Old Navy dressing room.

VANINFOAll in all, Vancouver finished above .500 with a positive goal differential, but an awful, late-season stretch saw them win just two of twelve games, surrendering any real hopes of title contention. According to a key off-season personnel decision, Vancouver may believe the main culprit for underachieving was Rennie himself, who was relieved of his duties. Some of his lineup choices often seemed like puzzles for team beat reporters---who were constantly guessing as to who was being shifted to what position---and his apparent inability to see eye-to-eye with talented players like Darren Mattocks can't have helped his chances at keeping the job in 2014. Regardless of the front office's reasoning, Vancouver will return in 2014 with a new coach, and a few key faces missing. 

Vancouver’s offseason was, in a word, turbulent. First, they swung for the fences in filling their coaching vacancy by approaching former US and Egyptian national team coach Bob Bradley. They struck out on that front, but ‘Caps fans will be hoping they knocked a solid base hit with the appointment of former assistant Carl Robinson.

Then, there were a couple of ugly sagas revolving around a few players---chiefly Camilo, last season’s Golden Boot winner. Basically, Mexican club Queretaro came to an agreement for the Brazilian forward to join their club despite the fact that Camilo’s contract with Vancouver was supposed to extend through the 2014 season. The player made it clear that he planned to play in Mexico this year, so eventually a fee was agreed to compensate the Whitecaps, but they still lost their top player from last season. Finally, fans were surprised to find out that draft pick Andre Lewis had apparently already signed a contract to play for the NASL’s New York Cosmos. The team and league both eventually covered themselves by saying that an agreement was already in place for Lewis to play this season in MLS with the ‘Caps, but all in all, a boring offseason this was not.

As the 2014 season gets set to begin, Vancouver is one of just a few teams in the league that don’t appear to be as good as last year. Camilo and fullback Lee Young-Pyo are both huge losses, as they were easily two of the club’s best players last season. They did fairly well in replacing Y.P. Lee by trading for Steven Beitashour, who is probably an above-average left back in the league. However, none of this offseason’s other additions appear to have the potential to help replace Camilo’s goal-scoring ability.

That said, the Whitecaps still have a good deal of talent on their roster. Even without Camilo, their forwards include former #1 overall draft pick Omar Salgado as well as #2 overall pick Darren Mattocks. Both have had issues staying healthy and on the same page as the coaching staff, but their draft position alone should signal some of their potential. They’ve also got Kenny Miller, a long-time Scottish international who is a very good playmaker in his own right, as well as Kekuta Manneh, another young phenom who was rumored to have interest from super-clubs Chelsea and Arsenal. And that’s just the forwards!

In midfield, Nigel Reo-Coker is an absolute beast in the center of the pitch, and it was always a curiosity that he saw time at right back last season. Russell Teibert can provide some fantastic service from out wide, and Gershon Koffie and Matt Watson are both serviceable, at the very least. The defense in 2014 should get a pretty huge boost from captain Jay DeMerit’s return to health – that is, if he can maintain it for a full season. But there are no glaring holes on the backline, as Johnny Leveron and Jordan Harvey both enjoyed quiet breakout seasons last year. There is the slight oddity of Vancouver only having one goalkeeper on the roster as of this writing. I’m sure a second will be added after training camp, but David Ousted had a couple of wobbly moments last season and a trustworthy backup is likely high on the shopping list for Vancouver.

Overall, Vancouver's a tough team to figure. Last year they probably should've been better than their record indicated, but is first-time head coach Carl Robinson the right man to help them reach their potential? And as other teams around them got better this offseason, the 'Caps mostly stood around and watched people flee Vancouver. Steven Beitashour seems like he should be an adequate replacement at left back, but by watching guys like Jun-Marques Davidson, Daigo Kobayashi and Camilo walk, Vancouver guaranteed that they’ll be giving a lot of minutes to unproven and inconsistent young players like Gershon Koffie and Darren Mattocks. 

Again, this roster has the talent to stay in the fight for a playoff berth, but a lot rides on some of that talent finally stepping up and performing this season. In the brutal Western Conference, they’ll need a number of performers to make that leap if they hope to return to the postseason in 2014.

Crowdsourcing Results 

7th place in Western Conference; 89 of 404 voters ranked Vancouver 7th in the West (21.9%), and 307 felt that the Whitecaps would miss the playoffs (76.0%).