Or... how to throw darts while slightly drunk.
So this year I'm playing MLS Fantasy Soccer for the first time. I'm playing it like I pretty much play every game, which is to say I'm just diving in and figuring it out as I go. It's likely not to result in winning my league this year, but I do hope it will help me learn about the players a little more and decide who to watch more closely.
I'm playing through the official MLS fantasy tool on their web site, and I'm in a league with a bunch of other Orlando City fans. After week one I'm not at the bottom of the table where I usually wind up in such competitions, but I am sitting 27th out of 42, so I'm definitely in the lower half of the bracket and need to consistently score more points to keep out of the relegation zone! Oh wait--there is no relegation in MLS... yet. OK at least I don't have to worry about that.
Well of course when I started building my squad I tried to put all Orlando City players on it, but in addition to working with a fantasy salary cap, the rules are set so you can only have a maximum of four players from any one MLS roster on your team. Phooey. I'm fairly new to following club-level soccer and I've really only known the names of the guys that were playing for Orlando City over the last few years in addition to some of the folks that play for the USMNT and the USWNT. So aside from the guys in purple and those few Team USA names, there's not a lot I knew about most of the MLS rosters going into the first game of the season.
After realizing that going after all high-value names would leave me quite a few spots short on my roster, I tried a different approach. I put my favorite Orlando City players on first, and then filled in the roster with low-value random players from around the league. That left me way under the fantasy salary cap, so I then went back and picked a few names I'd heard or read about during pre-season.
Those who have followed the sport a long time or who have played fantasy soccer in the past will know exactly what happened. I had some guys on my team who didn't play at all during the first weekend, so they gave me zero points, while a few of my top guys had decent games and helped me earn 50 points. That was a bit below the average of 54 points for all players and less than half of the 116 maximum scored by one player.
Unfortunately, I also apparently put a guy on my squad who is out with an injury for a few weeks (Diego Valeri), so I missed getting any points with him. Like I said, I generally tend to dive in head first with these sorts of things and then figure out what I'm doing as the season goes along.
After the first week, I realized that the MLS is a bit like the NFL in that some teams have bye weeks throughout the season, and that necessitated making some lineup changes to account for players on my roster whose teams are not in action for week two. I also learned that unlike in fantasy football, you have a limit on the number of players you can swap out from your roster entirely, so this week I had to spend a slot getting Valeri off the team and bringing on someone new. Since I learned a bit about him last Sunday watching the game in person, I decided to put Mix Diskerud on the team in Diego's place. Likewise, I threw some guys on the bench that didn't play at all last week and subbed in some players who did see action. Hopefully, this will at least get points for me from more of my players.
For what it's worth, here's how my lineup looks for Week 2. I'm sure whoever I draw in my head-to-head match will salivate when they see who I'm throwing out there, but hopefully I'll dial it in as the season goes on and build up a better squad.
- GK - Chris Seitz (Sporting KC)
- Defenders - Brek Shea (Orlando City), Jeff Larentowicz (Vancouver), Greg Cochrane (Vancouver), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting KC)
- Midfielders - Kaka (captain) (Orlando City), Kevin Molino (Orlando City), Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake), Memo Rodriguez (Houston), Mix Diskerud (NYCFC)
- Forward - Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy)
This should prove interesting at the very least. I'm sure as the season goes on I'll get lots of helpful advice on how to build a better roster, and if not--hopefully I'll figure it out on my own.