The New York Red Bulls and the Vancouver Whitecaps are the only two Major League Soccer teams with two games this week. They'll play each other, at Red Bull Arena, on Wednesday. Then the Red Bulls will play at Cincinnati on Saturday, while the Whitecaps will host Dallas.
The Red Bulls have the much better schedule for the week. They're at home on Wednesday, and then face an expansion side that just gave up five goals to Orlando this past weekend. Not only do the Whitecaps have to make a very long trip to the East Coast, but then they'll face a Dallas team that just held LAFC -- the league's best squad -- to a 1-1 draw.
Here's the problem with the Red Bulls, though -- the heavy risk of rotation. Earlier this month, when the Red Bulls also had a double matchweek, manager Chris Armas made 10 changes to his starting lineup in the second game, with only defender Amro Tarek starting twice.
In other words, don't get too excited about the Red Bulls this week. The only player I'm planning to select is Daniel Royer at Tier 2 midfielder. Royer picked up his fourth assist in the Red Bulls' 1-0 win over defending champs Atlanta United on Sunday, and also has two goals so far this season.
Ironically, I'm planning to pick two Vancouver players, despite their tougher schedule. In-Beom Hwang only has one goal so far, but he's averaging 43.3 passes completed per game, so he has a pretty high floor. More importantly, he's the only double matchweek player available at Tier 3 midfielder.
At Tier 1 defender, the Red Bulls' Tim Parker got a red card against Atlanta, meaning he'll be suspended on Wednesday. That leaves you with two options from the Whitecaps, Ali Adnan and Doneil Henry. Adnan picked up his second assist in a 1-1 draw at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, and Henry suffered a hamstring injury in that game, so you're left with an easy choice.
A cut above
As mentioned above, LAFC were held to a 1-1 draw at Dallas on Sunday, but it was yet another good game for Carlos Vela. He scored his 14th goal of the season and now has five more than any other player in the league. Not only that, but Vela also took seven shots in that game. He's up to 79 shots on the season, 29 more than any other player -- that's absurd!
Vela's fantasy score could have even been much higher as he had a penalty kick saved in the first half. LAFC are the biggest favorites in the league this week, at home against Montreal. Vela will be my Tier 1 forward and captain.
At Tier 1 midfielder, it's hard to look past Nani, who just scored his sixth and seventh goals in Orlando's 5-1 victory over Cincinnati. All seven goals have come in Nani's past six games -- a stretch in which he's failed to score only once. Orlando are also favored this week, at home against the LA Galaxy, a side which has lost four games in a row while conceding nine goals in those four defeats.
At Tier 2 forward, I'm going with Nemanja Nikolic, who only has five goals so far this season. However, he is third in the league in xG (expected goals) at 8.82, behind only Vela (11.71) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (10.34). Chicago also is at home this week, hosting New York City FC.
Shea Salinas, San Jose (Tier 2 defender): Salinas continues to be deployed as an attacking midfielder, rather than as a defender, and picked up his second assist in the Earthquakes' 4-1 win over Chicago on Saturday. Salinas took three shots in that game and had four chances created. Plus, he's already scored four goals this season. San Jose play at Toronto this week, but Toronto is winless in its last four games.
Tyler Miller, LAFC (Goalkeeper): Miller has six clean sheets (one behind league leader Bill Hamid) and has conceded only nine goals in 14 games. Hamid has conceded 13 goals in the same amount of games. LAFC's opponents this week, Montreal, have only scored 15 goals in 14 games.