This article is part of our Daily Fantasy Soccer Cheat Sheet series.
EXPECTED CORNER/SET PIECE TAKERS
Montreal Impact: Marco Donadel
New York Red Bulls: Sacha Kljestan
Los Angeles Galaxy: Landon Donovan, Giovani Dos Santos, Steven Gerrard
Colorado Rapids: Shkelzen Gashi
Toronto FC: Sebastian Giovinco
New York City FC: Andrea Pirlo
Seattle Sounders: Nicolas Lodeiro
FC Dallas: Mauro Rosales, Kellyn Acosta
Clint Irwin, TOR at NYC: If I'm constructing a tournament lineup, I'm looking to the four road keepers who will be facing plenty of shots as the home sides try to erase their series deficits. While Evan Bush may see the most shots, they'll be dangerous ones coming from the high-powered Red Bulls attack. That leaves Brian Rowe, Irwin and Stefan Frei. FC Dallas need to make up a three-goal deficit but have a questionable attack since Mauro Diaz went down for the season. They could pepper Frei, or flounder. Rowe is in a closer series, but against an attack that I still haven't quite been able to trust all season. Colorado should be formidable, but they tend to create quality chances rather than a quantity of them. That leaves Irwin, on a tiny Yankee Stadium field, against human soccer ball turret David Villa. NYC FC are down two goals, an amount that they can come back from but only if they balance looking to score early and often with defending Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore effectively. Irwin's chances feel like just the right balance in save potential, a safe floor and potential bonuses for a win and clean sheet. Frei is cheaper, but I feel more comfortable paying $700 more on DraftKings for a keeper in a match whose pulse I can read a little easier.
Luis Robles, NYRB v. MTL: If your focus is in cash games, and you don't feel comfortable with the variance of road keepers facing plenty of shots, then Robles is your man. Montreal project to play a similar style that they did at home, sit back and absorb the Red Bulls' relentless pressure and then hit on the counter. They've done it well throughout 2016, and they could scrape together an away goal here once more, but I'm still all-in on the unforgiving system and talent of the Red Bulls. This match should end fairly one-sided, particularly if Montreal's elderly midfield begins to feel the effects of a busy Fall. Robles should earn a handful of saves and come away with a victory, and a clean sheet would simply be icing on the cake.
Ronald Matarrita, NYC v. TOR: Matarrita has come a long way since we were touting the rookie early in the season as a great fantasy value. He's now the costliest defender in DraftKings MLS contests! City must overcome a two-goal deficit, and if Toronto grab a road goal, New York will need to score at least four goals in this match to have a chance at moving on. That suggests a very plausible scenario where Matarrita, one of the most exciting and talented attacking fullbacks in recent MLS history, will be unleashed upfield. He's shown well in limited minutes on the attacking wing, and manager Patrick Viera has no qualms about letting him decide when to get upfield. No defender has the upside that Matarrita does Sunday, which keeps his hefty price fairly palatable.
Maynor Figueroa, FCD v. SEA: It didn't take a fantasy expert to come up with this pick. FC Dallas need a minimum of three goals if they want to move onto the next round. They will push their fullbacks up every single chance they get. Figueroa made a case this season for best left back in the league and has increasingly become involved in the FC Dallas attack. He's comfortable taking long-range shots, and even grabbed a highlight reel goal from long range in CONCACAF Champions League action earlier this year. It's not easy to find this much potential under $4,000 these days, but thankfully the FC Dallas fullbacks haven't needed to join the attack much during their dominant season and it has kept their prices down. Now they must push forward, and that makes for a great fantasy opportunity for us.
Mark Bloom, TFC at NYC: Even centerbacks are expensive these days! Dart throws hoping for a set-piece goal from the likes of Aurelien Collin, Axel Sjoberg and Walker Zimmerman will still cost you $3,800 - $4,400. However, when constructing lineups, we still may need to find a truly cheap defender to squeeze in a final top-notch attacking piece. Enter Bloom. With Steve Beitashour ailing, Bloom is the odds-on favorite to start as a wingback in Toronto's likely 5-3-2 formation. Since the formation switch, they've used these wingbacks to help apply plenty of pressure, and despite a two-goal aggregate lead, I can see them being active on the flank offensively. Bloom is capable, though not overwhelming in any way, so I'd only suggest using him if you need the savings to use in the more important attacking positions. He should earn at least a handful of points while the rest of your lineup does the heavy lifting.
Sacha Kljestan, NYR v. MTL: Your elite midfield pick likely comes down to Kljestan or Shkelzen Gashi. Nicolas Lodeiro enters the conversation for the bold who envision FC Dallas overextending themselves and becoming vulnerable in the back. Otherwise, Ignacio Piatti and Giovani dos Santos project to play defensive matches as their teams try to hold onto one-goal leads. Kljestan remains my favorite play. Despite three matches without a goal, Kljestan has still reached double-digit points in each. He and Bradley Wright-Phillips both were nominated as an MVP finalist last week, snubbing Giovinco, but still showing just how outstanding the pair have been this season. In a do-or-die match, I'm not going to bet against them. Meanwhile, Gashi has the boring and ineffective Kevin Doyle to partner with and must deal with a Bruce Arena managed Galaxy side that will surely focus on shutting him down and taking their chances with Doyle and the rest of the Rapids.
Jermaine Jones, COL v. LAG: With the Rapids' season on the line, Jones projects to finally return to the starting lineup. The wrecking ball of a no. 10 revolutionized the Rapids' attack earlier in the year and could be just the spark that they need. Jones earns points in nearly every way imaginable, and is constantly involved in the run of play. For $4,700 it's unlikely you'll get any semblance of set-piece duties, or even regular crosses, but Jones still brings a fairly safe floor and a ceiling that is quite high for a player that is regarded more for his defensive capabilities than his attacking talents. He's simply the type of player that gets things done in big moments, as witnessed on the international stage, and if anyone can will the Rapids to victory it's Jones. Rapids exposure via Jones is also a reason I'm extra comfortable taking Kljestan over Gashi. Since Jones will be highly owned, consider the similarly styled Marco Donadel for $400 more.
Mauro Rosales, FCD v. SEA: In a three-goal hole, Dallas are almost forced to insert the creative playmaker Rosales. He's the only player they have who can approximate the distribution and cleverness that Mauro Diaz brought to the side, and he will likely be relied upon to create chances for Maxi Urruti, Michael Barrios and Tesho Akindele. That's a very attacking front four that could find some success against what has been a formidable Sounders defense lately. For just $4,400, you'll likely get all of the set-piece duties and perhaps more in a match that could be Rosales' last feature performance in a good Major League Soccer career.
David Villa, NYC v. TOR: Although I'm extremely reluctant to fade Giovinco in favor of Villa this weekend, I think this might be an opportunity to catch lightning in a bottle. Villa is completely capable of putting this match on his shoulders, and he should have Frank Lampard to draw just a bit of attention from defenders. At the least, I think it's safe to expect a half dozen shots as they try to drag themselves back into the series. Both Giovinco and Villa have immensely high floors for forwards, but if we're looking for pure goal-scoring upside, I think the needle points towards Villa on this rare occasion.
Michael Barrios, FCD v. SEA: With Rosales drifting all around the attacking third, often vacating his inside role to explore the wide areas, Barrios should have plenty of opportunity to drive inside and get into dangerous positions. He's the FC Dallas player most capable of capitalizing on Seattle's defensive deficiencies, with speed to burn some less-mobile center-backs. While he's shown an ability to score in bunches, he also is a relatively safe play, rarely getting just a point or two. A cheap pair of Rosales, Barrios, Tesho or Urruti will let us fit one or possibly two more big attacking players, and also provide exposure to the team that needs to push the envelope the most. FC Dallas may have the smallest chances to advance, but it's a certainty that manager Oscar Pareja will have them believing that they can still make this a competitive series.
Mike Grella, NYR v. MTL: I have no reservations about going back to the well with Grella. While he's a good bet to be substituted out in the second half, he's also a highly effective attacking player who does not get the defensive attention of a BWP or Kljestan. In recent versions of this article, we've described Grella's attacking prowess, the Red Bulls high-pressure system and the benefits of grabbing cheap exposure to one of the best teams in the league. However, now I'll add another reason to consider Grella: his string of two disappointing performances could very well make him severely under-owned. With players like Emmanuel Boateng, Matteo Mancosu, Alan Gordon and Nelson Valdez all performing well of late, I imagine eyes will be pointed towards mid-tier options other than Grella. He's a great tournament play for the second forward spot, as I think the Red Bulls definitively put their stamp on the match.