This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.
After a bit of a lull in the MLS schedule due to international play, and a round of US Open Cup action, we're back with ten games on Saturday! The slate with the biggest prize pools only contains four, but the late contests deserve some action as well. Let's jump right in and break down the Eastern Conference exclusive kickoffs between 7 and 8 p.m. Eastern.
Two of the league's top possession teams will square off in hopes of breaking out of their individual slumps. Atlanta and Columbus have both shown a proclivity to score in bunches, but also concede in bunches this season, making this match a significant fantasy wildcard. Columbus were ousted from the US Open Cup midweek by USL side FC Cincinnati, while Atlanta defeated the Charleston Battery in a close match. Rotation could be a concern, notably Josef Martinez and Miguel Almiron for Atlanta, but fortunately we'll get to see lineups before making our choices.
F Ola Kamara ($6,800): Ola Kamara's lowest price in recent memory just so happens to come as he gets one of the better road matches of the season. Atlanta have been struggling defensively and may be missing several key players. Tata Martino may make some necessary adjustments against the Crew, like easing the high press just a bit to help shield the back line, but if he sticks to Atlanta's style of play, Kamara will surely see a handful of opportunities. United have been conceding opportunities nearly every possible way, and Ola's main strength is finding the right spots and making the right runs to open up a wide variety of chances. Despite playing on the road, that's a good combination.
M Kevin Kratz ($3,100): Working on the assumption that Miguel Almiron, who has played matches in three different countries over the past two weeks, will sit this one out after a full 90 minutes on Wednesday, I like Kevin Kratz to reprise his center attacking midfield role. After a pair of quality performances recently, Kratz is making his case for much more playing time. Four out of Columbus' five midfield starters played the entire match during their Wednesday, so they will be no better rested than Kratz. There's also a good chance the nearly minimum salary midfielder is on some set pieces. Given the value here, I won't mind if Almiron replaces him around the 60 minute mark.
Hector Villalba ($7,700) should have one more start up top before Josef Martinez is ready to return to a full complement of minutes, and I think he's a great forward option, too. Justin Meram ($7,500) could feast on Tyrone Mears or Mark Bloom at the right back spot, but given the Wednesday action, road match and hefty price, I'm not 100% sold. Federico Higuain ($7,300) is in a similar boat, but Bastian Schweinsteiger bossed the midfield against Atlanta last week, and Pipa is a similarly savvy veteran.
Chicago are on of two sides undefeated in their past six matches, and sit just one point out of the Supporters Shield lead, so a visit to New England really isn't that intimidating. The Revolution, however, are undefeated at home with five wins, two draws, and a plus thirteen goal differential. Bastian Schweinsteiger's relationship with turf fields is somewhat of a question mark as we head into the match in Foxboro, but I suspect the German won't let a little artificial green stuff keep him from leading his team. Defensive midfielder and designated player Xavier Kouassi remains out for the Revs, but Gershon Koffie has filled in admirably during his absence. Accounting for the turf and home form, I think New England will hang around with one of the league's best teams in the Fire.
F Nemanja Nikolic ($7,500): Last time these two sides met, Nikolic's brace began a huge run of goals from one of 2017's best MLS forwards. While New England played a good chunk of the match with just 10 men on that day, they still looked outclassed and the Revolution centerbacks may still not have answers for a great target forward like Nikolic. New England's best strategy would be to keep possession against this dangerous attack, but unfortunately they're one of the league's weaker teams at that, and it would also require them to outwit Dax McCarty and Schweini in the midfield. With 13 or more points in eight of his last ten matches, I'm perfectly comfortable gambling on the shooting boots of Nikolic on the road and on turf.
M Lee Nguyen ($7,700): I'm often keen to look to Diego Fagundez or Kelyn Rowe as cheaper New England exposure, but with their prices flying a little close to the sun for my liking, Nguyen may have to be this week's focus. He's been incredibly consistent this season, but only has looked dominant against poor teams, so buyer beware here. Nonetheless, New England have truly gathered a quality front four and Nguyen is best positioned to tie them all together and reap the fantasy rewards. Some people will see Nguyen as a top option this week, and while I'll pump the brakes on a claim that strong, he'll definitely make for some tough decision making when planting a flag in that price range.
We've said we were done with Chris Tierney ($5,100) plenty of times around these parts, but I actually kind of like the matchup this week. That said, Brandon Vincent ($4,400) is both a better value and far safer at the fullback position. All of the other starting forwards in this match look to be fair plays, but I'll also add that Matt Lampson ($4,100) is my favorite tournament play in net if you are ok fading New England players at home.
I'll just start with a bold prediction: Montreal will steal three points on the road against a reeling Orlando City group. After the Lions gutted out a 0-0 draw at home last week after going down two men, and dropping their US Open Cup match to Miami FC, they will now be without Cyle Larin who was in an unfortunate DUI situation just hours later. Orlando have had trouble scoring to begin with, especially lately, and now are without their definitive best player. Montreal on the other hand have only lost once in their past six road games and are a team on the rise since Blerim Dzemaili joined the team. They also have four extra days of rest which will help overcome some hot temperatures and an intimidating home crowd.
GK Evan Bush ($4,200): It's another road keeper, but I think Bush is an overwhelming cash game favorite this week. He'll certainly see some shots come his way, but Montreal have only allowed two goals in their past three games and Bush has been spectacular. I like the save potential, and I like the thoughts of Kaka being a step slow, Carlos Rivas firing shots into the stands, and Giles Barnes only being dangerous offensively in about 25% of the matches he plays.
M Ignacio Piatti ($8,500): Blerim Dzemaili is $500 cheaper, and far safer with nearly the same ceiling. However, I need to highlight Piatti so that he doesn't fly completely under the radar. The league's best winger is playing near the height of his powers right now and I would take him 1v1 against any defender in the league. That's a good thing, because Scott Sutter has some quality at Orlando's right back spot, but it won't be enough. Piatti's game is built for a swift counterattack on the road, or a constant onslaught of aggressive runs if Orlando cede control. If Matteo Mancosu is healthy enough to get the start, notch Piatti a tick higher in your rankings given the impressive chemistry the two have shown in the past.
Kaka ($8,200) and Carlos Rivas ($7,400) are nearly untouchable at their current prices and given the other options on the slate, but I would be willing to throw a Giles Barnes ($5,800) dart or two since he appears to be waking up on the right side of the bed lately. Daniel Lovitz ($3,600) is stepping into Ambroise Oyongo's valuable left back spot in Montreal after a season ending injury, and once comfortable, he'll have some good attacking moments.
As MLS regular season matches go, this is a David and Goliath affair. Toronto consistently put out some of the best performances in 2017 despite rarely fielding the same lineup thanks to injuries and international absences. United frequently look like one of the league's worst teams, sitting bottom of the Eastern Conference in goals scored and points. They have only five open play goals, the next lowest in the league is nine. They also have the worst passing accuracy. Spoiler alert: I'm not going to recommend anybody from DC United.
F Sebastian Giovinco ($12,000): If we can use Kevin Kratz, opting for $12,000 Giovinco is little problem. If not, the budget could get tight. With plenty of good attacking matchups this week, it's a true toss up for me whether Giovinco is simply a good idea this week, or a must play option, but often taking the safe road will pay off with Seba. We're far from the days where he was rattling off 30 or more points seemingly every week, especially with Victor Vazquez assuming many set piece duties, but Giovinco still stuffs the stat sheet in nearly every fashion and DC United likely won't have an answer.
M Victor Vazquez ($6,800): With names like Miguel Almiron, Romain Alessandrini, Nemanja Nikolic, and more, it's likely that Vazquez isn't leading the race for Newcomer of the Year. He should be. The MLS assist leader flawlessly ties together all of the pieces that make Toronto FC great: Giovinco, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Justin Morrow. His corner kicks are supremely accurate, his vision around the box evokes his La Masia pedigree, and it would be a mistake to think the finishing touch isn't there as well. While the fantasy numbers don't always follow, due to the nature of his role, I think Vazquez could be the the best value player on the entire slate.
Jozy Altidore ($8,500) remains in fine form and could be a good differential to Giovinco. Justin Morrow ($5,800) is the best defensive choice on the slate as well. If Kevin Kratz doesn't play for Atlanta, Marco Delgado ($3,000) becomes your minimum salary midfield play. If you must play somebody from DC, Lloyd Sam's price ($5,900) is quite reasonable and Steve Birnbaum ($3,300) can score from set pieces better than nearly every centerback in the league.