This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.
Wednesday features a four-game slate that should prove to be very eventful, as the matches are all quite evenly matched. Atlanta's attack provides the most attractive options of all eight teams as they travel to the nation's capital to take on a struggling D.C. United. Minnesota United hosts the Portland Timbers in the next match, which could be a very even game, with goals likely to come on both sides, and then the Colorado Rapids host the Los Angeles Galaxy in a battle of futility. In the nightcap, both the Seattle Sounders and Orlando City travel from the east coast to the northwest to square off at CenturyLink Field. Although it is a four-game slate, there are not many sure locks in the player pool. There are few goalkeepers and defenders that fantasy managers can rely on, so it may be best to pick the best five attackers you can fit and go from there. There is no reliable way to depend primarily on home players in this slate, so there should be plenty of road warriors in your roster. Good luck.
7:30 p.m. EDT
It's hard to say it, but D.C. has scored just one goal in its last seven MLS matches. United is in a heap of trouble, and it doesn't appear that it will get better any time soon. The attack has been stale for years now, and head coach Ben Olsen continues to field poor players who are not up to par with the growing league. Whether it is Olsen who is to blame, or the front office, something needs to change. The quicker an overhaul can take place the better, for it is very hard to find any one outside of Bill Hamid, Steve Birnbaum and Luciano Acosta who are worth any value. Although D.C. United somehow managed to win 3-1 against Atlanta earlier in the year, the contrast in the excitement of these two sides is apparent.
Atlanta is coming off a great win over the Crew, who outplayed them for much of the match yet they managed to take the three points anyway. Josef Martinez scored as a substitute in that one, and he looks ready to start Wednesday after playing a half an hour in Saturday's match. He played 90 minutes last midweek against the Charleston Battery, and scored in that one too, so he seems to have maintained the fine form he had before his injury. Atlanta is, undoubtedly, one of the best expansion teams in MLS history and it is hard to find a weakness in their starting XI. They are a very exciting team to watch, and with Martinez likely returning to the lineup, it is only going to get better.
Josef Martinez, ATL v. DC ($8,100): Martinez should return to the starting XI on Wednesday, which does not bode well for the D.C. United defense. The Venezuelan has seven goals in six MLS games in his first year with Atlanta, and though he missed over a month due to injury, he is back and has scored two goals in two games since returning.
Miguel Almiron, ATL v. DC ($8,800): Almiron is one of the finest young talents in the league, and the return of Martinez should only help increase his production, as opposing defenses cannot focus as much attention on him.
Yamil Asad, ATL v. DC ($7,100): Asad is right there alongside Almiron for one of the top prospects in the league, and he probably hasn't received enough recognition for his incredible play this year. He has eight assists already, and with the return of Martinez, he has yet another player to finish his brilliant deliveries.
Hector Villalba ($7,200) should move back to the right wing with the return of Martinez, and he has a goal and assist in his four games playing with Martinez in the lineup. However, the shuffle will move Julian Gressel ($5,500) back to the defensive midfield position that he manned for the first nine games of the year.
Minnesota is having a much tougher expansion year than Atlanta, as there is not much foreign influence and they are finding it difficult to rely on MLS and USL talent. There are a couple of pieces to build around in Christian Ramirez, Kevin Molino and Abu Danladi, but outside of them they do not have much to value. MUFC is at the start of a long building process that Atlanta seemingly skipped right over to become a real contender this year. The acquisition of Sam Cronin and Marc Burch, who will miss game with injury, helped out somewhat, but the squad needs a massive overhaul and it seems as if Minnesota is simply just trying to get by. Hosting the Timbers will not help, as Caleb Porter's side pressures opponents for all 90 minutes.
Timbers starting center-back Liam Ridgewell missed their last game after suffering a quad injury on June 10 against FC Dallas. Ridgewell is a huge part of the defense, as shown in the 2-1 loss to the struggling Rapids, and the team cannot afford to cope without him for much longer. Portland will use two make-shift center-backs Wednesday in Lawrence Olum and Roy Miller, who have regularly played as a center midfielder and left-back, respectively. The Timbers are well-equipped to engage in a shootout with Minnesota, a team that has given up 34 goals in 16 games this year, but the defense should manage to hold up against a limited Loons attack that has a clear lack of quality.
Cristian Ramirez, MIN v. POR (7,300): With Ridgewell, Ramirez should have an easier task against the Olum-Miller partnership, who gave up two goals to a woeful Rapids attack last Saturday. Ramirez is always hungry for a goal, and he is never happy until he gets one; that is the type of striker you want on your fantasy team.
Diego Valeri, POR at MIN ($9,300): Valeri should enjoy a leisurely day at the office against a very poor Minnesota side. Although Valeri prefers the confines of Providence Park, the Timbers will aggressively pursue all three points. He is no longer on corners and free kicks, but he is always looking to take a crack at goal or set a player up in a scoring position. If Portland win this game, Valeri will simply need to play as he has all year long.
Fanendo Adi ($8,300) bagged a brace two weeks ago, but that was at home, where he thrives. Kevin Molino ($7,400) is a dangerous attacking player, but his price it too high to warrant a high level of interest. Sebastian Blanco ($6,800) is one of the more interesting plays on the slate, as he is coming off of a breakout game against Colorado. Minnesota is weaker on the defensive end than Colorado, and it is short and fast players like Blanco who have given the Loons fits all season long.
The Rapids are in a very similar predicament as D.C. United. Colorado had a tremendous season last year, but it has not carried into 2017. The attack is very stagnant, and there is a clear lack of ideas going forward. The problem is there is not much else head coach Pablo Mastroeni can try, for most of the players on the roster have been there for a long time. The Rapids have not bolstered the squad with any quality acquisitions since Shkelzen Gashi's arrival last year, and there must be something done in the summer transfer window or the Rapids will be near the basement all season. For what it's worth, the Rapids have scored six of their 14 goals in the last four games.
The Galaxy are surviving off scraps at the moment. Saturday's lineup featured just four regular starters against the Dynamo, and somehow the Galaxy managed to earn a draw at home after conceding the lead due to two mistakes by goalkeeper Clement Diop. All the talk in Los Angeles this week surrounds the goalkeeper debacle for the Galaxy, and not enough is being said about the competency of backup goalkeeper Jon Kempin. He may be inexperienced with only seven starts in his MLS career, but he looked great in the Galaxy's scoreless draw against D.C. United, and in his start last Wednesday in the U.S. Open Cup. Kempin should get the start in net for the Galaxy on Wednesday, and it would prove to be an upgrade until the return of Brian Rowe or a signing in the summer transfer window. The Galaxy should feature a lot of youth in Wednesday's match due to the spark that three young substitutes caused late in Saturday's game. Ariel Lassiter, Bradford Jamieson IV and Jose Villareal all subbed on in the second half and the attack looked the most dynamic it had all game. Head coach Curt Onalfo surely saw the difference made by these players, and he could put his faith in them to get a result against a struggling Rapids side to extend LA's eight-game unbeaten run.
Roman Alessandrini, LA at ORL ($10,900): Word is out that Alessandrini skipped practice Monday due to a sore hamstring that he is nursing. Those closest to the Galaxy say that they are sure he will be ready for Wednesday, but even if so, the question is, will it affect his play? The Frenchman is a true workhorse, and after playing in every game this season, he doesn't seem to be the type to take a day off. There's not much else to say about this guy other than that he is a world-class player in his prime who is dominating the league.
It is unclear whether Shkelzen Gashi ($7,600) will start or if he'll even make the bench. Kevin Doyle ($5,500) has a goal and an assist in his last two games. Emmanuel Boateng ($5,400) scored his first goal since Week 3 on Saturday, and the attack will depend on him to provide more end-product during a very trying period for the Galaxy roster. Mohammed Saeid ($4,900) takes the corners for Colorado, and his place on the right side of the midfield allows him to swing in more crosses in the run of play.
Seattle almost got something out of last week's match, but David Villa stole the show. The whole game was played in a heavy downfall, which Seattle should be somewhat acclimated for, but the Sounders' attack looked very poor once again. There suddenly seems to be no chemistry in the 2016 MLS Cup champions, and the peculiar thing is that there really haven't been many changes to the roster. Tyrone Mears left for Atlanta, and Brad Evans, the intended replacement at right-back, has been injured all year, which has left a major weakness on the right side. It's hard to find anything good to say about the Sounders at the moment, and all signs suggest that the offense is in need of an acquisition in the summer transfer window.
Orlando is coming off a thriller against the Impact, who love to get in those kind of games. The Lions showed great fight in their fortress to earn the draw, where they have only lost one game in 10, but it's back on the road for Orlando on Wednesday. It is a brutal hand that has been dealt to Orlando, flying from one corner of the country to the opposite to play its second game in four days. It is a tall task for head coach Jason Kreis and his men, but they are catching Seattle at the right time, as the Sounders had to fly from New York after their game Saturday to help neutralize the effects of traveling across the country. Orlando is sure to make some changes to the starting XI, so watch for the lineup before committing to any Lions.
Nicolas Lodeiro, SEA v. ORL ($10,000): The Uruguayan has had a very lackluster season after helping lead the Sounders to the 2016 MLS Cup. When he gets on the ball, there doesn't seem to be as much life in the Seattle attack as there was last year, and a lot of this is due to Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris' lack of chemistry. Head coach Brian Schmetzer does not want to play Morris and Dempsey up top together so they alternate, playing on the wing some of the game and striker for the rest. The Sounders need a fourth player to add to the attack, or else Lodeiro will just continue sending balls into the box with nobody putting them in the net. He may be at expensive, but he has a sure floor of 10+ fantasy points at home, and a goal or assist would help him exceed value.
Clint Dempsey, SEA v. ORL ($8,500): Deuce is probably still upset for U.S national team head coach Bruce Arena subbing him off before he reached the all-time leading goal scorer milestone, and he is a player who plays well when he's angry. To add more fuel to the fire, Deuce was sabotaged by the terrible playing conditions Saturday in New York, and he is chomping at the bit to get back home and score his first goal in over a month. It's a shame this game is the last one of the slate, so we will not be able to see where Dempsey starts on the field at kickoff.
There is not much to like from this game, but there could be a few hidden gems to help complete your squad. Kaka ($7,200) is too cheap on DraftKings, and with Cyle Larin out, the onus is on him to produce for the attack. However, he may not start Wednesday, as he is just coming back from injury, so it's best to fade him due to the game's late kickoff. Joevin Jones ($5,800) loves to get up the left side and into the Seattle attack, and Wednesday should be a great opportunity to do so. The Seattle attack is often lacking in creativity throughout a given match, so the Sounders rely on Jones' runs up the left side to help to add another element. Giles Barnes ($5,100) got the start in the absence of Cyle Larin on Saturday, and he very well could find himself at center forward again. Will Johnson ($4,200) takes corner kicks and some set pieces, and at such a cheap price he could hit value, even on the road, and without his target Cyle Larin.
Keepers of the Day
Alec Kann, ATL at DC ($4,700): This seems to be a slate for a cheap goalkeeper. As stated above, D.C. United has scored only one goal in its last seven MLS games, so perhaps this poor run of form continues and Kann gets above 10 points for the win and clean sheet. It is always risky to pick a keeper on the road, but D.C. is really, really bad.
Jon Kempin, LA at COL ($4,300): Hopefully head coach Curt Onalfo starts Kempin over Diop after last game's pair of howlers. Kempin is sturdy in net, and for what it's worth, he made six saves and earned the clean sheet in his only MLS start this year, which was against D.C. United. Colorado is not much better than D.C. offensively, which could easily allow Kempin to rack up saves from long range shots and potentially earn a clean sheet as well.
Sometimes you have to throw darts at defenders in order to fit all the attackers you want. Here are some options to consider: Chris Korb ($3,500), Jerome Thiesson ($4,000), Marlon Hairston ($3,900), Mike da Fonte ($3,200), Ashley Cole ($3,200), Nathan Smith ($3,100), O'Neil Fisher ($4,000), Rafael Ramos ($4,000).