Everyone has been on edge waiting for the MLS Players' Union and the MLS brass to hash out a deal for Friday's opener between the LA Galaxy and Chicago Fire but now that's all taken care of.
I'm rolling with MLS' fantasy game for the preview since it went up about a day after I posted my OCSC fantasy preview and Yahoo's fantasy prices are a little wacky. Gustavo is worth $10.76M and he's not even on the team anymore, while Brek Shea only sets you back $3.17M. Yeah, okay Yahoo.
Three players to add to your fantasy teams this week:
Gyasi Zardes, F, LA Galaxy - I don't think I'm over-hyping the guy for his breakout USMNT performance last month. Zardes and Robbie Keane were arguably one of the best forward combos in Major League Soccer last season, combining for 35 goals and 16 assists. Someone's going to need to take over Landon Donovan's creative role -- at least until Steven Gerrard makes his MLS debut in July -- but that shouldn't prevent the Galaxy from scoring.
Zardes comes a bit cheaper than Keane ($9.5M compared to $11M) and Chicago allowed 51 goals last season -- and it's unknown how well the Fire's new-look defense will hold up against two of the league's better attacking players. Trust Zardes' speed and technical ability early this season.
Diego Fagundez, M, New England Revolution - Midfielders are the way to go if you want to win, and Fagundez could be the answer. At $7M, he is a bargain for an attack-oriented midfielder who scored 13 goals in 2013. Lee Nguyen might have stolen some of his goal-scoring opportunities last season, but things could change if teams start focusing on Nguyen. Fagundez turned 20 on Valentine's Day, so he obviously has plenty of time to grow and he's reportedly ready to roll after a strong stint with the Uruguayan U-20 team this winter.
Seattle allowed 50 goals last season, the most of all 10 playoff teams, so there's potential for goals. New England scored five against the Sounders in a shutout victory over the Supporters Shield winners last May, including two goals by Fagundez. I'd roll with him.
Steve Birnbaum, D, D.C. United - Birnbaum received his first USMNT call-up in January, alongside teammate Perry Kitchen, and Birnbaum might be one of the safest options at defense. D.C. United has one of the best goalkeepers in MLS, in reigning league Goalkeeper of the Year Bill Hamid, which gives an instant boost to anyone playing in front of him on defense. Birnbaum remains the cheaper of United's center back duo at $7M, and a rock solid defense player can mean the world to your team's fantasy hopes.
Also helping him out is the fact that D.C. plays Montreal Saturday and they were one of the worst scoring teams in 2014. Only two teams put up fewer goals and one of those teams doesn't exist anymore (R.I.P. Chivas USA). Montreal's all-time leading scorer, Marco Di Vaio, is gone and it doesn't look like there's a solid replacement for him, so this could be a low-scoring affair for French Canada's favorite MLS franchise. The Impact also played Tuesday in CONCACAF Champions League play, so fatigue could factor in for them.
If you really have to use an Orlando City player, because you know you have to...
Kaká, M - If you're playing fantasy soccer and reading this blog, you're already planning on using him. I'm here to re-enforce that decision. Kaká's preseason was as strong as you expect for a former World's Greatest. He was involved in nearly every attack, put up nice numbers (two goals, three assists) and he brought it to every game for Orlando City SC. Kaká takes corners, penalties and free kicks, so he's bound to be involved in almost every goal. You're spending $11M, which is the price for any premium player, meaning you're making him a centerpiece for your success by choosing him. But compared to the other expensive newcomers, he's the best bet. $11M for Giovinco? Nah.