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Fantasy MLS: Look to Pozuelo this week

Alejandro Pozuelo has one big factor working in his advantage as a Tier 1 midfielder. John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

There are only six Major League Soccer games this week -- one apiece on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, followed by three on Saturday. Then the league takes a short break, before returning with six more games on the weekend of Saturday, June 22 and Sunday, June 23.

Those 12 games will make up a single round in ESPN's MLS fantasy soccer format. But it's not a balanced schedule. Five teams won't play at all during this stretch (D.C., Atlanta, Orlando, New England and LAFC) and five teams will play twice (Toronto, Cincinnati, Dallas, Kansas City and Colorado).

You'll want to focus on those latter five teams when building your fantasy lineup. But my lineup won't be mined exclusively from those teams.

Let's start at Tier 1 forward, where you have only two double matchweek options: Colorado's Kei Kamara and Cincinnati's Fanendo Adi. Kamara is by far the better option, despite the fact he hasn't scored in his past four games. (Adi hasn't scored a goal yet this season.)

On the bright side, Kamara has still averaged over four shots per game during that span. He has already scored seven goals this season - only six players have scored more. And Kamara's xG (expected goals) total is 9.06, ranking him fourth in the league - behind only Carlos Vela (12.82), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (11.87) and Josef Martinez (9.53).

Colorado are still at the bottom of the Western Conference, but after going winless in their first 11 games, they've picked up three wins and a draw in their past four. I'm not going to captain Kamara, though, because of his relatively low floor. In this four-game span in which Kamara hasn't scored, he only finished in double figures in fantasy points once.

Instead, my captain will be my Tier 1 midfielder: Toronto's Alejandro Pozuelo. He has finished in double figures in five of his past seven games, despite only scoring one goal.

Pozuelo has cooled off a bit, but his overall numbers -- five goals and five assists in just 11 appearances -- are still outstanding. He averaged 2.7 shots per game during that seven-game span -- not bad at all -- and he's averaging 4.0 chances created per game on the season, which leads the league.

One more thing? Pozuelo is the only Tier 1 midfielder whose team will play twice. So he should definitely at least be in your lineup, if not be your captain.

Once is enough

One thing to be wary about this week is that many MLS players are being called up to their respective national teams to participate in the Gold Cup, Copa America, European competition, etc. So you're probably going to see some funky lineups, and some surprise omissions/inclusions.

I don't love any of the double matchweek options at Tier 2 forward, so I'm going with the hottest player in the league not named Carlos Vela -- Chris Wondolowski.

The 36-year-old former U.S. international hadn't started a game since March 30, but when he was re-inserted into San Jose's starting lineup on May 18, he proceeded to score four goals against Chicago, breaking the MLS career scoring record in the process. And Wondolowski didn't rest on his laurels, either. He scored two goals against Toronto, and then another one against D.C., in his next two games.

The Earthquakes have picked up four wins and three draws from their past eight games, and will host a Dallas team that had gone six straight without a win before beating Seattle 2-1 this past weekend (thanks to two own goals). Wondolowski will be in my lineup.

Double feature

Sporting Kansas City are off to a rough start this season. They've won just three of their first 14 games, and are third-to-last in the Western Conference. However, I'm planning to have both Ilie Sanchez and Felipe Gutierrez in my lineup this week.

Sanchez is one of only two double matchweek options at Tier 2 midfielder, along with teammate Kelyn Rowe, but Rowe is not a regular starter.

Sanchez is, and has been a solid fantasy performer this season. Despite having only one goal and three assists, Sanchez is averaging more than 10 points per game, and has finished in double figures in five straight. He's tied for 14th in the league in passes completed, averaging 54.4 per game, which gives him a rather high floor. And he's picked up an assist in two of his past three games.

Gutierrez is one of several double matchweek options at Tier 3 midfielder, but looks like the best of the bunch. He's already scored four goals this season, and is averaging over two shots per game. Gutierrez's passing numbers are solid -- 40.1 completed per game -- and he has handled two of Kansas City's four penalty kicks.

Other picks

  • Reto Ziegler, Dallas (Tier 1 defender): Speaking of penalty kicks, Ziegler has handled both of Dallas' so far this season, giving him a big upside. But he hasn't played the past two games. If Ziegler doesn't start on Saturday against San Jose, I'll switch to Colorado's Keegan Rosenberry, another double matchweek player who will still be available.

  • Shea Salinas, San Jose (Tier 2 defender): Matt Besler, the only double matchweek option in this tier, has been struggling with injuries of late. So I'm going with Salinas, who continues to be deployed in a more advanced role, and already has four goals and two assists in 12 appearances.

  • David Bingham, LA Galaxy (Goalkeeper): None of the five teams who will play twice are at home for both games, and none of them have inspiring defensive records, either. So I'm playing it safe and going with Bingham, up against a Cincinnati team that have scored only 12 goals this season, four fewer than any other team.