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MLS play resumed with a full slate of matches this past weekend after a three-week hiatus due to international matches and U.S. Open Cup contests. As a special bonus, whoever runs the MLS Fantasy game has decided to grant three Free Transfers for this week, allowing Fantasy GM’s everywhere to shuffle their squads as the season nears the half-way point.

The additional Free Transfers present a great opportunity to make significant changes to your squad, without incurring the four-point penalty that exists most weeks when completing more than one Transfer. (Note: all transfers must be made by Wednesday at 8:45pm EST.) In order to take full advantage of this opportunity, it will be important to examine both the short and medium-term prospects of several players, and their clubs.

First and foremost, you have to make sure that you select players whose teams will be playing as much as possible over the summer months. Due to the unbalanced schedule, some clubs will play twice as often as others over the next ten weeks.

Here’s a look at the busiest teams over the next ten rounds:
Montreal Impact (11 games), Toronto FC (11), Houston Dynamo (10), Sporting Kansas City (10), LA Galaxy (10)

Of these teams, several players stick out as excellent options for your fantasy team. Add these guys, and you can keep them in your lineup for the foreseeable future.

Brad Davis – Midfielder, Houston Dynamo ($9.6M)

In classic MLS fashion, the Dynamo were on the road for the first two months of the season as they waited for the grand opening of BBVA Compass Stadium. Now that it is open, the club has a full slate of games at home, and do not have a bye week for the rest of the season. In addition to the loaded schedule, the Dynamo are back to leaning on Davis, the league-leader in assists in 2011, who has finally completed a full recovery from the quadriceps injury he suffered in the playoffs last season. Davis may not score as much as several other elite midfielders, but his consistency will provide your team with solid output every week.

Felipe – Midfielder, Montreal Impact ($7.2M)

The Impact have been a pleasant surprise this season, and Felipe should get a lot of credit, as he has been one of the expansion team’s main attacking catalysts. The Brazilian playmaker took some time to get acquainted to the league, but has found excellent form in the last five weeks. Despite the relatively small sample size, his quality has been apparent, as he’s played a major role in Montreal’s attack in recent weeks, including scoring the first-ever MLS goal at Stade Saputo. Add him now before his price goes through the roof as more people discover him.


Milos Kocic – Goalkeeper, Toronto FC ($5.0M)

It may be a risk to add anyone whose fantasy value is tied to Toronto FC’s defensive ability, but Kocic has been surprisingly adequate in fantasy terms despite his team’s struggles. His points-per-game (4.3) is in the ballpark of many starting goalkeepers, and better than more expensive options like Sean Johnson and Donovan Ricketts. With the dismissal of Aron Winter, and his team’s busy stretch of upcoming games, he is a decent option as an inexpensive goalkeeper.

 



On the other side of the coin, several teams will be inactive in the coming weeks, and their players should be avoided.

Below is a list of those teams, and a few notable players that will be negatively affected by the inactivity:
D.C. United (5 games), Chivas USA (6), Columbus Crew (7)

Dwayne De Rosario – Midfielder, D.C. United ($11.2M)

More MLS scheduling madness means that United has already played 16 games, five more than TFC, for example. To make up for this inequality, D.C. will play just five times between now and August 4th, when they will resume a normal game-per-week schedule. When August comes around, DeRo will be among a number of D.C. players to add to your team, but it would be a waste of a roster spot (and a
good chunk of your salary budget) to keep him around until then. Cash out now, and come back when United returns to a normal schedule.

Andy Gruenebaum – Goalkeeper, Columbus Crew ($5.1M)

A one-time “Bargain-Watch” special, Gruenebaum is currently the highest point-earner among goalkeepers in MLS. The career backup got his opportunity when Crew starter Will Hesmer went down with a hip injury, and he has performed admirably since. Columbus has defied its critics once again by posting a respectable record to start the season, but Gruenebaum is not good enough to justify a roster spot when he’ll only be playing four games in the next seven rounds. Replace him with a starter on a busy team, and re-evaluate at the end of the Crew’s stretch of inactivity (July 21).



Bargain Watch

Austin Berry – Defender, Chicago Fire ($4.7M)

The rookie defender went unnoticed as he stayed on the sidelines for the first six weeks of the season, but he has made a loud impression since. Berry scored in his professional debut, and then earned a spot in Chicago’s starting XI in the following weeks. The 23-year-old has formed a solid defensive pairing with German veteran Arne Friedrich, and even scored his second goal of the season several weeks ago. Although the Fire are off this week, his price is still low enough to justify his addition to your back-line.