National Women's Soccer League

Fantasy Shots Strike Back: Week 5

Way back in my heyday of writing, I decided to take on the ridiculous task of making predictions for the Women’s Professional Soccer’s Fantasy League. At the time, I thought I was rather good at it. Indeed, up until the penultimate week, I steadily rose in the Fantasy standings, ending at #2. Unfortunately for me, I was unable to update my roster for the last week so it basically destroyed my standings, but we don’t talk about that. To be fair, I was also a correspondent for Bleacher Report covering the St. Louis Athletica and the Washington Freedom, so I had a pretty good inside look.

My whole point of all of that monologue is…Fantasy Shots is back with new teams, old teams, new faces, and the same amount of stress! Because I took this “job” as kind of a last-minute thing, I haven’t had time to come up with a name, so we’re sticking with the old one.

I also have the setback of having missed the first two weeks of the inaugural season of the National Women’s Soccer League, so my standing is incredibly low. I also am a bit out of date with my player knowledge, and so I hope, with time, I’ll be able to give better predictions.

So follow me, if you dare, into the realm of fantasy sports, where players are picked on merit, popularity, jersey number, clever Twitter handle, or cool name on the back of their jersey. It doesn’t matter; it doesn’t hold any sway over what happens in the playoffs. It doesn’t even matter when you blab about your team to your roommates. Chances are, they don’t care anyway.

I am far from a professional (do people get paid to do this?) but I do have a passion for soccer, and I will make every effort to watch as many NWSL games as I can, both live feed and (finances willing) in person. That being said, these picks are not necessarily who I myself will put on my roster. And because I change my mind a lot, that’s probably for the better for you!

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The Portland Thorns and FC Kansas City continue to show their pre-season strength, with Portland defeating the Washington Spirit 2-1 and the FCKC Blues shutting out Seattle Reign 1-0. Both teams won on the road, suggesting that their pre-season hype could very well be the real deal.

The Boston Breakers, a team that has survived from 2001-2003’s Women’s United Soccer Association and the follow-up league aforementioned, achieved the NWSL’s first rout, rolling over the Chicago Red Stars 4-1, thanks to the first-ever three-goal game by Sydney Leroux.

Top Four Point Leaders in each position for Week 4:

Goalkeepers: N. Barnhart (SBFC, 18 points), K. LeBlanc (POR, 13 points), A. Phillips (BOS, 7 points), M. Betos (SEA, 7 points)

Defenders: B. Sauerbrunn (FCKC, 10.5 points), L. Robinson (FCKC, 6.5 points), L. Sesselmann (FCKC, 6 points), K. Johnson/C. Goodson (SBFC, 3.5 points)

Midfielders: Z. Bywaters (CHI, 13.5 points), S. Schmidt (SBFC, 10.5 points), D. Matheson (WAS, 10.5 points), L. Chalupny (CHI, 7 points)

Forwards: S. Leroux (BOS, 35.5 points), R. Cuellar (FCKC, 18.5 points), A. Morgan (POR, 14.5 points), N. Washington (POR, 10.5 points)

FC Lake Placid: Week 4 Team (*denotes captain)

Formation: 4-4-2 (don’t you miss the days when we could choose our own formation?)

Points Earned: 70

Week 4 standing: 439

Overall Standing: 1119

Goalkeeper: Harris (WAS)

Defenders: B. Sauerbrunn (FCKC), M. Dougherty (POR), C. Goodson (SBFC), L. Robinson (FCKC)

Midfielders: H. O’Reilly (BOS), L. Chalupny (CHI), A. KERR (POR), S. Farrelly (FCKC)

Forwards: A. Morgan* (POR), R. Cuellar (FCKC)

WEEK 5 SCHEDULE

WSH vs BOS – Sat 7:00pm
SBFC vs SEA – Sat 7:00pm
WNY vs FCKC – Sat 7:35pm
CHI vs POR – Sun 6:00pm
SEA vs WSH – Thu 7:00pm
POR vs SBFC – Thu 10:30pm
*match times listed in EDT

Picks for Week 5 (*denotes captain/~denotes vice-captain/#denotes allotted player)

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: K. LeBlanc# (POR)

Portland has had a strong start to their inaugural season and play twice this week. Their first is against a struggling Chicago Red Stars side who just lost midfielder Shannon Boxx to a minor surgery. The second game is against a relatively strong Sky Blue team, but that game will be played on Portland’s home turf at JELD-WEN field, and if the attendance is anything like their opening (16,000+) Portland has the opportunity to stride away from the rest of the pack with two wins. LeBlanc has been solid in goal, and though she may not face many chances from Chicago, the Sky Blue FC attack includes Australian international, and former Washington Freedom star Lisa DeVanna, as well as forward/left-back Kelley O’Hara may easily keep LeBlanc on her toes. Some big potential saves to be had.

WATCH LIST: B. Cameron (SBFC), A. Harris# (WAS)

Filling in for injured Jill Loyden, Brittany Cameron has been pretty steady in goal for Sky Blue. Also with two games (v. Seattle and Portland), Cameron is a solid wager for a pick this week.

Harris’s Spirit faces a strong Boston side before traveling to Seattle. Both games could merit some action, but Harris struggled with a yellow card last week, and though it didn’t prevent her from having a solid game in goal against Portland, the card took Harris into the negatives for points.

Defenders: M. Dougherty (POR), N. Marshall (POR), C. Goodson (SBFC), B. Sauerbrunn# (FCKC)

Unfortunately, it’s much more difficult to get points from the defense in this version of women’s professional soccer fantasy. I’ve about given up on trying to predict who will be the points winners, as it is trending towards those whose teams get a clean sheet. Other than the CS, it’s extremely difficult to get more than 3 or 4 points for a defender.

That being said, Becky Sauerbrunn had a beautiful assist on Renae Cullar’s game-winner last week (that’s right…a central defender ran 80- yards with the ball to assist) and has been consistently steady in the back of FC Kansas City’s lineup, and consistently brings in points, thanks to FCKC’s shutouts.

Dougherty has been having some solid games, as had Marshall, both with Portland. As Portland should (if they continue to play as they are) get a clean sheet against Chicago, taking a wager on a Thorn may be a good idea. That being said, Chicago won’t go without a fight.

Goodson has had a few weeks of points for Sky Blue, though again, those totals have been small. But if you’re looking for a non-allocated player to fill your roster, she’d be the best option, since Sky Blue plays twice.

WATCH LIST: C. Foord (SBFC), C. Whitehill (BOS), A. Krieger# (WAS)

Foord has had some opportunities to score in the last couple of games, nailing the crossbar last night against Chicago. Whitehill has held Boston’s balkline fairly solidly and could be worth the gamble. Ali Krieger is an MVP on a bad day, but unfortunately, excellent defending doesn’t bring in any points unless it’s a clean sheet for the team.

Midfielders: L. Chalupny (CHI), S. Farrelly (FCKC), S. Schmidt#~ (SBFC), J. Fishlock (SEA)

The only solid choice I have here is Lori Chalupny. Known for being a consistent player anyway, Chalupny has steadily gathered points. She’s the league-leader in shots. She’s among the top five for shots-on-goal. A no-brainer in my mind.

Farrelly is a good choice despite FCKC playing only one game. She’s a dangerous enough player for that risk.

In the last couple of weeks, Sophie Schmidt has been becoming more and more of a threat, and two games with Sky Blue this week could mean big things for her.

Fishlock is the spirit of Seattle, but watch out for those yellow cards. She has three already this season, and if she’s not careful, she could earn a suspension from accumulation.

WATCH LIST: D. Matheson# (WAS), O’Reilly# (BOS), B. Edwards (POR)

Matheson and Schmidt are interchangeable here. Both have done their squads great credit, and both have two games this week. Look for Matheson to break out if Washington can hold off Boston and go after Seattle.

O’Reilly is always worth having on a roster if you can spare allocated players. A nose for the goal paired with an eye for assisting, she very well could have another multiple-goal game before long.

Forwards: A. Morgan*# (POR), L. DeVanna (SBFC)

A consistent point gainer to this point in the league, it’d be almost foolish to leave off Morgan from your lineup, as Portland faces a struggling Chicago team and then takes on inconsistent Sky Blue at home. With Sinclair behind her (or next to her) Morgan should get on the board at least once.

DeVanna hasn’t scored nearly as many goals as she “should” or is capable of. The Aussie is a force to be reckoned with, and her breakout game is coming. I can FEEL it. She’s definitely a gamble, but if she does finally open up, she has two games to gather points. She sits 5th in the league on both shots and shots-on-goal, so she should gain points anyway. She’s just gotta put one between the posts sometime.

WATCH LIST: C. Sinclair# (POR), A. Wambach# (WNY), S. Leroux# (BOS), R. Cuellar# (FCKC)

For Week 5, I’d say either Morgan or Christine Sinclair could go on your starting lineup, and either of them as captain. Sinclair has been named Player of the Month by the media, and her consistency is obvious.

Wambach and Leroux have one game apiece this week, but Wambach is a force to be reckoned with no matter how many games she plays, though she could face trouble from FCKC’s solid defense, lead by her USWNT teammate Sauerbrunn.

Leroux has consistently earned points through the weeks, and she’s the closest thing we’ve seen to “underrated” this year, thanks to the spotlight focused on Morgan and Wambach.

As for Cuellar, she has three goals in three games with FCKC, and doesn’t show any sign of slowing down…

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