This article is part of our DraftKings Fantasy Soccer series.MATCHES (EDT)
Sunday, Nov. 27, 4:00 p.m (EST): Seattle Sounders at Colorado Rapids
Wednesday, Nov. 30, 7:00 p.m: Montreal Impact at Toronto FC
Heading into the second leg of the MLS Conference Finals, the lower seeds (and now away teams) both have a one-goal lead in the aggregate score. Importantly, both Toronto FC and Colorado Rapids secured a valuable away goal. For most intents and purposes, that makes both of these series a coin flip. Toronto and Colorado will push the attack while Seattle and Montreal will hope to cling to the slight edge they earned at their home stadiums.
Zac MacMath, COL v. SEA ($4,800): The only goalkeeper I can't condone selecting in this round is Evan Bush traveling to Toronto, but otherwise you have three appealing choices. I'm particularly drawn towards the match in Colorado, where I think either side could earn a clean sheet with the right breaks, and between Stefan Frei and MacMath, I prefer the Rapids' keeper. MacMath looked the stronger of the two in the first leg, though he allowed the most preventable goal of the three that were scored. He's far safer, with Colorado likely to lay siege on Seattle's defense to make up the one-goal deficit, and as a result may not have the ceiling of Seattle's keeper. Frei, while $900 cheaper on DraftKings, showed some nerves in the back that I am reluctant to trust, and Clint Irwin is more expensive with a lower floor than MacMath. By process of elimination, I see MacMath as the best blend of safety and upside.
Justin Morrow, TOR v. MTL ($5,900): The price is steep, but Morrow should be the most attacking fullback of the slate, at least until Toronto FC pull even on aggregate. Morrow has been a revelation in TFC's late season switch to the 3-5-2, and while the Reds will want to ensure they don't get fleeced on the counterattack like they did in the first leg, I expect him to continue pressing forward. Joevin Jones is the other top-end defensive option, but on the road at altitude and defending a one-goal lead, I don't expect him to be nearly as aggressive as he was in the first leg.
Ambroise Oyongo, MTL at TOR ($4,900): It's typically not useful for me to recommend two of the highest-priced defenders. That's not how we construct lineups. It's often poor salary cap management to spend up at both defender spots, at least in MLS contests. However, this two-game slate may be an opportune time to roll out two top-tier defenders. I'm confident that Montreal will need to chase this game at some point, after they fail to defend their precarious lead. That means Oyongo, a goalscorer last match, should have plenty of opportunity in the attack. Like Morrow, he fills the stat sheet in multiple ways, but Oyongo brings the higher ceiling given his speed and attacking skill.
Eriq Zavaleta, TOR v. MTL ($3,700): There's a good chance that this is the absolute lowest price point for a starting defender on the slate, and if you're paying down in defense, Zavaleta is a good bet for a handful of safe points. He's not a goal-scoring threat like some other centerbacks, but most of those are playing each other, and thus will have significant competition for any aerial challenges. Zavaleta has proven quite adept at snuffing out opponents' chances, earning a healthy number of tackles and interceptions in recent matches. With Toronto looking to shore up their defense, and considering reinserting Will Johnson into the midfield, their defensive outlook is even better. This gives Zavaleta a decent floor, but also some clean sheet potential. I strongly prefer him to Bobby Burling at the same price, if you are fishing for the cheapest possible defensive option.
Shkelzen Gashi, COL v. SEA ($8,900): It's a strange slate. The top-two priced midfield options are playing on the road and cost a whopping $2,700 and $1,100 more than the best home midfield option, Gashi. While fading both Nicolas Lodeiro and Ignacio Piatti is a risky proposition, I think it's one that could pay off greatly. Piatti was held without a single shot on goal in the first leg of his series. Lodeiro is the player that makes me more nervous, but it's difficult to dispute Colorado's form at home this year, and he is essentially carrying the entire Seattle attack at this point. If Colorado, who admittedly will miss Sam Cronin, focus on shutting Lodeiro down, they have little else to worry about outside of a hobbled Jordan Morris. This leaves Gashi, also carrying a knock, but gutting it out like a playoff hero. He was all over the field in Seattle, throwing 10 crosses into the box while also doing the dirty work defensively. His "dummy" on Kevin Doyle's goal was every bit as good as an actual assist. Gashi is the best home midfielder on the slate and comes at an appealing price that may let us use the top tier defenders mentioned above. The only reason to fade Gashi is if you are choosing your Rapids exposure via alternative players.
Jermaine Jones, COL v. SEA ($5,200): In terms of highest potential per dollar salary, Jones is the cream of the crop in this leg. He was influential in Seattle, yet still looks to be building his way back towards full effectiveness. If this is the match he regains top form, his $5,200 salary will be quite a bargain. It's no coincidence that Jones' best performances typically come in matches with the most at stake, and whether you're stacking him with Gashi or using him as an alternative, the Colorado midfielder is unlikely to let you down. Admittedly, there's also always the chance that Jones loses his cool if things aren't going his way and tags your team with a red card, but that risk is far smaller than the potential reward. Only Marco Donadel and Andreas Ivanschitz are viable alternatives in this price range, and neither have the advantage of home field or an attacking outlook from the get go.
Erik Friberg, SEA at COL ($4,200): Pickings are slim with budget midfielders, and Pablo Mastroeni has multiple options to replace the injured Sam Cronin, including Marlon Hairston and Dillon Powers ,who immediately would make attractive cheap options. Montreal's Patrice Bernier, fresh off a two-assist performance, also is a viable alternative. Friberg is an under-the-radar way to get Seattle exposure that I think needs highlighting. Trusted with being a third central midfielder in front of both Christian Roldan and Osvaldo Alonso last match, Friberg thrived in linking the base of the formation with Nic Lodeiro and Jordan Morris. He's far from a DraftKings star, but should Seattle need to fight for a goal in this match, Friberg would be a sneaky offensive selection. Most will be on Bernier given his two assists recently, but Friberg may have the better matchup for those looking for a tournament play.
Sebastian Giovinco, TOR v. MTL ($14,000): This doesn't need much explanation. Giovinco's "down" games are right around 20 points, and his outbursts can total more than some entire lineups reach in a poor week. While Jozy Altidore has scored in each of Toronto's four playoff games, and picked up three assists, he hasn't outperformed Giovinco in DraftKings points in any of those matches. It's possible to build a competitive lineup without Major League Soccer's version of Messi, but it's far from advisable.
Matteo Mancosu, MTL at TOR ($6,800): Mancosu has made Didier Drogba little more than an afterthought since taking over as the Montreal no. 9. He has combined with Ignacio Piatti and Dominic Oduro to form the deadliest counter attacking side that the league has seen in recent seasons. Among the trio, there is speed to burn, clinical finishing, and always a desire to strike the finishing blow at a moment's notice. Mancosu is at the intersection of it all, and gave Toronto's back line fits last week. While he's unlikely to see as many chances on the road, the goals could pour in if Toronto falls behind or gets desperate in the second half. Mancosu is a great tournament play in the second forward spot if you choose to go with lower price defenders, and I strongly prefer him to Dom Oduro at a $1,400 discount.
Kevin Doyle, COL v. SEA ($5,600): Tosaint Ricketts, a rumored starter, would be the optimal cheap forward option on this slate but I am doubting his starting chances. If that is the case, I'm turning to Doyle for a second forward. He has been operating as more of a no. 10 since the playoffs began and is far more suited to tucking in behind the speedy Dominique Badji than he was to leading the front line. Doyle has rarely impressed me, but he's a veteran international who can approximate the scoring output of a top midfielder if everything breaks right. Should you believe in Colorado mounting a comeback at home, look to stack him with a Colorado midfielder to maximize your lineup's potential. Badji is only $200 more with a lower floor and probably equal ceiling, but he could also make a good tournament differential.