This article is part of our The Armband series.
Last week's double didn't go nearly as expected. San Jose flopped in its second game, losing 3-1 at home against D.C. United, while Vancouver ended up being the better team to back even with the trip to Dallas. It would've been easier to captain David Villa (my No. 2 choice) above everyone else, but I outsmarted myself. Magnus Eriksson had two of his worst fantasy outings of the season and then Miguel Almiron and Ignacio Piatti did little in their two home matches. Overall, it was a weird week that saw Atlanta give up three goals at home and Zlatan Ibrahimovic get sent off in Montreal, yet the Galaxy still left with three points.
Week 13 will be better because we don't have to deal with mediocre teams having two matches. There are a few squads that stand out above the rest, with New York (v. PHI), Kansas City (v. CLB) and LA FC (v. DC) all in great situations. The team I'm backing heavily will undoubtedly be the Red Bulls, who have won their last four games, including three on the road. The Union may have won their last two, but I don't trust them on the road where they have three points from five matches. There are two players who stand above the rest for the armband are Kaku and Bradley Wright-Phillips. Kaku has two goals and seven assists in his last four matches, while Wright-Phillips has made the score sheet in every start this season and already has eight goals and five assists despite not starting a few of the early matches. It'll be hard to pick between the two, but I'd go with Kaku only because he's around the ball more. Michael Murillo and Aaron Long are in line for clean sheets, but I'm not giving them the armband over the attacking players.
For SKC, I'm not completely sold on Johnny Russell or Daniel Salloi because the Crew have been the best defensive team on the road this season, allowing only two goals (and three scored) in six matches. I'm much more comfortable with Graham Zusi, as Sporting may have the best shot for a clean sheet. The problem for Zusi is that his upside is around 10 or 11 fantasy points unless he makes the score sheet and gets a clean sheet.
Zusi is a differential play, but Carlos Vela will be holding the armband for plenty of fantasy bosses even though D.C. United turned competent in the win at San Jose last weekend. I'm still not convinced and this is as good of spot as any for LA FC to score three goals at home, something they haven't done yet. Vela managed his team's only goal last week from his only shot and remains a top fantasy play even if the upside hasn't been there of late, failing to surpass 10 points in seven of his last eight matches. I'm willing to bet that he'll hit the 10-point mark, at a minimum, against D.C.
There are three matches Friday, so if you want Sebastian Giovinco in the squad, get him in before Toronto host Dallas. Giovinco should be refreshed after his suspension and is always a threat to make the score sheet, having done so in his last five starts. Toronto aren't playing well, but Dallas have allowed eight goals in their last four matches. I'd throw Victor Vazquez in the mix, but I'm not willing to do that given his back issues and the team's overall form.
Houston hosts NYC FC is an intriguing match only because both teams love goals, scoring and allowing them. For the Dynamo, there have been at least three goals in each of their last six matches, with that total hitting five in half of them. Alberth Elis is still the one who stands out even though he hasn't topped eight fantasy points in six of his last seven. On the road, I'm more inclined to roll with the Villa train and Maximiliano Moralez, who found his form last week. NYC's numbers aren't as good on the road, but due to Houston's inept defense, I'd be willing to gamble on Villa and I can't remember the last time gambling on him ended poorly.
The Galaxy are in a great spot at home against the Earthquakes, which makes Ola Kamara an interesting differential after scoring in each of the last four matches. The upside isn't there as a goal-dependent fantasy player, but if he gets a hat-trick that doesn't matter much.
It's a stretch to consider anyone else for captain even with decent matchups. Seattle (v. RSL) has scored only seven goals this season, while I'm not falling into a Vancouver (v. NE) trap even though Kei Kamara and Felipe Martins had a solid two-match week. With Dom Dwyer hurt, I'm passing on Orlando (v. Chicago), and if you really like Ignacio Piatti at Minnesota, go ahead and back him.