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Fantasy MLS: Surprising starts for Minnesota, Atlanta

Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire

Two weeks into the Major League Soccer season, only three teams have picked up the maximum of six points, and they all reside in the Western Conference.

Two of them, LAFC and the Seattle Sounders, were expected to be contenders this season. The third? Not so much.

But Minnesota United have also won both of their first two games, following their 3-0 victory at San Jose on Saturday. And Darwin Quintero continued his excellent start, scoring his second goal, and picking up his third assist.

Both of Quintero's goals have come via the penalty spot. But he's also taken three shots in each game. It's been good enough to make him the MLS fantasy points leader through the first two weeks of the season.

The points leader for this round was Carlos Vela, who had a goal and two assists in LAFC's 4-1 win over Portland on Sunday. Vela didn't have a goal or an assist in LAFC's opener, but took five shots in that game, and took six more on Sunday.

These two both finished in the top 10 in points last season, in their first year in the league, so their success is no big surprise. Quintero and Vela should be two of the top Tier 1 forward options all season long -- especially because they're not just goal-scorers. Quintero already has eight chances created, and Vela has five.

Speaking of Tier 1 forwards, Josef Martinez scored his first goal of the season on Sunday. But it was Atlanta United's only goal in a disappointing 1-1 draw against expansion side FC Cincinnati. The result wasn't a fluke, either. Atlanta did have 66.2 percent possession, and outshot Cincinnati 10-4, but in terms of expected goals it finished 0.79-0.80. The draw was a fair result.

This was the defending champions' home opener, by the way, and they've now picked up just one point from their first two games.

Martinez did take four of Atlanta's 10 shots, but only scored one goal, and has taken just six shots in the first two weeks of the season. And he's not as creative a player as Quintero and Vela, with no assists and only one chance created thus far. Martinez smashed the MLS goal-scoring record last season, and led the league in fantasy points as well. But he's probably not the best option at Tier 1 forward right now, given his team's early form under new coach Frank de Boer.

The only player with a brace this weekend was Gyasi Zardes, who scored both of Columbus' goals in their 2-0 victory at New England on Saturday. This was no big surprise, either, given that Zardes scored 20 goals last season, placing him tied for third in the league. He's one of the better options at Tier 2 forward, for sure.

However, it's worth noting that Zardes scored those two goals despite only taking three shots in the game. And he took just one shot in the Crew's opener, a 1-1 draw against the New York Red Bulls. Zardes, like Martinez, is a more goal-dependent player -- despite those 20 goals last year, he only finished 26th overall in fantasy points. Zardes didn't have a single assist in 3,248 minutes, and has no assists and just one chance created so far this season.

And finally, speaking of braces, the only two players to score twice on the opening weekend were Michael Bradley and Jordan Morris. Bradley and his Toronto FC teammates were off this week (as were the Red Bulls), so he didn't have the chance to add to his tally (and probably wouldn't have anyway - read more here).

As for Morris, he scored his two goals on only two shots last week, and didn't take a single shot in Seattle's 2-0 win over Colorado on Saturday, despite playing 85 minutes. I picked Morris at Tier 2 forward this week, but warned you that there could be some ups and downs after he missed the entire 2018 season due to injury. So, 29.3 points last week and 4.5 points this week? Yep, I think that qualifies as an "up and down."