LAFC continue to look like the best team in Major League Soccer, by some distance. They won 3-0 at Columbus last weekend, and now have eight victories and three draws from their first 12 games, outscoring their opponents 29-8 in the process.
Columbus manager Caleb Porter called LAFC "the Man City of MLS" -- high praise indeed, comparing them to the now back-to-back Premier League champions. And the early-season numbers back that up -- this could be the best team in league history.
LAFC are one of nine MLS teams that will play twice this week. Both games are against Dallas -- one home, one away -- who are off to a decent start, currently fifth in the Western Conference. But you should still be targeting LAFC players for your fantasy lineup, and one player in particular.
Carlos Vela scored his 12th goal of the season against Columbus, giving him three more than any other player in the league. Vela's also tied for the league lead in assists, with five. Plus he's the league leader in shots (64), and second behind only Portland's Diego Valeri in chances created (38). Vela will be my Tier 1 forward and captain.
And there are three LAFC options at Tier 2 midfielder. Lee Nguyen has only made five appearances so far this season, and hasn't started a game since March 10, so you can cross him off the list. Mark-Anthony Kaye also scored a goal against Columbus, his third of the season. Eduard Atuesta only has one goal, but he's leading the league in passes completed, averaging 75.2 per game.
Either Kaye or Atuesta is a good choice. I'm leaning toward Atuesta, who has the higher floor, plus he's started every game so far.
Atlanta United have two road games this week, against Vancouver and the New York Red Bulls. But they've won four straight, and five of their past six, climbing to fifth place in the Eastern Conference (and third in terms of points per game).
Pity Martinez finally scored his first MLS goal in Atlanta's 1-0 win over Orlando on Sunday, a sweet finish from just inside the 18-yard box. He also nearly scored the week before, when his free kick against Toronto hit the post.
Martinez only took five shots in his first three MLS starts, but he's taken 12 shots in his past three starts. It looks like the former River Plate star is getting acclimated to his new surroundings, and he'll be my Tier 2 forward.
Speaking of free kicks, Alejandro Pozuelo scored one in Toronto's 2-1 loss at Philadelphia on Saturday -- his fifth goal of the season, in only eight appearances. Pozeulo is also tied for the league lead in assists. And Jozy Altidore returned from injury in that game against Philly, which boosts Pozuelo's chances of more assists in the near future.
Pozeulo will be my Tier 1 midfielder, with Toronto hosting D.C. and then playing at Real Salt Lake, a team that has conceded 20 goals in 11 games.
Tomas Martinez, Houston (Tier 3 midfielder): The Dynamo are the only team with two home games this week, against Portland and D.C. Martinez has started all nine of their games so far, and has two goals and an assist. Nick DeLeon, one of the other two double matchweek options, didn't start last weekend for Toronto. And Carlos Gruezo didn't play at all for Dallas.
Reto Ziegler, Dallas (Tier 1 defender): It doesn't matter that Dallas are up against LAFC twice this week. Ziegler is on penalties for them, which gives him the biggest goal-scoring upside of any player in this tier. Plus Ziegler has a solid floor, thanks to being seventh in the league in passes completed, averaging 61.9 per game.
Justin Morrow, Toronto (Tier 2 defender): He's the best of the three double matchweek options in this tier, with two assists already this season. Morrow has finished with at least 9.2 fantasy points in his past five starts, and with no fewer than 6.8 points in every start this season.
Tyler Miller, LAFC (Goalkeeper): Miller is coming off back-to-back clean sheets against Columbus and Chicago. He has five of them on the season, one off the league lead. And in six of his seven other games, he only conceded one goal. Dallas have only scored 16 goals in 11 games, and they're third-to-last in the league in xG (expected goals) at 14.08. I think Miller can shut them out twice.