Fantasy MLS: Doubling up in Kansas City

Forward Johnny Russell is just one member of Sporting Kansas City you should be looking to in fantasy MLS this week. Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

There are five midweek games in Major League Soccer in Matchweek 23, so 10 teams will play twice. That's where you should start when building your fantasy lineup. In particular, four teams will play two home games this week: Minnesota, Real Salt Lake, the LA Galaxy and Portland.

I'm turning to the Galaxy for my Tier 1 forward and captain. Zlatan Ibrahimovic did not score in their 2-1 loss to D.C. on Sunday, but he did set a new MLS record for shots in a single match, with 14! That's nuts. Ibrahimovic is third in the league with 16 goals on the season, and the two players ahead of him -- Carlos Vela (23) and Josef Martinez (20) -- only play once this week. I like my captain's chances of getting goals at home against Dallas and/or Seattle.

At Tier 1 midfielder, I'm also picking a player with two home games, Portland's Diego Valeri. He also did not score in Portland's 3-1 victory over Vancouver on Saturday, but he had an assist, took seven shots and created six chances. Valeri has six goals and seven assists on the season, and has 86 chances created. That's 11 more than any other player in the league. Plus, he's on penalties for Portland. Valeri could have a very big week at Providence Park against Chicago and Atlanta.

A Sporting double

I don't love the double-game options at Tier 2 forward, but Johnny Russell did score his eighth goal of the season in Sporting Kansas City's 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake on Saturday. It was his first goal since a hat trick against Seattle back on May 26, but he's only made four starts since then. Russell has been limited to just 15 starts on the season (1,370 minutes), but he's averaging 0.53 goals-per-90 minutes, which is pretty good. If Russell starts at Orlando on Wednesday, he'll be in my lineup. Kansas City's second game this week is at home against San Jose.

I don't love the options at Tier 2 midfielder, either. Still, I'm going with Russell's teammate, Ilie Sanchez. He's started 21 games this season, and has two goals and four assists. More importantly, he's 14th in the league in passes completed, averaging 51.9 per game. That's a nice-looking floor, especially in a two-game week.

Other picks

  • Sebastian Blanco, Portland (Tier 3 midfielder): Blanco had a goal and an assist in Portland's win over Vancouver last week, plus six shots and four chances created. He's now up to four goals and nine assists on the season and ranks ninth in the league in shots (69). He's also tied for ninth with 59 chances created.

  • Reto Ziegler, Dallas (Tier 1 defender): I don't mind that both of Dallas' games are away this week, at the Galaxy and at Montreal. They're coming off a 5-3 win over Minnesota, where Ziegler had a team-high 68 passes completed. He's ninth in the league in that category on the season, averaging 55.3 per game. Plus, as far as we can tell, he remains on penalties for Dallas.

  • Ike Opara, Minnesota (Tier 2 defender): Opara did not play in that loss at Dallas on Saturday. Manager Adrian Heath heavily rotated his team after their midweek victory over Portland in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. If Opara is back in the starting XI on Wednesday, he'll be in my lineup as well. He's already got three goals and an assist this season, and is fourth in the league in clearances (111). Plus, Minnesota have two home games this week against teams that are currently out of the playoffs -- Colorado and Orlando.

  • Vito Mannone, Minnesota (Goalkeeper): I had to talk myself into this one, because Mannone just conceded five goals to Dallas, as mentioned above. However, not only did Opara not play in that game, but both fullbacks were rotated, and regular central midfielders Osvaldo Alonso and Jan Gregus were absent, too. Of the four goalkeepers with two home games this week, Mannone has the easiest fixtures. He's third in the league in saves with 83, and also third in clean sheets with eight -- including a clean sheet in each of his previous three home games. There wasn't a single clean sheet in MLS in Matchweek 22, but I think Mannone can post at least one this week, if not two. His upside is too big to ignore.