Here in the USA, the summer time Major League Soccer schedule is on hiatus to accommodate the World Cup competition in Brazil. Likewise, for fantasy league competition, wherein I rank somewhere within the first quintile among 30,000 players or so.
While waiting for regular domestic league competition to resume, I’ve decided to dive into the FIFA World Cup Fantasy Challenge sponsored by McDonald’s. I assume players from all over the globe participate in this competition so my ranking above the half million mark doesn’t seem too bad. Problem is, the imaginary salary cap at the start of the group stage seems so inflated as to make it impossible to load your roster up with too many big name players. Of course, this encouraged me to avoid Spanish national team players, and so since they’ve been eliminated, I’m good to go there (various game prizes are offered, including jerseys, a car, etc.).
Many MLS players perform for their national teams in the World Cup, such as Clint Dempsey and Kyle Beckerman of USMNT and Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar. So this sort of name recognition can make or break futbol fantasy success for someone who loves the sport but didn’t grow up in an historically “soccer” intensive nation. A particular problem occurred when trying to construct my backline. After packing my team with high profile forwards and midfielders, I realized the talent pool of available defenders consisted predominantly of names I’d never heard of. I moved a couple Brazilian backliners to the bench who yielded zero points because they didn’t even play! So then I switched to an offensive 3-4-3 formation to minimize my defensive deficiencies and to take advantage of the offensive capabilities of Messi (my Argentine captain) and Dempsey.
Nice work Clint and USMNT on a fast start to the tournament (not to mention soldiering on after a nasty kick in the face)! Keep up the good work Sunday v Portugal!
But my virtual “Man of the Match” for today goes to the young defender on the Greek national team. His team down a man due to a red card (yellow double booking), Konstantinos Manolas kept his end of a 0-0 draw v Japan alive with his energetic defense, including some key blocks and clearings in front of his goalkeeper. As they say in this country, “defense wins championships”, but Manolas’s side has yet to score a goal in the tournament. They still can advance with a victory over Ivory Coast, bringing on the elimination round and another opportunity to restock the roster.
Maybe I don’t win a car but I can still have fun playing and clinging to hopes for a prize of some soccer merchandise. Or at least a coupon for a McGyro?