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MLS Fantasy: Taking Red Bulls on the Road

Just sayin'.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

This week is a DGW for four teams: Los Angeles, Real Salt Lake, New York Red Bulls, and Philadelphia Union. My advice from last week still stands: RBNY and RSL are your best bets. I'm even stronger in that with Union playing so poorly without Nogueira and the Galaxy having issues with injuries to Gerrard and Dos Santos (although Bruce has said both are available).

I had some questions on twitter why I'm recommending Red Bulls. After all, they're playing two matches on the road, followed by another "road" match in Yankee Stadium. Even the best of teams struggle on the road, and the Red Bulls will have a long flight out to the heights of Salt Lake to compound things. So why am I bullish on the Red Bulls (I should delete my account for that joke, shouldn't I?)

Well it's that the teams RB are playing are three of the worst defenses in MLS by expected goals.

1. RSL 26.51
2. OC 26.07
3. Van 25.43
4. NYC 22.76
5. NER 21.96
6. Por 20.42
7. FCD 20.22
8. Colu 20.01

Even if you prefer Goals scored instead of expected goals, RB's opponents look pretty weak

1. NYC 31
2. Van 27
Por 27
4. NER 26
5. FCD 24
6. RSL 23
OC 23
8. Hou 22
9. Colu 21

That's quite a stretch of bad defenses RB plays. And after this stretch for the Red Bulls? Portland, who makes an appearance near the top of both lists.

No other team with a DGW in 15 plays two of these defenses. Philly plays one (home at Vancouver) but that was more appealing before the loss of Nogueira and Sapong's ankle issue. RSL goes to Dallas to play the other one.

In the end, Red Bulls play 4 of the worst defenses in their next 4 games and don't have a bye in 18. Yes, being on the road for 2/3 of them will hurt their tally, but you have to have them on your fantasy squad. And oh by the way here's the expected goals numbers for:

  1. NYC: 24.18
  2. Por: 23.48
  3. NYR: 22.94
So that's the 3rd best offense playing 4 of the worst defenses. Sounds like a good idea to me.

[RB also play a USOC match before the NYCFC match midweek. I expect them to use a heavily rotated squad in that match, which is a polite way of saying they'll put out a laughable lineup like NYCFC did against the Cosmos to rest up for the Hudson River Derby, with fantasy stars BWP and Sacha likely on the bench.]