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MLS Fantasy: Philadelphia Union rundown

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Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The MLS season is about a week away, but MLS Fantasy has been up and running for a while now. We're gonna tell you which Union players you need to have on your team, and which you should avoid at all costs.

Goalkeepers

Rais M'Bolhi ($5.5) - In fantasy terms, M'Bolhi was below average in his four games with the Union last year, but it'd be unfair to base expectations on such a small sample size. This year, he'll be playing behind a steady back four, unlike the constantly changing unit of the 2014 season. Having had months to get to know his teammates, M'Bolhi will shine as he breaks out in 2015.

Andre Blake ($5.0) - M'Bolhi is the clear starter in goal, and Blake is not expected to challenge him. When he returns from his knee injury, he'll likely be sent to Harrisburg to get playing time.

John McCarthy ($4.5) - The newcomer will get a few league starts for the Union when both of his colleagues are away on international duty. He could be a good play during those weeks, but his potential is very limited.

Defenders

Sheanon Williams ($7.5) - Williams will chip in with a few goals and assists this year, but his production does not match his price. He won't get you offensive bonus points, and at averages of 5.2 for both CBI/90 (Clearances, Blocks, and Interceptions) and recoveries/90, his defensive bonus point production will be inconsistent. There are better players at this price level.

Steven Vitoria ($7.5) - As we've seen in preseason, Vitoria is a very big, very physical player. He'll certainly guarantee at least one defensive bonus point per match, and could grab two or three on good weeks. Given his height--6'5--he'll be the main target on corners and long free kicks. There are a number of newcomer center backs at this price, (Zubar, Mendoza, R. Rodriguez, D. Rodriguez, Perquis, Ciman) so there are plenty of options. Some of these guys will be steals at this price, and Vitoria is a prime candidate to be one of them.

Ray Gaddis ($7.0) -Despite registering the most minutes among field players in 2014, Gaddis only managed a mediocre 108 points. Sheanon Williams finished at 104 points despite playing nearly 1000 minutes fewer. Gaddis's service isn't great, and it certainly doesn't help that he's a right-footed player lining up on the left side. Full backs usually aren't good plays unless their crosses are being sent into the back of the net, meaning that your $7.0 will be better spent elsewhere.

Ethan White ($6.5) - White is one of a few starting center backs coming in at $6.5 or less (Pogatetz, Zimmerman, Burling). Unlike those three guys, White is not much of a contributor as far as defensive bonus points go, averaging just 8 CBI/90 and 6 recoveries/90. Perhaps those numbers rise as a result of experience and a fairly safe starting spot, but even if they don't, White is a solid add at this price.

Fabinho ($6.5) - Shockingly, Fabinho's defensive numbers are better than those of both Gaddis and Williams. He can also cross a ball pretty well. He'll jump into the line-up if either of the two full backs go down, and he'd be a solid pick up if that were the case.

Austin Berry ($6.0) - Godspeed, Austin.

Richie Marquez ($5.0) - Curtin is a big fan of Marquez, who is one of three actual center backs on the team's roster. If either of the starters goes down, or he manages to seize White's spot, pick him up immediately. He'll be a CBI monster at a very affordable price.

Midfielders

Sebastien Le Toux ($9.0) - After a productive 2014, Le Toux is the most expensive player on the Union. As long as he is on the field he will be taking penalties, and as long as he will be taking penalties he will be making penalties. He'll get a handful of goals, and with the addition of Fernando Aristeguieta, he'll get more than a handful of assists, too. His bonus point production is nothing to write home about though. I doubt he'll top his 154-point 2014 season, so I'd look to spend my 9.0 on someone else.

Cristian Maidana ($8.5) - I could not be any higher on Maidana heading into this season. His crosses/90 and key passes/90 are very good, and his assist tally (11) is quite impressive. Take into account that he only played 1880 minutes last season, and that he'll be standing over free kicks and corners in 2015, and--wait! Finish this article before you add him to your team!

Maurice Edu ($8.0) - Though it looks like Mo will be the starting defensive midfielder on opening day, (whenever that may be) his fantasy prospects would look better at center back. He's not going to rack up goals or assists, and his defensive bonus points would get a nice bump if he were to move back. Still, don't put him on your team, as there are more attack-minded midfielders in this price range that will likely outscore Edu.

Vincent Nogueira ($8.0) - Hopefully Nogueira's brain will continue to function when he enters the attacking third this year, as he finished 2014 with two goals and three assists. It's totally in the realm of possibility that those numbers double, but his recoveries and CBI are still lacking. Though he's the Union's best player, it doesn't really translate to fantasy, as there are more than a dozen players I'd pick over Nogueira at this price.

Fred ($6.0) - Grandpa doesn't have a place on your team.

Brian Carroll ($6.0) - No.

Danny Cruz ($6.0) - Could see some time at winger if Le Toux or Wenger go down, but isn't worth having on your team until then.

Michael Lahoud ($6.0) - There's a possibility that Edu partners with Vitoria, which would mean that Lahoud would take his place in the midfield. Even if that were the case, I still wouldn't pick him up.

Leo Fernandes ($6.0) - Currently on loan with New York's best run soccer team.

Zach Pfeffer ($5.5) - Curtin raised some eyebrows when he said that Pfeffer is challenging Maidana for the starting attacking midfielder spot. He isn't, but Pfeffer could be used to spell Maidana, Wenger, and Le Toux. If one of the three goes down with an injury, keep your eye on the Union homegrown player.

Jimmy McLaughlin ($5.0) - The above applies to McLaughlin as well.

Forwards

Fernando Aristeguieta ($7.5) - The Union's new Venezuelan center forward could be the best bargain in the league. Not only does he have a nose for goal, but it looks like he's willing and adept at dropping back to play in some of his teammates. The only other $7.5 strikers that could warrant a spot on your team over Aristeguieta are Kennedy Igboannike, Bryan Rochez, and...

Andrew Wenger ($7.5) - Wenger will obliterate any right back in this league, and Jim Curtin knows it. He's tall and fast, but he's most notably as strong as an ox. The Union will look for Wenger to hold up play and perform some combo plays with Maidana and Aristeguieta, but he'll also look to get into the box on crosses and through balls, and take on defenders one-on-one. If he can continue to develop on the wing, you should give him a look.

CJ Sapong ($7.0) -Sapong could play in a role similar to Wenger's, fill in for Aristeguieta if need be, or partner with the Venezuelan in two-striker formations. No matter how he gets onto the field, the only way he'll really contribute is with goals, so I'd advise you pass on Sapong.

Conor Casey ($7.0) - Casey will score ten goals a season until his knees just disintegrate, so screw it, pick him up.

Antoine Hoppenot ($6.0) - He won't see substantial playing time this year, and he won't do anything with it if he does.

Dzenan Catic ($4.5) - A very intriguing choice, especially considering that he's one of the seven cheapest strikers in the game. If the Union do go to a two-striker formation, he could earn a spot over Sapong. If you're looking for a cheap striker to fill out your squad, here's your guy.

Don't forget to join the Brotherly Game's fantasy league! The registration code is 356-1349