We've got six midweek games in Major League Soccer this week -- four on Wednesday, two on Thursday -- meaning 12 teams will play twice in Matchweek 19.
Of those 12 teams, three have two home games: Atlanta, Toronto and Cincinnati. And my Tier 1 forward, Tier 2 forward and Tier 1 midfielder will all come from these teams.
Atlanta are winless in their past three games, but they've scored five goals in those three games -- the problem is, they've conceded 10. But this week they will host Houston, who are 1-7-0 on the road, and D.C., who have won only once in their past nine games.
Josef Martinez scored his 13th goal of the season -- tying him with Zlatan Ibrahimovic for second in the league -- in Atlanta's 2-1 loss at Seattle on Sunday. And he's now scored at least one goal in five straight games (eight goals in total). Martinez will be my Tier 1 forward, and my captain as well.
It's still fair to say that teammate Pity Martinez hasn't lived up to the hype in his first season with Atlanta -- two goals, four assists in 19 appearances thus far. But he's trending in the right direction. Martinez has a goal or an assist in five of his past six games, and in the other game he was sacrificed after 18 minutes due to a teammate's red card. He'll be my Tier 2 forward.
Toronto picked up a much-needed 2-0 win at Montreal on Saturday, and Alejandro Pozuelo scored his eighth goal of the season. He also has five assists, and is tied for third in the league in chances created with 61, despite only making 17 appearances so far.
With Jozy Altidore back from international duty, Pozuelo is even likelier to pick up assists going forward. And Toronto will also host Houston this week, in addition to the New York Red Bulls. Pozuelo will be my Tier 1 midfielder.
Thanks, but no thanks
Daniel Royer came through for me big-time this past weekend, when he scored both of the Red Bulls' goals in their 2-1 victory over NYCFC. However, I won't be sticking with him as my Tier 2 midfielder this week.
Royer's brace was a little fortunate -- he only took two shots in the game, and one of them was a penalty kick. More importantly, the Red Bulls are one of three teams with two road games this week (along with D.C. and Houston).
New England have a much better schedule. In fact, they will face the last-place teams in both the Eastern and Western Conferences this week -- hosting Vancouver on Wednesday, before traveling to Cincinnati on the weekend.
The Revolution are a much improved team under new coach Bruce Arena -- unbeaten in their past eight games, with four wins and four draws. Carles Gil scored his fifth goal of the season in their 2-2 draw with D.C. on Friday, and he also had at least one assist in three of the previous four games. What's more, Gil has 58 chances created, which places him fifth in the league, just three behind Pozuelo and Carlos Vela. He'll be my Tier 2 midfielder this week.
At Tier 3 midfielder, Sebastian Blanco is a pretty easy choice if he starts at home against Orlando on Thursday -- just make sure he's in the lineup (or check my Twitter feed), because Portland has been rotating a lot of late. But I'm confident manager Gio Savarese will send out a full-strength lineup for their rivalry match in Seattle on Sunday.
Blanco didn't score in Portland's 2-2 draw with Colorado this past Saturday, but he had a team-high four chances created. He has three goals and six assists in 16 appearances this season, and had a goal or an assist in four of the previous five games.
Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Atlanta (Tier 1 defender): He's seventh in the league in passes completed with 1,050, averaging 55.3 per game, and Atlanta have two home games this week. Plus his fantasy points average would be higher if not for the red card he picked up against Chicago earlier this month.
Francisco Calvo, Chicago (Tier 2 defender): The Fire will also play twice this week, and their first game is at home against Columbus, who have just one win in their past 15 games (including 13 defeats). Calvo had a team-high 53 passes completed against Cincinnati last week, and he also provides some goal threat -- he has three goals already this season, and is averaging nearly 1.5 shots per game.
Matt Turner, New England (Goalkeeper): Turner conceded five goals in his first start of the season on May 8, but that was the last game of Brad Friedel's tenure as manager. Since then, New England have conceded more than one goal only once in eight games. And their opponents this week, Vancouver and Cincinnati, have scored 22 and 20 goals this season, respectively -- only Columbus have scored fewer (17).