MLS Fantasy 2014: Approach Landon Donovan With Caution

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There is now less than two weeks remaining until the 2014 MLS Season begins, and excitement amongst the league’s fans is at a fever pitch. Many of these fans are turning their excitement into profits on MLSsoccer.com, as the league is giving fans up to $10,000 by only forming 18 man rosters with a budget of $120 million and gaining more points than others around the U.S.

Forming fantasy soccer teams can certainly cause fans to feel a strain on their loyalties, as they at times have to cheer for one of their fantasy players who suits up for a rival, which is a bit contradictory. For those who are feeling a bit under the weather about that, I have taken to identifying players you should and shouldn’t pick. And one player that all fantasy participants should trend away from is Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder/forward Landon Donovan, as a number of different factors indicate that he will not live up to his hefty price tag of $11 million.

It is difficult to doubt the physical traits that Donovan has, as he possesses excellent pace, technical acumen on the ball, eye for teammates and finishing ability to tear apart MLS defenses. And the 31-year-old has done just that for the Galaxy and USMNT over the last decade-plus, as he has become the best ever goalscorer for both the USMNT and MLS. Along the way he has played nearly everywhere on the pitch, featuring as a striker, playing in the hole behind the striker, out wide in midfield, or even centrally in midfield, and has excelled in each area.

And while Donovan will continue to be an exceptional player in 2014, his value will go down in large part because of the fact that he will miss between four and six games because of the 2014 World Cup. This means that the star player could miss up to 18 percent of the season, while other players such as teammate Robbie Keane, Thierry Henry, Javier Morales and Will Johnson will all be available for the same $11 million and will not miss a single game. These players will inherently have at least a month to build a lead over Donovan in overall points.

In addition to losing out on a large portion of total points because of the World Cup, Donovan will also be missing out on a crucial team building period that occurs in the early part of the season. It appears that the 31-year-old will be fielded in the midfield during 2014, as youngster Gyasi Zardes and newcomers Rob Friend and Samuel will fight it out to play upfront alongside Robbie Keane. The fact that Donovan already has great chemistry with Keane is certainly encouraging, but an inability to develop a rapport with the other three from a wide position could determine how valuable the American is in terms of contributing goals and assists when he does play.

All in all, a total of five goals and 11 assists is a reasonable expectation for Donovan, as he will be relied upon to provide much more service than finishing from out wide, and his skill will partly overshadow any growing pains. This will make him worth roughly 130-150 points, which will be a decrease from the 161 point total he compiled last year and place him well below the other seven players who are going for $11 million. Until this value comes down to roughly $8 million you are better off staying as far away from the American as possible.

Tyler Leli is a Washington Capitals writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or join his network on Google.

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