Well, it’s March again which here in America can only mean four things: (1) people will get drunk while concocting brackets and actually watching college basketball, (2) people will get drunk while dressing in green and mocking Irish stereotypes, (3) people will get drunk while selecting their MFLS rosters and unfortunately end up with Galaxy defenders in their starting 11, and (4) people will be constantly hung over and unable to concentrate on work.
As I’m a ginger-haired gent who loves soccer, gambling and (of course) a wee bit of the hooch, I plan to do all four this month, but it may be the third activity that excites me the most. Now, I don’t mean “excites me” in some kind of sick “arousal” sort of way, but… well, actually the fact that MFLS will be back for its 14th season this month does sort of give me wood. If that offends you, I’m really sorry. If it means I have some unhealthy sexual psychosis, I’m really scared.
For those people out there who have no idea what this “MFLS” I speak of is, let me introduce you to one of America’s… no, the entire world’s greatest inventions. I am not talking about the Multi-Function Laser System nor am I referring to the Malaysian Family Life Survey. It’s also definitely not the Multiple Feedback Loop Synchronizer, because I honestly don’t even know what the hell that is. No silly, I’m talking about Major Fantasy League Soccer.
MFLS is the best MLS fantasy league in the world, hands down. If you don’t know what “MLS” is, just stop reading this article, go buy a pint of ice cream and curl back up on your couch and watch more of your tapes of the early seasons of The Bachelor. MFLS is the grassroots fantasy league that features a steady, dedicated group of 2,000-3,000 of the most diehard US soccer fans. In fact, if you go to www.grassrootssoccer.com, you even get redirected to MFLS.
It is free to play, though sidebets can be (and in many cases are) organized among divisions. If you’re a newbie, or if your division was (like mine) dissolved after last year (just like my beloved Tampa Bay Mutiny were almost a decade ago), you will be able to find a division who will take you in. Because the NPL is no more, I am going to play in the USA v. World division this year (which features the tyrant king of MFLS, “Hotspur”). If you want in a division, just ask. Chances are you will get an invite unless the division is full.
How do you play this MFLS I speak of? First, you select a roster of 19 players and a coach and then you try to put your best eleven on the field each week. You are not stuck with your initial roster, but you only get 35 transfers for the entire season. Plus, there is a salary cap and transfer fees to consider when you are managing your squad. For all the information regarding how the cap and transfers work, go to the MFLS roster moves page for the details.
How do you score points? Well, only your coach and your starting 11 can score points. The points system is a bit elaborate, so I won’t go into too much detail here, but I will say that each starter can accumulate points not only for his own personal play but also for his team’s performance. You can get both positive and negative points too, so there are some weeks where you will feel like you would have done better if you had just played all benchwarmers.
As for the prediction league, it’s pretty self-explanatory. You predict the scores of every game each week and you receive points based on how close your guesses come to the actual results. You don’t have to be Nostradamus or Ms. Cleo to do well in this aspect of MFLS. In fact, if you faithfully make your picks each week you will probably finish in the League Top 50 like I did last year. You will also know the weekly matchups, which will help your fantasy side.
Overall, the fantasy and prediction leagues’ rules are not too complicated, but I don’t have the time to set them all out here, so if you are interested in playing I suggest you read the entire rules page. As the season progresses, you will compete against the other teams in your division as well as the entire league at large for fantasy supremacy. There are multiple side tourneys and cups too just like in real soccer. My trophy mantle is still bare because I choked in the Miklos Fehrer Cup Final last year.
As for stategy, I do not believe there is one definitive strategy that best results in MFLS glory, and if there is, Kent Kille (aka “Hotspur”) definitely isn’t telling anyone. Kille won the first ever MFLS Double last year by finishing #1 in the fantasy league and the prediction league. It was an amazing feat and one I doubt will ever be matched. In any event, different management philosophies have won titles in the past, so I would encourage you to adopt your own.
One strategy you definitely should not follow is the one I employed the last two years. I like to call my method the “Laws of Lalas” because it basically features me making a slew of stupid transfers to bring in players who fail to produce while the guys I dump go on to post huge numbers. It also leaves my team with no transfers left with more than one-third of the season still remaining. I even changed my team name this year to “Laws of Lalas” to reflect my traditionally pitiful performances. I am going to try to be more conservative this year, but I doubt I will.
When I select my roster this year I will no doubt again find myself thinking: What would Alexi do?
Well, he would probably smoke a joint, but that is besides the point. The point does involve grass though because the point is MFLS is the real grassroots MLS fantasy experience. Mark Wheeler, a God among US soccer fans, doesn’t use the league as a tool to make tons of money, he uses it to bring real soccer fanatics together in a place where they can enjoy the league and communicate in the forums about MFLS, MLS and just about everything else under the sun.
In fact, the humorous discussions in the forums should be reason enough to join. If you think I say some pretty comically irreverent things on this site, you would definitely enjoy the musings of the MFLS bunch. If you want to become even more obsessed with MLS, I encourage you to sign up for MFLS. I promise you that you will not regret it. Though you may end up regretting not playing Landycakes during the second leg of the Miklos Fehrer Cup Final, just like I do.
If you want to stay disinterested and play a half-assed fantasy league, I would recommend you check out the MLS “official” version. I hope you like tons of advertisements and a completely foolish scoring format though. If you want to play with real fans, come and join us at MFLS. If you want to play with yourself, opt for the MLS league. Well, I guess if you want to play with yourself in general, maybe you should go ahead and hit eject on that tape of The Bachelor you have in right now. Unless, of course, you are into that sort of thing.
I hope to see you all in the forums!