With the 2018 MLS season still nearly two weeks away, we here at The Blue Testament are growing impatient. Sure all the preseason games help a bit, but we decided to fill our time in another way. So we decided to simulate the 2018 MLS Season* using FIFA 18.
*FIFA 18 doesn’t have LAFC so we suppose Benny Feilhaber and Latif Blessing have disappeared into the ether.
First, we are using an Xbox One for the simulation (though I’m not sure if that impacts anything). For the first story in this (who knows how many parts) series we thought we’d break down where the roster stands and the rankings of the players and a few ground rules.
Below is a table of the most up to date roster available. It includes brand new signings like Johnny Russell and Felipe (he dropped the Gutierrez if you hadn’t heard) so it seems relatively up to date. A few notes about the table below. First, the positions aren’t mine, but the games. Some of them feel a bit wacky.
Also, some of the ratings are criminally low. Amer Didic is a 54? While Kevin Ellis is a 67 (ahead of Didic and Emiliano Amor, who are both ahead of him on the depth chart). Plus Homegrown signing Matt Lewis is already rated a 62. The Didic number is really bad.
Gianluca Busio is simply missing. Maybe because he’s 15-years-old and the game only allows players on the senior team when they are 16 (which seems silly and arbitrary). Also, rookies Eric Dick and Graham Smith are missing, but they just signed last week.
Sporting KC FIFA 18 Roster
|CM, CAM, LM
|RM, CAM, ST
|RW, LW, LM
|LB, CM, RW, LW
|RM, LM, CM, LWB
|RW, RM, ST
|CDM, CM, CB
|RW, LW, ST
Now knowing the levels of the players (per FIFA) we have to make some decisions. First, I transfer listed Kevin Ellis. He is likely to be traded or cut soon, so might as well get rid of him. Second, I went to find Brad Evans and, maybe because he’s not on a roster, but he’s not in the game. Last, I decided I would continue the search for a Designated Player level center forward to finish the promise that Robb Heineman and Peter Vermes made before the start of the season.
As to where to send the scouts, the game had already sent one to the United States and Austria. Hungary isn’t a choice, so I let those two stands. Then I sent one to Chile and Portugal since those have been locations of past efforts. Next will probably be Spain and then maybe England.
With everything else out of the way I’m forced to pick a Starting XI as only so many elements of the game can be simulated. In an effort to be somewhat realistic I’m going to try to put the most logical players out on the pitch based on past experience, preseason and the ratings of the players. So while Shelton appears to be the possible starter at CF, he is rated a lot lower than Rubio, so that decision was made for me.
The game had Gerso on the LW and Russell on the RW, but I flipped them. At left back, since that’s how preseason has gone, I put Lobato in over Sinovic. Also, Medranda can play so many roles, he seems like good depth and is only one point better than Lobato.
In the midfield the game defaulted to Felipe, Croizet and Ilie so I left that alone. I imagine Espinoza will be a starter on Day 1, but he’ll get plenty of minutes (as will all the backups) since the stamina is critically low for some of these guys and they can’t play in back-to-back games. Doesn’t EA Sports know that Vermes has his players Sporting Fit?
Here is the Starting XI:
Zusi - Opara - Besler - Lobato
Croizet - Ilie - Felipe
Gerso - Rubio - Russell
The Second XI, which will probably shuffle based on stamina, looks like this:
Melia (GK stamina is a non-issue)
Lindsey - Lewis - Amor - Sinovic
Medranda - Musa - Espinoza
Belmar - Shelton - Salloi
As you can see, FIFA’s terrible ratings force me to bench Didic, despite that he would clearly be 3rd or 4th.
As many of you know, you can train five players a week in FIFA. You get greater progress out of training players that are “promising.” The only three listed with this designation are Daniel Salloi, Jimmy Medranda and Jaylin Lindsey. So I only trained them, with Lindsey and Salloi getting double sessions each week. Much like the games, I’ll simulate the sessions to limit my impact on the validity of the simulation.
The team has no Academy when the game started but because I have no intention of spending on huge transfers (I’m running Sporting KC guys!) I spent about $12 million on scouts. Vermes says he wants a Starting XI full of SKC Academy players and I’m going to spend big to help him accomplish that.
I sent one scout to the United States (cause... uh... MLS), another to Austria (it borders Hungary — which cannot be scouted) and Argentina (there is a movement afoot). The likelihood is this won’t pan out in 2018 but if the simulation continues then who knows.
- The game says Gerso recently arrived from Belenenses for $10.5 million. Obviously a bit more than they paid.
- No other players have transfer fees listed (despite arriving more recently — Felipe, Russell, etc.)
- The game has the following contracts expiring after this season: Colton Storm, Emiliano Amor (loan), James Musa, Crisitian Lobato, Khiry Shelton but noticeably misses players like Besler, Espinoza and Zusi who will be out of contract.
- After Ellis was transfer listed, the game said it was “no surprise.”
The next installment will pick up in preseason and carry us through the first half of the season. You can read that here.