After a hard-earned point in Seattle, Atlanta United head to foreign soil to take on undefeated Toronto FC. Last week, the absence of two regular starters from the lineup due to a deserved rest from international duties made for a tougher test against the Sounders. However, Miguel Almiron, Carlos Carmona, and also Kenwyne Jones are now fully fit. Will all three of them find a spot in the starting XI this Saturday? Here is the definite, surefire lineup for April 8th.*
*I’m probably wrong.
Formation: The Seattle match was the first time this season that the starting formation was announced as a 4-3-3 instead of a 4-2-3-1. Lineups after international breaks will continue to look a little funky due to the absence of key players, so I don’t expect a 4-3-3 to be a regular thing. Tata Martino will return to a 4-2-3-1, the system Atlanta United has been most successful in.
Goalkeeper: Alec Kann. Two clean sheets in a row for the Decatur native.
Left Back: Greg Garza. I really can’t say enough about Atlanta’s backline. In my opinion, they’ve been just as impressive as the attack.
Center Back #1: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez. Speaking of those I can’t say enough good things about, Atlanta United hasn’t conceded a goal during the run of play while Pirez is on the pitch. Crazy stats like that seem to have become a normal occurrence for him, and Pirez is proving to be an absolute steal from the off-season.
Center Back #2: Michael Parkhurst. Even as the captain, he’s the most underappreciated member of the backline.
Right Back: Tyrone Mears.
Defensive Midfielder #1: Julian Gressel. He certainly made things happen last match as an attacking mid, but moving him back to CDM is best simply because Almiron thrives as a CAM.
Defensive Midfielder #2: Carlos Carmona. Jeff Larentowicz was very impressive last week, but I think Martino will favor Carmona.
Left Midfielder: Yamil Asad. I predicted Asad to play as a False 9 against the Sounders. I was right about the False 9 part, wrong about the Asad part. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the week he plays up top, but for now I’ll keep him on the left.
Attacking Midfielder: Miguel Almiron. He’s just good at soccer.
Right Midfielder: Hector Villalba. Alright, so Villalba was bad last week. In fairness to him, I’m not sure how often he’s ever played as a striker during his career. However, his first touch let him down on more than one occasion. A good first touch is critical while playing as a #9, but on the wing, even a bad first touch can be made up for with speed, and especially speed like Villalba’s. Let’s keep him where he seems to be the most comfortable.
Striker: Kenwyne Jones. Aah finally, release the Trinidadian.
I think Jones showcased exactly what he can bring to the team in the twenty or so minutes he played in Seattle. Although it goes against everything Martino believes in when it comes to the attack, there’s no denying Jones’ ability to win headers and flick on to a nearby teammate. If him and Josef Martinez have anything in common, it’s their ability to win aerial battles. Martinez jumps five feet in the air, and Jones is like ten feet tall. I think you all see where I’m going with this.
With that being said, expect the Soca Warrior to get the nod.
To recap, here’s my projected starting XI against Toronto FC.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.