After a truly disappointing performance against the Chicago Fire, Atlanta United will play their first midweek match of the season against affiliate club Charleston Battery. This historic match will see Atlanta compete in the U.S. Open Cup for the first time ever, at Fifth/Third Bank Stadium. Considering they just came off an MLS match on Saturday and play another one against the Columbus Crew on June 17th, don’t expect to see the usual faces take the pitch on Wednesday.
Just for the record, it would be a shame for my four-match lineup prediction streak to be put on the line for a match as unpredictable as this one will be, so I won’t. Atlanta considers this a separate competition, so I will as well. Regardless though, here is the definite, surefire lineup for June 14th.*
*I’m probably wrong.
Formation: 4-3-3. This could very well change if Tata Martino wants to experiment and/or get a specific group of players in the squad, but let’s just say he’ll be looking to stay consistent and see how they do in the current system.
Goalkeeper: Kyle Reynish. He’s been the second choice keeper for most of the season, but expect to see Alexander Tambakis on the bench as well.
Left Back: Mikey Ambrose. There’s no other true left back on the squad not named Greg Garza.
Center Back #1: Miles Robinson.
Center Back #2: Anton Walkes. We might even see Zach Loyd finally make an appearance.
Right Back: Mark Bloom.
Center Midfielder #1: Harrison Heath.
Center Midfielder #2: Chris Goslin. The other three realistic options for midfielders are Kevin Kratz, Chris McCann and Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu. Kratz played all 90 minutes against Chicago and could be relied on against the Columbus Crew if Josef Martinez doesn’t return to the lineup. Wheeler-Omiunu hasn’t gotten playing time anywhere this season, unlike Heath who had made one appearance for Atlanta United and Goslin who made an appearance for the Charleston Battery.
That’s still slim amounts of playing time though. I think the three midfielders(if it ultimately is three midfielders) will be the most interesting selections Martino makes.
Attacking Midfielder: Chris McCann. He isn’t really “attacking” per say, but almost every time he’s made an appearance off the bench, it’s been to fill in for whoever was the CAM at that time. That’s good enough for me.
Left Winger: Andrew Carleton. Aah, yes.
Right Winger: Jacob Peterson. This is a tough prediction to make because he hasn’t made the bench once since his ankle injury. However, there’s no other obvious winger option on the team. If Peterson isn’t healthy, I suppose we might see a usual midfielder or striker try their luck.
Striker: Josef Martinez. In a story from MLS, Martino said "Wednesday we'll see. There's a chance that we will change it so he starts so he's able to play more minutes and start getting match fit. And then we'll take him off it in the second half."
That’s good enough for me. Jones will have played with the Trinidad & Tobago national team the day before, so he’s almost certainly unavailable. Expect to see Brandon Vazquez on the bench.
Some fun facts about this predicted lineup, four of the eleven players have made an appearance for the Charleston Battery at some point(Ambrose, Robinson, Goslin, Carleton).
Also, the average age of this predicted lineup is 24.
To recap, here’s my projected starting XI against the Charleston Battery.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.