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Predicting Atlanta United’s starting lineup vs. Columbus Crew

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Darkness, my old friend.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Charleston Battery at Atlanta United FC Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

After an entertaining 3-2 win over the Charleston Battery in U.S. Open Cup action, Atlanta United will return their attention to league play and the Columbus Crew this Saturday. Surprisingly enough, a few of the usual starters played on Wednesday. So, what does that mean for their availability on Saturday? Are a few players really going to play three matches in one week? This throws quite the wrench into my quest for five correct predicted lineups in a row.

Well, let’s walk into my own abyss together, shall we? Here is the definite, surefire lineup for June 17th.*

*I’m probably wrong.

Formation: 4-3-3. This is one of the only things I’m positive about.

Goalkeeper: Alec Kann. It was an unfortunate night for Kann against Charleston, as both of their shots ended up being goals. However, he’s still the clear choice keeper until Guzan gets here.

Left Back: Mark Bloom. This is a curveball, but Greg Garza is expecting the birth of his child any day now. I’m going to make the assumption he won’t be available.

Center Back #1: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez. He didn’t play on Wednesday, so he’s relatively fresh.

Center Back #2: Michael Parkhurst. Same as Pirez.

Right Back: Tyrone Mears. Same as Parkhurst.

Center Midfielder #1: Carlos Carmona. Same as Mears.

Center Midfielder #2: Jeff Larentowicz. He’s 33 and has played a lot recently. You could maybe see Kevin Kratz play here, but I prefer Kratz as a CAM option off the bench. Larentowicz is just so crucial for Atlanta at the moment.

Attacking Midfielder: Miguel Almiron. Again, he’s played a lot recently. You could maybe see Kratz here since he likely won’t be starting as often once everyone is fully rested. However, I’ll go with Miggy.

Left Winger: Yamil Asad. Same as Carmona.

Right Winger: Tito Villalba. I really, really hate this. Believe me, I tried to put Julian Gressel in here somewhere, I really did. He’s been fantastic. If you’re asking me who Tata Martino is going to choose though, it’s probably Villalba even though he hasn’t been contributing as much as Gressel has. Rest assured, Gressel will come off the bench. I guess this isn’t a bad problem to have.

Striker: Josef Martinez. Martino said after the Charleston match that it certainly wasn’t the plan to play Martinez all 90 minutes, but due to the injury to Anton Walkes, he had to use his last substitution much earlier than expected.

Martinez was also limping much of the second half due to cramping, considering he hasn’t played for that long since mid March. However, it’s good to know he didn’t aggravate the quad injury. I say play Martinez for 50-60 minutes, and then sub him off.

However, if Martino wants to be on the safe side of things, we could also see what we’ve seen for weeks now where Villalba plays up top while Gressel is on right. Perhaps even Brandon Vazquez gets the nod up top coming off a good performance against the Battery.

We aren’t sure how severe the injury Kenwyne Jones picked up while on international duty is, so let’s rule him out for now.

To recap, here’s my projected starting XI versus the Columbus Crew.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.