Atlanta United will head to the Windy Suburb looking to get more of what they got the last time they faced the Chicago Fire and won 4-0. Of course, the Fire are a much improved team and since adding Bastian Schewinsteiger look like a team that could contend for the World Cup! The Five stripes will have a challenge on their hands possibly needing to replace Miguel Almiron in the line up and will have to decide whether Josef Martinez plays in the game. Kenwyne Jones is also on international duty with Trinidad & Tobago so United will be looking at who to bring into the 18 and fill his boots as well.
Coach Tata Martino spoke to reporters today about who will be missing, who will play, and what will be different now that Chicago has a world class midfielder setting the tempo. Asked about how Miguel Almiron figures into the team’s plans and the role that he will play when he returns from international duty against Peru this evening, Martino said, “we have to see how much he plays tonight and what condition he’ll be in to play for us on Saturday.” Almiron wasn’t the only ‘wait and see’ situation that Martino addressed with the press.
As the calendar passed the original four to six week projection for Josef Martinez to return from injury, the question on everyone’s mind was will the Atlanta United striker play this weekend? In response Martino managed to be both equivocal and incontrovertible saying, “there’s a good chance he’ll participate, we don’t know as a starter or if he’ll come off the bench yet. We’re going to see how today goes.”
In addition to Miguel Almiron, Kenwyne Jones is playing in a World Cup qualifier and will be facing off against the U.S. Men’s National Team tonight and will be in Costa Rica to take on the Ticos on Tuesday. With him out too, Martino was much more reluctant to share details about his plans telling reporters that Brandon Vazquez “has a chance of traveling.”
While Martino is clearly a master at obscuring his plans for roster selection to the media, he was sure of one thing. Asked if he was reluctant to send players to their national teams after the injury that Josef Martinez suffered, Tata said, “I love it when our guys play for their national teams, it’s not something that I’ll so no to.” Having his players’ backs and keeping goals and priorities in line will go a long way in keeping team morale high after difficult games like the one last week against Vancouver.