After a spectacular win against the New England Revolution, Atlanta United are ready to open Mercedes-Benz Stadium to 70,000+ fans on Saturday as they take on Orlando City. However, they won't be doing it at full strength, as Leandro Gonzalez Pirez is suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Also, Greg Garza exited the New England match at halftime due to what Tata Martino is calling a "little muscular injury". Are we going to see two key defenders miss the rivalry match? Here is the definite, surefire lineup for September 16th.
*I'm probably wrong.
Formation: 4-3-3. I actually almost second guessed myself on this one due to some backline issues(hint, hint) and almost went with a 3-5-2. Then I thought to myself, "If it ain't broke...".
Goalkeeper: Brad "Egghead" Guzan.
Left Back: Chris McCann. Alright, so let's talk this through.
Greg Garza picked up a minor injury on Wednesday. Even if it's minor enough that he could probably play on Saturday, why risk it? Atlanta is only a fourth of the way through this "eight matches in 23 days" stretch. If Garza isn't at a hundred percent, there's no point in aggravating an injury for a player who already has a history of them.
Now the question still might be, why McCann? It wasn't an easy choice. However, after looking at his heat map(brought to you by WhoScored.com), it seems that Martino really did make a straight switch from Garza to McCann at the half.
As you can see, McCann stayed almost entirely on the left side of the pitch on Wednesday. Although he didn't spend much time actually defending, that can obviously be contributed to the Revolution playing with only nine men. Perhaps tomorrow's match was already on the mind of Martino and he wanted to try someone new. I was impressed by some of McCann's crosses into the box. It could be an interesting experiment.
I could've easily gone with Mikey Ambrose, but something about him not being included in the 18 strikes me as strange considering he was the first choice substitute fullback for a decent amount of time. That role has been filled again by Tyrone Mears, who we'll discuss shortly.
Center Back #1: Anton Walkes. With no Pirez and no Garza, the backline has to do some reshuffling. Walkes is a natural center back and has played there on a couple occasions for Atlanta this season.
I considered dropping Jeff Larentowicz to center back since he essentially plays it half of the time nowadays, but he's more of an impact at center mid than Walkes is at right back.
Center Back #2: Michael Parkhurst.
Right Back: Tyrone Mears. Someone has to fill in for Walkes on the right, and Mears has made a few appearances off the bench as of late.
Center Midfielder #1: Carlos Carmona.
Center Midfielder #2: Jeff Larentowicz.
Attacking Midfielder: Miguel Almiron. Him trash talking opposing players gives me life.
Left Winger: Yamil Asad.
Right Winger: Hector Villalba.
Striker: Josef Martinez. He's currently tied for tenth in MLS in goals scored with thirteen, and David Villa is in the lead with nineteen. All Martinez needs is a couple more hat tricks and we're in business.
To recap, here's my projected lineup against Orlando City.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.