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Predicting Atlanta United’s starting lineup vs. Chicago Fire

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Two key players are missing, but a return is on the horizon.

MLS: New England Revolution at Atlanta United FC John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

After the international break, Atlanta United returns to action against a Chicago Fire side only playing for pride at this late stage of the season. Miguel Almiron and Tito Villalba are both out due to injury, so what will the lineup look like with their missing attacking pieces? Let’s do our best to answer that question.

Here is the definite, surefire lineup for Oct. 20.*

*I’m probably wrong.

Formation: 3-5-2. It could be 4-3-3. I don’t know. My Magic 8 Ball says 3-5-2 though.

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan. From the USMNT to the A.

Center Back #1: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez.

Center Back #2: Michael Parkhurst.

Center Back #3: Franco Escobar. “WHERE’S JEFF LARENTOWICZ?” Relax, Sam Jones. He’s coming.

Left Wingback: Greg Garza. Normally I wouldn’t expect a guy that hasn’t played for months to start, but Tata Martino had no problem with starting Darlington Nagbe as soon as he was available. Plus, the international break gave Garza even more time to adapt and return to full fitness. I like his odds to start.

Right Wingback: Julian Gressel. It’s easy to jump the gun and immediately place him in the attacking midfield role with Almiron out, but Gressel has been crucial on the right with his crossing ability. That threat gets taken away significantly if you move him centrally.

Central Midfielder #1: Jeff Larentowicz.

Central Midfielder #2: Eric Remedi.

Attacking Midfielder: Darlington Nagbe. In the attacking midfield role, he is what we expected Ezequiel Barco to be: a player that loves to control possession despite his lack of pace and is an exceptional passer. Nagbe will have to take on the role he was asked to play in more so with the Portland Timbers than in Atlanta.

Striker #1: Ezequiel Barco. I’m not incredibly excited about this because I think his best position is still as an underlying playmaker behind the main forwards, but let’s see how he does.

Striker #2: Josef Martinez.

To recap, here’s my projected lineup against the Chicago Fire.

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