After a needed win against the Chicago Fire, it all comes down to this for Atlanta United’s Supporters Shield hopes. They take on a Toronto FC side looking to halt the Five Stripes’ plans for their first trophy. Miguel Almiron still isn’t available for Atlanta, but Tito Villalba returns to the squad after missing last week’s match. How will Tata Martino’s side line up for this crucial showdown? Let’s take as educated of a guess as we can.
Here is the definite, surefire lineup for Oct. 28.*
*I’m probably wrong.
Formation: 3-5-2. Do you play a 4-3-3 on a cold, rainy night in Toronto? Nope. Play it a little more safe with the extra man to track back.
Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan.
Center Back #1: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez.
Center Back #2: Michael Parkhurst.
Center Back #3: Franco Escobar. He’s on a scoring streak now so you can’t take him out. That’s just how this works.
Left Wingback: Chris McCann. Greg Garza still hasn’t played since returning to the team from injury and this doesn’t seem like the kind of match you would risk a left back in. It should be George Bello in this spot, but McCann will get the start.
Right Wingback: Julian Gressel.
Central Midfielder #1: Jeff Larentowicz. The midfield seemed really out of whack without his physical presence and veteran leadership before he entered the match last week. You need Larentowicz in high pressure matches, especially when you also consider the impending bad weather.
Central Midfielder #2: Eric Remedi. It’s a tough call between him and Darlington Nagbe. I just think Martino will prefer Remedi’s slightly more physical approach over Nagbe’s ability to possess the ball. That’s not to say possessing the ball is a bad thing in this kind of match though. It really could be either one of these guys.
Attacking Midfielder: Ezequiel Barco. You need a credible attacking threat from the midfield and Barco has provided sparks of that over the past couple of matches. The whole product certainly isn’t there yet though and it wouldn’t be shocking to see Nagbe here instead, but I’m going with what one would call a “gut feeling”.
Striker #1: Josef Martinez. His poor form (yes, I said poor form) is something no one really wants to talk about, but we probably should if he goes into the playoffs with just two goals in the last eight matches. Let’s just avoid that conversation entirely and score a hat trick on Sunday. Yeah, that sounds good.
Striker #2: Tito Villalba. I feel like you have to utilize a player as crucial as Villalba is to this team in this crucial of a match. He could really open things up for Barco and Martinez.
To recap, here’s my projected lineup against Toronto FC.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.