And...exhale. Thanks to the fact that the final FIFA international window lies smack-dab in the middle of the MLS Cup Playoffs, teams in the postseason - and their fans - hold their collective breaths in hopes that their star players don’t sustain any injuries and jeopardize their availability moving forward. (That might not be an issue moving forward with MLS’s proposal to change the playoff format; more on that for another post.)
Fortunately, Atlanta United’s four players called into duty came back without a scratch and can turn their immediate focus to Sunday’s first leg of the Eastern Conference Finals at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the New York Red Bulls will be the foe.
Brad Guzan, United States
He started and went the distance in goal for the United States in Thursday’s 3-0 loss to England at Wembley Stadium. Guzan received a little grief for not going easy on Wayne Rooney during the D.C. United man’s testimonial, but the two shared a friendly moment after the match. That would be Guzan’s work for this period of friendlies as Ethan Horvath got the call in the Yanks’ 1-0 loss to Italy in Belgium.
Miguel Almiron and Tito Villalba, Paraguay
Paraguay only had one match during this window, and it was at South Africa on Tuesday as Albirroja picked up a 1-0 win. While Villalba was on Juan Carlos Osorio’s team sheet - along with Red Bulls midfielder Kaku - neither started, but came on in the second half with Villalba getting a 26-minute runout. On the other hand, Almiron found himself in the starting eleven and played the entire match, picking up a late yellow card.
Josef Martinez, Venezuela
Martinez started and went 73 minutes for La Vinotinto on Tuesday as they played Iran to a 1-1 draw. And the Atlanta striker showed off with a pretty stepover and dandy of a goal in the 64th minute that put Venezuela ahead. Only problem? He was offside.
#VINOTINTOxTLT | R.I. Irán 1-1 @SeleVinotinto— TLT ¡La Tele Tuya! (@LaTeleTuya) November 20, 2018
¡GOL ANULADO PARA VENEZUELA!❌
Josef Martínez había marcado el tanto de la ventaja para la vinotinto, pero el linier lo anuló por fuera de juego del delantero
Disfrútalo en vivo online➡️https://t.co/DbG2VyzXC8 pic.twitter.com/dxGKaCOZYW
Martinez made an appearance on Thursday as he entered as a 65th-minute substitute during Venezuela’s match with Japan, which also ended 1-1.