After a captivating 3-0 win against the New York Red Bulls in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Finals, Atlanta United must now keep their emotions in check and see out their spot in the MLS Cup during the second leg in Harrison. Thankfully, no Atlanta player is suspended due to yellow-card accumulation and it appears that no one was hurt during the first leg, so we’re looking at the usual set of constituents to choose from in regards to the starting lineup. What could we expect on Thursday night? Let’s give it our best guess.
Here is the definite, surefire lineup for Nov. 29.*
*I’m probably wrong.
Formation: 3-5-2. As has been the case in recent matches, it may appear different on paper when the club releases their lineup graphic, but Tata Martino committed almost fully to the 3-5-2 last Sunday. Don’t expect anything different for Thursday.
Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan.
Center Back #1: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez.
Center Back #2: Michael Parkhurst.
Center Back #3: Jeff Larentowicz. Just remember that whenever one of us doubts Jeff, he writes our name down, ingrains it into his mind, and drops an assist from damn near midfield to Josef Martinez in order to begin an utter dismantling of NJRB and prove us wrong.
Left Wingback: Greg Garza. Apparently he came off last Sunday due to a very small knock and obviously general fatigue, but Garza should be good to go. You can rest during the off-season or when you’re dead or however that saying goes.
Right Wingback: Franco Escobar. Can’t really say much about his performance on Sunday that hasn’t already been said. Let’s do it again on Thursday, yeah?
Central Midfielder #1: Eric Remedi.
Central Midfielder #2: Darlington Nagbe.
Attacking Midfielder: Julian Gressel. It was quite interesting to watch Gressel’s role in the first leg. He wasn’t playing on the right, but he also wasn’t playing centrally at all times, as we saw him drift to the left relatively often. He was just kind of....doing things in the midfield? (I’m bad at this). It’s still not his best position, but Gressel’s passing and natural instinct for teammate movement can get him a long way in a lot of different roles.
Striker #1: Miguel Almiron. Martino is a smart man. In order to keep his core of midfielders that are great at passing and maintaining possession, Tito Villalba had to be the sacrificial lamb and start the match on the bench. Because of this, Martino chose to put Almiron, who loves to drift left, up top with Josef Martinez. This obviously doesn’t mean that Almiron abandoned his defensive duties. In fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. It just meant that Almiron was higher up the field to press like a mad man, force turnovers, and use his pace in wide areas to stretch the field and the Red Bulls.
Striker #2: Josef Martinez.
To recap, here’s my projected lineup against the New York Red Bulls.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.