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Predicting Atlanta United’s starting lineup at NYCFC

Oh boy.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Toronto FC John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

After a disappointing end to the season, Atlanta United hopes to rebound against New York City FC in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Miguel Almiron’s status is a bit up in the air and Chris McCann is certainly out, so what does that mean for the lineup? Let’s give it our best guess for this pretty important match.

Here is the definite, surefire lineup for Nov. 3.*

*I’m probably wrong.

Formation: 3-5-2. It would be borderline disappointing to see a 4-3-3. Yankee Stadium is not made for teams to put numbers up top and try to outscore NYC. Only once this season has NYC given up multiple goals at home in one match. In a moment’s notice, they can intercept a pass, counter, and be right in front of Brad Guzan. The extra defender in a 3-5-2 is crucial for this kind of match.

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan. Sorry for spoiling that already.

Center Back #1: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez.

Center Back #2: Michael Parkhurst.

Center Back #3: Franco Escobar. Julian Gressel must stay on the right if you’re in a 3-5-2. He’s probably the most important player for the Five Stripes in the formation.

Left Wingback: Greg Garza. With McCann out, Garza’s veteran presence has to be the one to step in. It was a bit of a blessing last week to get him some playing time before being asked to start his first match in months. As much as we’d like to see George Bello, putting a 16-year-old in the starting lineup of a playoff match being played on a mini pitch might be asking for too much.

Right Wingback: Julian Gressel.

Central Midfielder #1: Jeff Larentowicz. Keep him here, please.

Central Midfielder #2: Eric Remedi.

Attacking Midfielder: Darlington Nagbe.

With Almiron apparently not likely to start the match, Nagbe will get the shout again. He was the team’s best performer last week by a wide margin. The big thing you miss with Almiron out is his defensive work rate. Let’s hope Atlanta can hold NYC off until the MVP candidate returns to the field.

Striker #1: Josef Martinez. Hopefully that penalty last week ended any minor mental block he may have had.

Striker #2: Tito Villalba.

To recap, here’s the projected lineup against NYCFC.

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