After a disappointing 3-1 loss to the Columbus Crew in the opening match of the 2018 Carolina Challenge Cup, Atlanta United will look to regroup against Minnesota United tomorrow night. According to Doug Roberson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Franco Escobar, Greg Garza, Michael Parkhurst and Tito Villalba all resumed training after missing last Saturday’s match. Will any of them play againt the Loons?
I am now 0-2 in 2018 preseason predictions. Let’s see what inspirational movie/television quote guides us this time around.
“Great men are not born great, they grow great.” -Mario Puzo, The Godfather
“Great predictions are not born great, they grow great.” -Haris Kruskic, Poor Lineup Prediction
Let’s do this.*
*I’m probably wrong.
Formation: 4-3-3. Tata Martino doesn’t like a 3-5-2 enough to start a match with it and I don’t blame him. Currently, we don’t have the personnel to warrant it. Stick to what you’re good at.
Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan. He was partly to blame for the second Columbus goal, but bad defending contributed to it as well. That was only the second time Guzan gave up more than two goals while between the sticks for the Five Stripes(first time since last season’s 3-3 Orlando City match). He’ll be looking for a rebound match.
Left Back: Greg Garza. He was out with a minor injury against the Crew, but returned to training the first day back.
Center Back #1: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez. He joined a counterattack on Saturday. I’m not mad about it.
Center Back #2: Michael Parkhurst. He participated in the open training scrimmage last Thursday, so he’s been on his way back for close to a week now. We should see the captain make his 2018 debut tomorrow.
Right Back: Franco Escobar. Speaking of debuts, hopefully we finally see the Argentine.
Central Midfielder #1: Jeff Larentowicz. There aren’t many people that want to continue seeing him as a defender. Bring him home, Martino.
Central Midfielder #2: Darlington Nagbe.
Attacking Midfielder: Miguel Almiron. He was playing hero ball against Columbus, but it was all for naught.
Left Winger: Ezequiel Barco. Does he look like a $15 million signing? Not yet. Should anyone be judging a player after two preseason matches? Listen to yourself, Haris.
Right Winger: Tito Villalba. Atlanta barely had any attacking threat on the right wing while Julian Gressel was starting. That should change immensely with Villalba’s pace. However, out of the four players who recently returned to training, the lion tamer’s injury seemed the most serious. It’ll be interesting to see if he does return on Wednesday or if they hold him off until Saturday against the Charleston Battery.
Striker: Josef Martinez. It’s a bit concerning how ineffective he’s been off the ball to start the preseason, but Martinez has been as effective as anyone on the team with possession. It’s just about getting him touches.
To recap, here’s my projected lineup vs. Minnesota United.
This is going to be correct at some point. I’m 50% sure of it.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.