After a shockingly poor showing from Atlanta United last week, they’ll look to bounce back in their 2018 home opener against a D.C. United team that had the Five Stripes’ number all of last season. Does Tata Martino make any personnel changes on Sunday due to their performance against the Houston Dynamo? Is Leandro Gonzalez Pirez fit? If not, who replaces him? Let’s attempt to answer all of this.
Here is the definite, surefire lineup for March 11th.*
*I’m probably wrong.
Formation: 4-3-3. Tata Martino implemented a 3-5-2 this week, but I’m not buying into it quite yet. We’ve seen Martino tease it throughout the preseason, but never fully commit to it. I think it’s likely we see the formation during the match at some point, but he won’t begin the match with it.
Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan. He was good up until his terrible attempt at a clearance that led to Houston’s fourth goal.
Left Back: Greg Garza. He was anonymous last week. However, look for Garza to be much more impactful against D.C., a team that will allow opposing full backs to have possession in their half of the field.
Center Back #1: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez. Oh, yes. Pirez returned to training on Friday and will almost certainly continue to train with the team on Saturday. Two injury-free practices after a few days of rest should mean the Argentine is good to go. He’ll be motivated after a bad first half performance culminated in an early exit in Houston.
Center Back #2: Michael Parkhurst. He got 60 minutes of playing time against the Dynamo and practiced all week. The captain should be good to go.
Right Back: Franco Escobar. He’s so good at soccer that he tried to create a new rule last week that allows a defender to use their hands.
Central Midfielder #1: Jeff Larentowicz. At long last, we should finally see him back in his usual role.
Central Midfielder #2: Darlington Nagbe. He was on the field last week........let’s hope for more this time around.
Attacking Midfielder: Miguel Almiron. Julian Gressel did not do well as the final link to Atlanta’s pacy attackers. That role is much more suited to Almiron’s style.
Left Winger: Julian Gressel. Although pretty unfamiliar to this role, the obvious reason as to why he played centrally last week, this is what was most concerning with Atlanta’s attack and hopefully Martino returns Almiron to his natural position.
Right Winger: Tito Villalba.
Striker: Josef Martinez. He loves playing at home. Don’t be surprised if he scores like a billion goals on Sunday.
To recap, here’s the projected lineup against D.C. United.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.