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Predicting Atlanta United’s starting lineup vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

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4-3-3 or 3-5-2?

MLS: D.C. United at Atlanta United FC John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

After a refreshing 3-1 beatdown of D.C. United, Atlanta United hope for back-to-back victories at home against the lengthy Vancouver Whitecaps. The big question is whether or not Tata Martino continues with a 3-5-2, or if he feels that a 4-3-3 better suits the club in this particular matchup. Here is the definite, surefire lineup for March 17.*

*i’m probably wrong.

Formation: 3-5-2. Well, it didn’t take us too long to answer that question. The Whitecaps are a better team than D.C., but they play a similar style. They sit back, hope for their opponent to make a mistake, and counter with their pace. The 3-5-2 contested this quite well last week and our best available players were all playing in their most suitable positions.

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan. He didn’t have to do a whole lot last week, but was furious to concede a very D.C.-esque goal toward the end of the match.

Center Back #1: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez. LGP’s been a little shaky to start the season. There was an instance the past two matches in a row now where he lost possession in Atlanta’s own half and the backline could only attempt to catch up to the opposing striker. Luckily, Darren Mattocks’ didn’t make us pay for it. Pirez has still done a lot of things right, but he’s uncharacteristically prone to odd errors so far this campaign.

Center Back #2: Michael Parkhurst. The captain has quite frankly bossed whatever backline Martino throws his way. It’s impressive.

Center Back #3: Franco Escobar. He seemed a lot more comfortable last Sunday than against the Houston Dynamo. That obviously has a lot to do what was being asked of him and the simplistic nature of D.C.’s attack, but a good performance is a good performance. His first touch still needs some work though, especially when Atlanta comes up against a team that will press them the entire match.

Left Wingback: Greg Garza. He said he felt lonelier than he ever has before while playing in this spot last week. That’s a little sad, but he played well. He’ll get over it I’m sure.

Right Wingback: Julian Gressel. Should never play centrally again. He’s found his calling. Gressel is more than capable of taking on this extra workload and can be trusted to track back and defend while also contributing to an attack.

Central Midfielder #1: Jeff Larentowicz. Again, it’s amazing how this team looks when all of its players are in their natural positions. Larentowicz was terrific last week as well.

Central Midfielder #2: Darlington Nagbe. He linked up very well with Atlanta’s attackers. It’s a promising sign.

Attacking Midfielder: Mi amor. Tienes mi corazon.

Striker #1: Josef Martinez. Great to see him on the scoresheet once again afer going a whole month without scoring. That’s 20 years in Josef Time.

Striker #2: Tito Villalba. “For me, nothing changes’. That was Villalba’s direct quote when asked how his role in the 3-5-2 is different from the 4-3-3, and he’s not wrong. Villalba’s still the same explosive, pacy winger we’ve come to know and love, but now he has even more space to attack. That’s a scary proposition for an opposing backline.

To recap, here’s my projected lineup against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.