It’s here. It’s finally here. After over five months of waiting, Atlanta United’s 2018 season begins tomorrow. Ezequiel Barco’s unfortunate injury means we won’t have the entirety of the ideal starting XI to start the season. Who replaces him for the time being? I was 0 for 4 in my preseason predictions, but hey. That’s what the preseason is for, right?
Here is the definite, surefire lineup for March 3rd. As always...*
*I’m probably wrong.
Formation: 4-3-3. Good start, Haris.
Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan. Easy money.
Left Back: Greg Garza. We haven’t seen him play since the first match of the Carolina Challenge Cup, but he has been training regularly with the team this past week.
Center Back #1: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez. Yes.
Center Back #2: Michael Parkhurst. This is tricky because he didn’t train with the first XI yesterday. Jeff Larentowicz filled in again while Chris McCann played in the midfield.
Here at the training ground. McCann and Gressel are training with the first XI (no bibs). Take that fwiw. #ATLUTD— Joe Patrick (@japatrick200) March 1, 2018
However, my gut is telling me to go with Parkhurst on this one. My gut has been wrong literally every time in 2018, but old habits die hard. Please, no McCann.
Right Back: Franco Escobar. I like him. He’s basically an attacker trapped in a defender’s body.
Central Midfielder #1: Jeff Larentowicz. It’ll be interesting to see Kevin Kratz and McCann rotate the holding mid role by committee unti we SIGN A 6!!!
Central Midfielder #2: Darlington Nagbe.
Attacking Midfielder: Miguel Almiron. Smiles, lots and lots of smiles.
Left Winger: Julian Gressel. For the first time ever, I hope I’m wrong about a lineup prediction. I’d love to see Andrew Carleton get the start. However, it’s more likely that he comes off the bench and plays 20-30 minutes in the second half as Tata Martino opts for reigning MLS Rookie of the Year Gressel. At least Carleton is in the coversation while Barco is out.
Right Winger: Tito Villalba. We may see him in the inverted winger role on the left, but it seems a little off to mess with what a player is most comfortable with, especially when that role is the one he’ll be utilized in most often.
Striker: Josef Martinez. Hey Josef, do you remember what you did last season? Okay, do that again except you’re not allowed to be injured. Gracias.
Subs: Oh look, bonus predictions! I figured it’s a good idea for the first match of the season. Alec Kann, Sal Zizzo, McCann, Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu, Carleton, Brandon Vazquez, Romario Williams.
To recap, here’s my projected lineup against the Houston Dynamo.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.