After Atlanta United’s scintillating win against LAFC, the Five Stripes turn their attention to undefeated NYCFC. It’s been a hectic week for Atlanta’s player personnel to say the least. Ezequiel Barco and Josef Martinez are both coming off of injuries, but Tata Martino said they are both available for Sunday’s match. Do they start? Also, Tito Villalba is a game-time decision after missing training the entire week. Does Martino throw him out there? This is...tough. As always, we try to figure it out.
Here is the definite, surefire lineup for April 15.*
*i’m probably wrong.
Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan. Easy.
Center Back #1: Chris McCann. Peasy.
Center Back #2: Michael Parkhurst. Lemon.
Center Back #3: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez. Squeezy.
Left Wingback: Greg Garza. He’s fit after missing all of last week’s trainings.
Right Wingback: Julian Gressel. The interesting stuff is coming, everyone. Don’t worry.
Central Midfielder #1: Jeff Larentowicz. Alright.
Central Midfielder #2: Darlington Nagbe. Here we go.
Attacking Midfielder: Miguel Almiron. It isn’t out of the usual for Almiron to play here obviously, but it does mean that I don’t think he plays up top with Martinez like Martino suggested he could.
Striker #1: Ezequiel Barco. Boom! This is a really tough choice because Atlanta gradually worked him back into training this week by giving him a scheduled day off on Wednesday. Also, the club tends to err on the side of caution when it comes to players returning from multiple-match injuries by giving them minutes coming off the bench as substitutes before they enter the XI. Plus, Martino seemed to also be pretty split on whether or not Barco starts, saying on Friday that the decision is still being made. Wait, so why am I expecting him to start? I don’t know, man. It’s one of those gut feelings. I thought Barco looked good from a fitness standpoint this week. Let’s see what happens.
Striker #2: Josef Martinez. It’s hard to imagine Villalba plays without an entire week of training. Martino also admitted that if it was a more important match, he would probably play. However, they don’t need to risk him. Also, Martinez doesn’t need fingers to play soccer. Just ask the coach.
Tata on Josef: “He has some pain in a couple of his fingers, and if it’s still painful on Sunday, we’re just going to have to cut off his fingers and he’ll play anyway.”— Dirty South Soccer (@DirtySouthSoc) April 13, 2018
To recap, here’s my projected lineup against NYCFC.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.