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Predicting Atlanta United’s starting lineup at Orlando City

massive Eastern Conference matchup.

MLS: Sporting KC at Atlanta United FC Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

After a controversial 2-0 defeat against Sporting Kansas City last Wednesday, Atlanta United turns their attention to a resurgent Orlando City.

Tata Martino told reporters on Thursday morning that Franco Escobar and Chris McCann will still be unavailable with injuries, but the good news is that either Alec Kann or Mitch Hildebrandt will likely be available. Who starts in goal though? The Five Stripes came out in a 4-3-3 last week, the first time since the opening debacle of a match against the Houston Dynamo. Will we see it again on Sunday? Let’s try and answer these questions.

Here is the definite, surefire lineup for May 13.*

*I’m probably wrong.

Formation: 4-3-3. Martino said the reason he chose to go with this formation against Sporting KC is because they’re a team that likes to build from the back and use the passing lanes to get the ball to their good attacking players. The same can be said for Orlando, and with a 4-3-3, it’s much easier to press the opposing backline and make it more difficult for them to get the passes they want.

Goalkeeper: Alec Kann. “Fun Fact: I’ve never gotten this prediction wrong.” is a statement I made in the last prediction. Karma is vengeful. It’s a toss-up between Kann, Hildebrandt, or Christensen. The reason Christensen could have a chance to start is because the other two keepers might act as second choices just out of an absolute last resort if they’re still not fully fit.

Left Back: Greg Garza.

Center Back #1: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez.

Center Back #2: Michael Parkhurst.

Right Back: Sal Zizzo. DSS will go into detail a little later in the week about why Martino doesn’t see Julian Gressel as a clear option in this position. The coach seemed to be satisfied with Zizzo’s start against SKC.

Central Midfielder #1: Jeff Larentowicz.

Central Midfielder #2: Darlington Nagbe.

Attacking Midfielder: Miguel Almiron.

Left Winger: Ezequiel Barco.

Right Winger: Tito Villalba. Some people may have been surprised that he started over Gressel on Wednesday, but Villalba is much more of a true winger when utilizing a 4-3-3 than the German is. Gressel is undoubtedly best when he’s able to freely get up and down the field in a 3-5-2 from the wingback spot(again, this is something we’ll talk about next week). Villalba’s pace and skill moves serve Atlanta better in this system. Also, there’s no way the “Lion Tamer” doesn’t start against Orlando.

Striker: Josef Martinez.

To recap, here’s my projected lineup against Orlando City.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.