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Predicting Atlanta United’s starting lineup vs. New York Red Bulls

same old, same old?

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Orlando City SC Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

After a satisfying win against Orlando City, Atlanta United turns its attention to a very game New York Red Bulls side. Tata Martino said Franco Escobar and Chris McCann are still unavailable. Does that change anything in terms of the formation? Possibly. I mean, it might. Let’s discuss, yeah?

Here is the definite, surefire lineup for May 20.*

*I’m probably wrong.

Formation: 3-5-2. We talk about tactical stuff a lot in the DSS group text and our very own Sam Jones basically summed up why Atlanta should go 3-5-2 on Sunday.

“My thinking is go 3-5-2 and let them have the ball a bit. They love not having the ball. It’s like their favorite thing. They had like 40% possession against NYCFC. We try and control the ball and put pressure on them and they burn us for playing Sal Zizzo at right back in a back four.”

Sam isn’t wrong. NYRB loves to press, counter, and make their opponent as uncomfortable as possible. The only tidbit I’ll add to his statement is that I think the 3-5-2 provides more outlets for the center backs to distribute the ball when being pressed and would also make Atlanta’s own half less crowded during NYRB’s press. Again, this relieves pressure for United’s defenders.

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan. Welcome back.

Center Back #1: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez.

Center Back #2: Michael Parkhurst.

Center Back #3: Miles Robinson. He was very good last week and is quickly growing into his role, building confidence directly because of it.

Left Wingback: Greg Garza.

Right Wingback: Julian Gressel. Whenever Atlanta goes with the 3-5-2, understand that Gressel will get the call and Tito Villalba will be the one on the bench. The opposite is true for the 4-3-3.

Central Midfielder #1: Jeff Larentowicz.

Central Midfielder #2: Darlington Nagbe. If Atlanta does go 3-5-2, Nagbe will play a pivotal role in their quest for three points. As NYRB presses the baackline, the midfielder must act as an outlet for the AU defenders to pass to. Once the ball gets to him, Nagbe must bridge the gap between those troubled defenders and the eager attackers waiting to make a run.

Attacking Midfielder: Miguel Almiron. MVP.

Striker #1: Ezequiel Barco. Fun Fact: Barco has created an average of almost three chances from open play per 90 minutes. That leads the team and is almost twice as much as the next highest on the list in Almiron. He’s pretty good.

Striker #2: Josef Martinez.

To recap, here’s the projected lineup against the New York Red Bulls.

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