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Predicting Atlanta United’s starting lineup vs. Columbus Crew

positional butterfly.

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

After a two-week hiatus, Atlanta United returns to action to take on the Columbus Crew. The biggest question regarding Atlanta’s lineup continues to be whether or not Ezequiel Barco returns from his involuntary leave of absence (I just made that up and I’m proud of it) imposed by Tata Martino. Could we expect the young Argentinian’s comeback story to begin on Sunday? Let’s take another crack at this week’s lineup.

Here is the definite, surefire lineup for August 19*.

*I’m probably wrong.

Formation: 4-3-3. With Franco Escobar coming back from his yellow card suspension, it makes sense to return to a formation that Atlanta has seen a lot of success with against the Crew. Remember, Atlanta’s matchup against Columbus earlier in the season was the first time the Five Stripes reverted back to a 4-3-3 formation since their adoption of the 3-5-2. I don’t expect it to change on Sunday.

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan.

Left Back: Chris McCann.

Center Back #1: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez.

Center Back #2: Michael Parkhurst.

Right Back: Franco Escobar.

Central Midfielder #1: Jeff Larentowicz.

Central Midfielder #2: Eric Remedi. This will be just the second time we see the midfield pairing of Larentowicz and Remedi start together. My thinking is we would’ve seen it against Toronto, but due to Escobar’s suspension, Martino felt the need to opt for Larentowicz on the backline.

Attacking Midfielder: Miguel Almiron.

Left Winger: Tito Villalba. This is a risky pick because we’ve only seen Villalba in this spot once before, but he did very well on the left against the Montreal Impact a few weeks ago. This obviously means we don’t see Barco start, but perhaps we see him come off the bench.

This will be what decides whether Atlanta goes with a 4-3-3 or 3-5-2. If Martino is uncomfortable playing Villalba on the left, I think it’s more likely we see him up top with Josef Martinez.

Right Winger: Julian Gressel.

Striker: Josef Martinez. Hopefully he can at least tie the record at home before Atlanta leaves for a four-match road trip.

To recap, here’s the projected lineup against the Columbus Crew.

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