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Predicting Atlanta United’s starting lineup against Toronto FC

How might things look with Ezequiel Barco away for the U-20 World Cup?

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Atlanta United FC Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Is Atlanta United back? While it did beat a banged-up Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, it will have a much stiffer test against a much more in-form Toronto FC this evening.

Let’s not waste any time and get right into it:

The big change is obviously in the attack. With Ezequiel Barco out for the next several weeks on national duty at the U-20 World Cup, all signs point to Tito Villalba to take his place in the lineup, allowing Pity Martinez to sit behind Josef Martinez as the No. 10. I don’t know if Pity Martinez sees a lot of time out wide tonight, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Villalba drift further forward at times in more of a striker’s role beside Josef Martinez. (That would suggest Darlington Nagbe being more involved.) Also, while we know what to expect between Julian Gressel and Franco Escobar on the right, how well Villalba combines with Brek Shea on the left side will be equally important as Atlanta will look to test Toronto’s outside backs.

Overall, I wouldn’t expect a ton of rotation just yet with a week-plus off between last Saturday’s match against the Colorado Rapids and this past Sunday’s against Sporting Kansas City, but I think Frank de Boer’s substitution patterns will be made in part with an eye toward a big rivalry match against Orlando City SC on Sunday. I’d also wouldn’t expect Justin Meram on the team sheet as he hasn’t trained with the club yet, but he should be on it Sunday.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments.