One of the main concerns about Tata Martino during his time with Atlanta United was how seriously he took the U.S. Open Cup. In reality, it’s something that all MLS coaches face, but I’m not sure Martino made it a heavy priority despite stating otherwise.
In the case of Frank de Boer, he’s in a similar situation as Martino was in 2017 as he’s experiencing the U.S. Open Cup for the first time. And at least from the sounds of it, he’s approaching this as he would any other match. The good news is that MLS has hit the pause button due to the international break; the bad news is that players like Josef Martinez (with Venezuela at Copa America) and Tito Villalba (injury) won’t be available.
de Boer also said yesterday that Ezequiel Barco, Julian Gressel, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and Brad Guzan wouldn’t make the trip. Barco’s coming off U-20 World Cup duty with Argentina, Gressel and LGP are getting much needed rest, while Alec Kann, who’s started all 4 of Atlanta’s U.S. Open Cup matches to date, should get the call against Charleston.
All that being said, here’s a look at my predicted lineup for Atlanta United against the Battery:
Firstly, MLS teams are allowed 5 international players on their roster during the U.S. Open Cup, and with Barco out, Atlanta don’t have to worry about this since it has 6 internationals on its roster.
With Gonzalez Pirez staying home, all signs point to Florentin Pogba getting the call next to Miles Robinson at centerback. (If not tomorrow, when?) Romario Williams is the easy call at striker in Josef Martinez’s absence, and he’s done well for himself in U.S. Open Cup play - scoring and drawing a penalty against the Battery last year in Kennesaw. I like Ambrose getting the call at left back to give Michael Parkhurst a blow, especially since the Texan is a true fullback. That gives Atlanta strong options on either side to work the ball along the width of the field and allows Martinez to drop in behind his attackers, especially when Escobar gets forward in the attack.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments.