The second leg of Atlanta United’s match against FC Motagua kicks off at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw Tuesday night. Drawing 1-1 and grabbing a critical away goal, Atlanta United’s starting XI caught a lot of people by surprise.
Atlanta United played a 4-3-3 with Escobar playing as a left-back and Adams playing as a right-back.....yeah. It didn’t go as bad as one might’ve thought, but hopefully, the Mo Adams at right-back project is over. Although they grabbed the draw and the away goal, Brad Guzan saved several of the defensive mistakes. Which begs the question: What will the defense look like tomorrow night?
I don’t think DeBoer is going to make a lot of changes, other than the one at right-back (hopefully). There is the possibility that Mulraney could make a start at LB, but he hasn’t played a game since the second half of the preseason win against Birmingham Legion. If he does get into the XI, then Atlanta will play a back five, moving Escobar at center back and benching one of the three midfielders. The squad still has its injury problem (which has gotten slightly better) as Castillo and Robinson are still not fit to play. Bello, on the other hand, did return to training with the first team Monday morning but still is out for tonight’s match. Rossetto and Castro are still OUT with problems involving their visa.
Here is my predicted XI:
Defense: Franco Escobar-Fernando Meza-Anton Walkes-Brooks Lennon
The defense again remains the hardest to predict, especially those who will play as the two full-backs. In last week’s game, Mo Adams was the surprise starter at right-back after Brooks Lennon started every single preseason game for Atlanta United, It was later found out that Brooks Lennon had a knock and was not 100%. He should be ready to go and be able to start for Atlanta, while Escobar will continue to play on the left-hand side. With Robinson still being sidelined with injury, Meza and Walkes will be the center back duo again.
Midfield: Eric Remedi- Jeff Larentowicz- Emerson Hyndman
The midfield will stay the same with Remedi, Larentowicz, and Hyndman since the midfield depth is still lacking a bit. The midfield held its own in the away match, but they still need to improve on a lot.
Remedi’s role in a starting XI is still a big question mark, and he will need to start proving himself to continue in the line-up. Hyndman, after making his move to Atlanta permanent, also has a lot to prove as our expectations of him have grown this season.
Forwards: Ezequiel Barco-Josef Martinez-Pity Martinez
PB&J has the potential to cause so many problems for the opposition’s backline. They looked rusty, but good at Motagua last Tuesday, but playing in front of their fans can help unleash the attacking power they have Tuesday night. Pity and Josef’s combination in last week’s goal was beautiful. Atlanta is going to have possession of the ball for most of the game, so look for more of the combinations between them two and Barco.
Things to look for:
How the subs change the game and formation changes. If Mulraney doesn’t start, then he surely will be one of the first subs. His projection, attack, and pace can be essential for Atlanta United. If Atlanta United is winning comfortably early, DeBoer is likely going to make substitutes and change tactics to give some players a rest and try some new ideas for the MLS opener on Saturday against Nashville.
One to watch:
Laurence Wyke has been given a chance in the 1st team squad due to the injury problems in the back for Atlanta. He’s had good performances for Atlanta United 2, so hopefully, he gets a chance to prove himself in Kennesaw.
There’s a lot of possibilities for what the starting XI, so let us know what you think De Boer should go for tonight.