Atlanta United were rather fortunate to escape Alajuelense with a 1-0 win in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16: a red card late to Brad Guzan late in the 1st half—leading to the debut of Rocco Rios Novo in net—stacked the odds against the Five Stripes. But following a penalty almost every Atlanta fan agrees wasn’t one, it was Ezequiel Barco bagging the match’s only goal, with Rios Novo and the defense holding strong to hand the hosts their first loss in some time.
Guzan’s absence, for one, leads to several changes in the lineup. Does Gabriel Heinze stick with his 18-year-old keeper or rely more on experience against what looks to be a quite shorthanded Alajuense side? Here’s what I think the starting XI will look like on Tuesday:
- Yes, I’m starting Ben Lundgaard if I’m Gabriel Heinze. Don’t get me wrong: Rios Novo held his own last Tuesday when called upon, but I think in this case, with Lundgaard available, the 25-year-old will get the call.
- No Alan Franco as his visa work isn’t yet completed, so we’ll see the Miles Robinson-Anton Walkes pairing once again that did well last week apart from a heart-in-throat tackle from Walkes that saw him let off with just a yellow. (Sorry, Atlanta United fans, but you won’t get the pleasure of seeing 4 Designated Players in the matchday lineup.)
- Speaking of soon-to-be former DPs, Marcelino Moreno is back, so he’ll slot into the LW spot. That being said, he and Barco will swap throughout the evening.
What are your thoughts? Chime in below in the comments.