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Predicting Atlanta United’s starting XI at the Philadelphia Union

Barco’s absence means some tweaks to the lineup.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Minnesota United FC at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

It was likely going to be the same starting XI for Atlanta United heading into a crucial match at the Philadelphia Union this evening. However, an injury to Ezequiel Barco - a knock he picked up during the Open Cup final against Minnesota United - means that he won’t play in Chester. It’s tough news for the team as Barco had been hoping to recapure his form after a previous long layoff due to injury and time spent with Argentina during the U-20 World Cup, but the hope is that it’s nothing serious and that he’s ready to roll come mid-September after the international break. As a note: he has been called in to La Albiceleste’s U-23 squad, who have a match on Wednesday; we might see the front office suggest (maybe not so subtlely) that he sit this round out.

Atlanta United’s Projected Starting XI at the Philadelphia Union (3-5-2)

Forwards: Josef Martinez - Tito Villalba

The absence of Ezequiel Barco means that we should see Villalba playing up front with Josef. Villalba could be considered more of a full striker than Pity Martinez in this case, too, dating back to when he’s filled in there (specifically during 2017). There’s a possibility that Villalba drops back at times in this formation, though, allowing Pity to play more forward.

Midfielders: Justin Meram - Pity Martinez - Eric Remedi - Darlington Nagbe - Julian Gressel

Pity should be looked upon to take up Barco’s usual spot here, pushing Villalba further upfield. Another option would to keep a Josef-Pity pairing up top and potentially start Dion Pereira or Emerson Hyndman in Barco’s place, but I thik the game is simply too important for Frank de Boer to put out anything other than his best XI.

Defense: Franco Escobar - Leandro Gonzalez Pirez - Miles Robinson

LGP’s sending off on Tuesday during the Open Cup final doesn’t affect his status for today.

As always, let me know your thoughts down in the comments.