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Predicting Atlanta United’s starting XI against Columbus Crew SC

Back to soccer in the ATL for the home stretch.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Philadelphia Union Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

After two weeks without Atlanta United soccer, it’s back to the field for the Five Stripes, who begin a critical final stage of the season against the Columbus Crew at the Benz on Saturday. With six matches to go and Atlanta 6 points behind NYCFC for first place in the East (with a game in hand), it may need to realistically run the table to gain home field advantages all the way through to the conference finals. Tough, especially with a road match against NYC on September 25 looming, but with 4 home matches, not impossible.

Atlanta United’s Projected Starting XI against Columbus Crew SC (3-5-2)

Forwards: Josef Martinez - Pity Martinez

No change here.

Midfield: Emerson Hyndman - Eric Remedi - Darlington Nagbe

I think Hyndman gets the call here in place of an injured Ezequiel Barco over, say, Tito Villalba because he’s more of a tactical fit for de Boer’s system. He doesn’t provide the touch and play-making ability that Barco has, but he’s taken his chances for the most part when they’ve been given to him. I’d look for Villalba as a super-sub in the latter stages if the match is still in the balance.

Outside backs: Justin Meram - Julian Gressel

Meram was with the Iraqi national team and played all 90 minutes as it drew Bahrain 1-1 in an AFC World Cup Qualifier last Thursday. As for Gressel, that two weeks off should have done him a world of good.

Defenders: Florentin Pogba - Miles Robinson - Franco Escobar

Robinson was with the USMNT over the break and won his first two senior team caps as a substitute against Mexico and Uruguay. He should be good to go. LGP’s out due to yellow card accumulation.

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan

Yep. Mr. Clean Sheet was always the choice here whether or not he played the full 90 in net with the USMNT against Uruguay on Tuesday.

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