The start of this offseason for Atlanta United has been a very exciting time so far, especially for all the die-hard fans that follow every move made by the club. It’s been a whirlwind of new signings, re-signings, and loads of transfer rumors. The best part of all of this…. it doesn’t seem to be over.
They have already re-signed players such as, Greg Garza and Jeff Larentowicz. Atlanta has also made their fair share of acquisitions to the squad with U.S international midfielder Darlington Nagbe and Argentinian versatile defender Franco Escobar. The rumors have not stopped after these two players were secured. The fan base have been desperate for the club to acquire highly rated Argentinian playmaker Ezequiel Barco or even bring back Yamil Asad, a key part of last years squad. We will just have to wait and see what happens with Barco and Asad; as Barco is also supposedly being looked at by top clubs in Europe, and Asad’s situation is very much up in the air.
Now that the dust has settled on the signings that ATL has made, let’s take a look into the future at what the starting lineup could look like as we stand now. In the words of Haris Kruskic…. I’m probably wrong:
The usual formation for Tata Martino last season was a 4-3-3. If they are to keep this formation here is how the pieces could fall into place with the current roster as is.
No surprises with Brad Guzan in goal; he will be keen to pick up where he left off last season, sometimes acting as a brick wall behind the ATL back line. Three of the four members of the predicted backline are returners; hopefully the chemistry built up between them last year will rub off on new boy Franco Escobar and he will have a seamless transition into the squad.
In midfield, it looks as if Carlos Carmona will move into the defensive midfield role, which was held by Jeff Larentowicz last year. Jeff will be a more than capable back up in this role and depending on the situation possibly even a starter. The rest of the midfield will be rounded out by new signing Darlington Nagbe and Miguel Almiron. During his time in Portland, although he is very versatile, Nagbe mainly played in a wide midfield role. However it has been said by Darren Eales that he was brought to Atlanta to play in central midfield as more of a box to box player. His comfort on the ball and ability to retain possession will be crucial.
Almiron, Villalba and Martinez will look to build on their first season together and wreak even more havoc on MLS defenses. Right now I have Julian Gressel in the second winger position in the starting lineup; but that is subject to change if the signing of Barco or Asad is completed. Either way Gressel will be an important player for the club this year since he is able to play many different positions.
If Tata is looking to shake things up a bit he could also line the team up in a 3-4-3. They did line up with three at the back a few times last season so this could be a viable option.
This shows just how versatile some of the players in this squad really are. Specifically Franco Escobar and Julian Gressel. In this formation Escobar would be pushed to a third center back and Gressel would be a wing back. During his years at Newell Old Boys, Escobar played both center back and right back, and Gressel showed us last year that he is capable of getting up and down the pitch like a proper wing back should. This could also make the game a little bit easier on Miggy. Pushing him further up the pitch would give him fewer defensive duties, allowing him to use more energy breaking down defenses.