After a terrific win against Orlando City, Atlanta United turns its attention to a Fourth of July showdown with FC Dallas. Chris McCann is available for the first time in over a month, but who gets the starting nod between him and Mikey Ambrose? Does Tata Martino stick with the same group of players as last Saturday? Let’s try and answer these questions.
Here is the definite, surefire lineup for July 4.*
*I’m probably wrong.
Formation: 4-3-3. Typically, a 3-5-2 has come in handy for Atlanta against defensive-minded teams like Dallas because it forces them to maintain more possession than usual and thus loosens their defensive shape, making them more vulnerable for the next few seconds once they eventually lose possession. However, Martino said during training this week that not having Darlington Nagbe as an option at the moment makes it more difficult to utilize a 3-5-2 because it takes Gressel out of the midfield. It’ll be interesting to see how that changes once Eric Remedi becomes available. Until then though, a 4-3-3 is almost certain to be the preferred shape.
Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan. Put extra sunscreen on that head of yours.
Left Back: Mikey Ambrose. The Texas native should get the start, as Martino typically prefers to allow players like McCann, who is coming off of a long-term injury, to get their feet wet with substitute appearances first before returning them to the starting lineup.
Center Back #1: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez.
Center Back #2: Michael Parkhurst.
Right Back: Franco Escobar.
Central Midfielder #1: Jeff Larentowicz.
Central Midfielder #2: Julian Gressel.
Attacking Midfielder: Miguel Almiron.
Left Winger: Ezequiel Barco. It’s fun seeing his understanding of Martino’s systems slowly translate onto the field.
Right Winger: Tito Villalba. According to Martino, Villalba was sick a day or two before the Orlando match and almost didn’t play. He’s probably happy he did.
Striker: Josef Martinez.
To recap, here’s my projected lineup against FC Dallas.