October 24, 2019 Atlanta: Atlanta United midfielder Ezequiel Barco works against Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference semifinals of the MLS playoffs on Thursday, October 24, 2019, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

If Atlanta United were to play tomorrow ...

If Atlanta United were to play tomorrow this is the starting 11 I think that manager Frank de Boer would use, based upon the players currently signed and fit:

4-3-3 Formation

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan
Right fullback Franco Escobar
Centerback Miles Robinson
Centerback Fernando Meza
Left fullback George Bello
Defensive midfielder Eric Remedi
Central midfielder Emerson Hyndman
Central midfielder Pity Martinez
Right forward Julian Gressel
Left forward Ezequiel Barco
Striker Josef Martinez

There should be few surprises here. The biggest may be Hyndman in the role played by Darlington Nagbe the past two season. The team obviously likes Hyndman or it wouldn’t have purchased him from Bournemouth. He shouldn’t be expected to do the job exactly as Nagbe did it. A month of training camp should help prepare him before the first game at Motagua. Plus, right now the team doesn’t have another central midfielder who could handle the role. I suppose Barco could try. He’s great in tight spaces with the ball and at drawing fouls, but his anticipation on defense isn’t as good as Nagbe’s or Hyndman’s.

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3-5-2 Formation

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan
Centerback  Franco Escobar
Centerback Miles Robinson
Centerback Fernando Meza
Right wingback Julian Gressel
Left wingback George Bello
Defensive midfielder Eric Remedi
Central midfielder Emerson Hyndman
Central midfielder Ezequiel Barco
Striker Pity Martinez
Striker Josef Martinez

Again, no surprises here other than possibly Bello being selected ahead of Edgar Castillo, a veteran. I think Bello will be given every chance to win and keep the job. It wouldn’t surprise me if Castillo starts the Champions League games in Honduras and, should the team win, at Club America, with Bello starting the home matches. Castillo has experienced that pressure. He used to play for Los Aguilas, after all. 

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New faces 4-3-3 Formation

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan
Right fullback Brooks Lennon
Centerback Miles Robinson
Centerback Fernando Meza
Left fullback Edgar Castillo
Defensive midfielder Eric Remedi
Central midfielder Emerson Hyndman
Central midfielder Pity Martinez
Right forward Julian Gressel
Left forward Ezequiel Barco
Striker Josef Martinez

There really aren’t too many new faces in this formation because there aren’t too many new faces on the front end of the formation. A quick review of the new signings: Anton Walkes, a centerback or right back. Meza, a centerback, right back or defensive midfielder. Castillo, a fullback or wingback. Lennon, a fullback or wingback. Patrick Nielsen, a draft pick and centerback, hasn’t yet signed.

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New faces 3-5-2 Formation

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan
Centerback  Anton Walkes
Centerback Fernando Meza
Centerback George Campbell
Right wingback Brooks Lennon
Left wingback Edgar Castillo
Defensive midfielder Eric Remedi
Central midfielder Emerson Hyndman
Central midfielder Ezequiel Barco
Striker Pity Martinez
Striker Josef Martinez

You won’t see this formation because there are way too many new faces. 

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Questions I have

Here are a few questions I have after the first week of training camp, in no particular order:

Andrew Carleton is supposed to go on loan to a team to be determined. Jeff Reuter reported that team would be Indianapolis. A week later, the loan hasn’t been announced. Why?

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Carlos Bocanegra said that the team would announce a few new players by the end of last week. One, Castillo was announced. The central midfielder that de Boer said he wants has yet to be announced. There have been rumors of interest but nothing concrete. When is that player arriving and who will it be?

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Will Nielsen sign with Atlanta United or Atlanta United 2? My bet is the latter because he needs playing time.

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Who will be the back-up striker? It seems likely to be Hector Villalba and Adam Jahn, who has been working out with the team but has yet to sign, or if he has the team has yet to announce.

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How many more signings are expected? The team has 25 players on its roster when counting Carleton, Nielsen and Jon Gallagher, who is on loan with Aberdeen in Scotland’s Premiership for the remainder of its season.  The team has a 30-man active roster but can loan two players out for the season that don’t count against the roster. It appears that Carleton will take up one of those slots, assuming the loan goes through. I think that it makes it more likely that Nielson will sign with Atlanta United 2, which will free another roster spot. Gallagher’s future remains murky but I think likely ends up with him being sold to Aberdeen, which frees another roster spot.

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Will Gressel finish camp as an Atlanta United player? He wants a new contract. The team hasn’t been crystal clear in its desire to sign him to a new contract. There have been implications from Darren Eales and Bocanegra that the team will try to put something together once the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed and they know who much they can spend. It is assumed that Gressel will sign. I suppose it depends upon what is being offered. If Gressel won’t sign, it seems likely the team would have to trade Gressel if it wants to get something of value in return for him because he is in the last year of his contract.

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About the Author

Doug Roberson
Doug Roberson
Doug Roberson covers the Atlanta United and Major League Soccer.
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