How might Atlanta United line up in its next few games?

Atlanta United midfielder Ezequiel Barco celebrates his goal with Anton Walkes against Cincinnati Saturday, March 8, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.  Barco paid tribute to injured striker Josef Martinez, holding up seven fingers to signify Martinez's No. 7 jersey.
Atlanta United midfielder Ezequiel Barco celebrates his goal with Anton Walkes against Cincinnati Saturday, March 8, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Barco paid tribute to injured striker Josef Martinez, holding up seven fingers to signify Martinez's No. 7 jersey.

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Let’s assume that Ezequiel Barco and Marcelino Moreno are available to play in each of Atlanta United’s next four games, starting Saturday with D.C. United.

How will interim manager Stephen Glass incorporate the two Designated Players into the starting lineup without disrupting chemistry and having to re-invent tactics?

Now, you might say the team has put just one shot on goal in each of the past three games and has been shut out in three of the past four, what does he have to lose?

Plus, you continue, the team is 11th in the Eastern Conference and is one spot below the playoff line. With Nashville’s victory over Dallas last night, it seems probable that there are now five teams battling for two playoffs spot. Atlanta United is among that group of five.

To which I say: Yes.

So, how does Glass do it?

How does he put together a line up that can spark the offense?

First, let’s recap the team’s stat leaders (noted by FBref.com) on offense through its 19 games:

Goals

3: Jon Gallagher.

2: Brooks Lennon, Emerson Hyndman, Adam Jahn, Jeff Larentowicz, Barco.

Expected goals per 90 minutes

0.51: Erick Torres

0.39: Barco

0.26 Manuel Castro

0.19: Gallagher

0.14: Jahn

Assists

2: Lennon, Barco, Damm.

1: Hyndman, Jahn, George Bello, Eric Remedi, Jake Mulraney, Franco Escobar, Mo Adams.

Expected assists per 90 minutes

0.26: Damm

0.18: Lennon

0.11: Gallagher

0.10: Hyndman

0.07: Castro

Shot creation attempts per 90 minutes

3.93: Barco

3.02: Damm

2.31: Gallagher

2.18: Hyndman

2.06: Castro

Some of that information be slightly surprising, particularly Castro because he hasn’t impressed in his appearances.

So, let’s say Glass wanted to go all out for a win, who would be in the starting lineup based upon the statistical leaders?

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan

Centerbacks: Miles Robinson and Anton Walkes or Fernando Meza

Right fullback: Lennon

Left fullback: Bello

Defensive midfielder: Larentowicz

Central midfielder: Hyndman

Left midfielder: Gallagher

Right midfielder: Damm

Attacking midfielder/striker: Barco

Striker: Torres

Now, you will notice one gigantic omission in this starting lineup: Moreno.

That was on purpose, but let me explain. First, for the sake of this exercise, that lineup is based purely on the stats noted. Second, Glass can’t roll out a formation that is purely offensive-minded. He needs to keep some offense in reserve in case it is needed. It could be argued that Moreno could be that offense. It could also be argued that he just hasn’t had enough time to work with his teammates. And he likely won’t for the rest of the season because the schedule remains full. So, bringing him off the bench could make the best use of his speed while masking his lack of familiarity and chemistry with his teammates.

But, again, I don’t think that is what is going to happen. There’s too much at stake to leave who may be the team’s best healthy player out of the starting lineup.

How do I think the team will lineup on Saturday, for example?

Goalkeeper: Guzan

Centerbacks: Robinson and Walkes

Right fullback: Escobar

Left fullback: Bello

Defensive midfielder: Larentowicz

Right midfielder: Lennon

Central midfielder: Hyndman

Central midfielder: Moreno

Left midfielder: Barco

Striker: Torres

Atlanta United coming games

Saturday vs. D.C. United (2-5-5), 4 p.m., FSSE

Oct. 28 at Orlando (6-2-4), 7:30 p.m., FS1

Nov. 1 vs. Cincinnati (3-6-3), 7 p.m., FSSE

Nov. 8 at Columbus (8-1-3), 3:30 p.m., FSSE

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