Predicting Atlanta United’s 11 vs. LD Alajuelense

082220 Atlanta: Atlanta United players huddle up as they take the field to play Nashville SC in a MLS soccer match on Saturday, August 22, 2020 in Atlanta.    Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com
082220 Atlanta: Atlanta United players huddle up as they take the field to play Nashville SC in a MLS soccer match on Saturday, August 22, 2020 in Atlanta. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Atlanta United will open its 2021 campaign with its Champions League opener at LD Alajuelense in Costa Rica Tuesday. The game is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. and will be broadcast by FS1.

The second leg of the series is scheduled to be played on April 13 at Kennesaw State Stadium.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Doug Roberson (@DougRobersonAJC) predicts Atlanta United’s starting lineup that he thinks manager Gabriel Heinze will select for Tuesday’s game.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

Right fullback Brooks Lennon. I think Lennon gets the nod over Ronald Hernandez. Lennon looked consistently sharp in the training sessions and friendlies that we were allowed to watch. Hernandez looked really good against Charleston and then I thought he struggled at Birmingham. It’s been a long time since Hernandez played consistently so being inconsistent is understandable.

Centerback Miles Robinson.

Centerback Anton Walkes. I think Walkes gets the nod over George Campbell, who played alongside Robinson against Charleston and Birmingham, because the two played together before eight times last season.

Left fullback George Bello.

Defensive midfielder Santiago Sosa. I think he will make his debut. I also think that Atlanta United’s offense looked much better when he was on the field against Charleston and Birmingham.

Central midfielder Emerson Hyndman.

Attacking midfielder Ezequiel Barco. His big year begins with what needs to be a solid performance tonight.

Right wing Jurgen Damm.

Left wing Jake Mulraney. Marcelino Moreno was given a red card against Club America in the second leg of last season’s competition and is ineligible to play in this game. I think Mulraney looked very dangerous during the preseason, particularly with his crosses. If you are wondering why Mulraney instead of Machop Chol or Erik Lopez it’s because Mulraney has a lot of experience compared to those two. I think starting either in a knockout round game in Costa Rica is too much to ask.

Heinze could move Barco to the wing and start Franco Ibarra as the central midfielder and push Hyndman into the attacking role but it doesn’t make sense to me to make too many changes.

Striker Lisandro Lopez. Yes, Josef Martinez is healthy but Damm told us last week that the playing surface of Alajuelense’s stadium is very hard. I don’t think that’s a surface that will be good for Martinez’s surgically repaired knee. Therefore, I think Lopez will get the start.

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