Atlanta United defender Franco Escobar and fans celebrate his goal for a 2-0 lead over the New York Red Bulls during the second half in their Eastern Conference finals MLS soccer game on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/
Photo: Compton
Photo: Compton

Atlanta United’s Escobar cleared for contact

Atlanta United defender Franco Escobar has been cleared to fully participate in Atlanta United’s training sessions. He recently returned to training but hadn’t been cleared for contact.

Escobar, 24, suffered a shoulder injury on the first day of training camp on Jan. 15. He has yet to play this season. Atlanta United will next play at Columbus on March 30.

Escobar is a speedy, versatile defender who can play centerback, fullback or wingback on the right side of a formation. He made 20 starts as part of 22 appearances last season, his first with Atlanta United. He scored three goals, including two in the playoffs, to help Atlanta United win the MLS Cup.

Julian Gressel and Mikey Ambrose have played right wingback in Escobar’s place this season.

Escobar’s absence this season is part of the reason manager Frank de Boer said the team went to a 3-4-3 formation.

Escobar’s return could mean that the team will use either a 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 formation, which it used most of the past two seasons. It used versions of both in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Philadelphia.

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