Atlanta United likely missing two key players for U.S. Open Cup

Julian Gressel should return to Atlanta United’s lineup by return to MLS play.

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Julian Gressel should return to Atlanta United’s lineup by return to MLS play.

Atlanta United will likely be without two key players for Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup game at Columbus.

Manager Frank de Boer said Monday that midfielder Julian Gressel will be held out but that his return “looks really good” for the next league game June 26 at Toronto. Gressel, 25, has two goals and three assists in 15 appearances in league games this season.

Hector Villalba didn't train Monday, making it unlikely that he will play Tuesday. He is recovering from a ligament injury in his knee. Villalba, 24, has one goal and three assists in league games this season.

Midfielder Ezequiel Barco did train with the team on Monday. He recently returned from competing with the Argentina national team at the U20 World Cup in Poland. Barco hasn't played for Atlanta United since May 5. He has four goals and one assist in eight appearances in the league this season.

None of those players competed in Atlanta United’s 3-1 win against Charleston last week in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup.

Additionally, midfielder Kevin Kratz suffered a setback in his return from a calf injury. Kratz has one appearance this season.

“He has to start all over again,” de Boer told reporters. “It’s not looking good.”

De Boer said the starting lineup for Tuesday’s game will be a mix of regulars and reserves. The midfield in the game against Charleston was composed of Andrew Carleton, Pity Martinez and Dion Pereira.

Striker Romario Williams, who scored a goal and later appeared to sustain a groin injury in the win against Charleston, did train Monday.

Columbus will be without several key players, including striker Gyasi Zardes, midfielder Wil Trapp and goalkeeper Zack Steffen, who are with the U.S. national team competing in the Gold Cup.

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