Feb. 28, 2019 Kennesaw: Atlanta United midfielder Darlington Nagbe works against C.S. Herediano in their Concacaf Champions League soccer match on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Kennesaw. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Predicting Atlanta United’s 11 vs. Dallas

Who will start for Atlanta United in Saturday’s game against Dallas at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and in what formation will those players be aligned?

It would seem logical to expect the team to come out in the same 4-4-1-1 that it used to defeat New England 2-0 last week for its first MLS win this season.

It would seem logical to expect manager Frank de Boer to use the same group of players that built that 2-0 lead.

I think that’s close to what you will see, with a couple of changes because of injury and the quality of the opponent.

Dallas is a team that likes to counterattack and typically does so quickly. That, combined with the fact that Hector Villalba said on Wednesday that the wingers have more defensive responsibilities in the 4-4-1-1 than in the 4-3-3, makes me think that speed and defensive awareness will be premiums for each of the starters.

So, here we go:

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan

Right fullback Franco Escobar. Michael Parkhurst was in this spot last week. Though he is a better defender than Escobar, he isn’t nearly as fast. Because Dallas likes to counter, I think Escobar may get the nod because of his ability to recover.

Centerback Miles Robinson. He’s not going to come out of the lineup.

Centerback Leandro Gonzalez Pirez. After a shaky start to the season, he has looked much better.

Left fullback Brek Shea. He had his best game as a defender last week against New England. This will be a much harder test on Saturday. It also appears that George Bello still isn’t ready for minutes.

Defensive midfielder Jeff Larentowicz. He started in this position last week.

Defensive midfielder Darlington Nagbe. He moved back into this spot last week after Eric Remedi sustained a concussion. 

Wide midfielder Julian Gressel. He’s not going to come out of the lineup.

Wide midfielder Hector Villalba. While not a great defender, he’s much better than Pity Martinez as a defender. Plus, his speed gives Dallas something to think about.

Attacking midfielder Ezequiel Barco. He came off the bench in place of Remedi and slid into this role. He scored two goals and looked very lively.

Striker Josef Martinez. He’s not going to come out of the lineup.

Tell me if you like the formation and the personnel.

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