Predicting Atlanta United’s 11 vs. Montreal

Who will start for Atlanta United (13-8-7) in Sunday’s game against Montreal at Mercedes-Benz Stadium?

I think it will be a strong lineup because that’s what manager Gerardo Martino will keep playing until the team clinches a playoff spot. They are two wins – six points – from doing that. They would become the first expansion team since Seattle in 2009 to reach the postseason.

With that in mind:

The goalkeeper will be Brad Guzan.

The fullbacks be Anton Walkes, who continues to grow into his new position, and Chris McCann, who will make his third consecutive start in place of the injured Greg Garza. If you remember the team’s first meeting with Montreal, a 2-1 loss, Mark Bloom started at right back in place of Ty Mears, who was a late scratch, and had to try to control Ignacio Piatti. Bloom did well, especially considering he learned he was going to start in the minutes before the start of the game. Walkes will have that task Sunday.

The centerhalves will be Michael Parkhurst and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, who are becoming quite an effective tandem. The team has eight shutouts this season, including three in their past four games. There were circumstances (red cards) that helped in two of those games, but a shutout is a shutout.

The holding midfielders will be Carlos Carmona and Jeff Larentowicz, who have also formed a rock-solid partnership.

The attacking midfielder will be Miguel Almiron, who leads the team with 13 assists.

The wide midfielders will be Hector Villalba (11 goals, 9 assists) and Yamil Asad (6 goals, 12 assists).

The striker will be Josef Martinez, who has 17 goals this season, including eight in the past four games.