Atlanta United manager Frank de Boer said Thursday there’s a possibility that for the first time this season he will select a starting lineup for Saturday’s game against Colorado that features the team’s three Designated Players, as well as Hector Villalba and Darlington Nagbe.
However, after listening to him describe what goes into his selection for starters and the bench, it doesn’t seem probable that an offensive-minded group will dominate the 11. Atlanta United is 1-3-2 in MLS. It will host Colorado on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Scoring has been an issue for the Five Stripes this season. Atlanta United has scored the fewest goals (5) in the league one season after scoring the most (70).
“I always say if you have the ball for two minutes, what do you with the other 93 minutes?” he said. “It’s not only when you have the ball, it’s making unselfish runs. It’s tracking back 30, 40 yards. Those ingredients have influence on the result. I have to create that balance.
“The attacking is fantastic, but a lot of times we will lose the ball. ... Iceland were a very good organized team. Do they have better players than Holland? No. But you can see what a disciplined team can do. It’s very difficult to beat those teams.”
Because of injuries and decisions made after scouting opponents to try to secure the best result, de Boer has yet to start Josef Martinez, Pity Martinez, Ezequiel Barco, Villalba and Nagbe in the same lineup this season in the 10 games played. Josef Martinez, Pity Martinez and Barco are the Designated Players. Barco leads the team with three goals.
Pity Martinez, the reigning South American Player of the Year, has started only two of the six games. He suffered a hamstring injury while with the Argentine national team. Martinez has come off the bench in the past two games, but de Boer said he appears to be approaching 100 percent.
Martinez isn’t the only player regaining health.
Defensive midfielder Eric Remedi re-joined the first team after missing last week’s 2-1 loss to Dallas because of a concussion sustained at New England.
Fullback George Bello also re-joined the first team for training for the first time in several weeks. He suffered a groin injury in the first game at Herediano in February. Bello went through full contact drills for the first time Thursday.
The only players absent from training this week because of injuries were midfielder Kevin Kratz and striker/midfielder Brandon Vazquez.
“We are coming into a situation where I have to make difficult decisions,” de Boer said. “I have no problems with that. Want the best for a team and the best for Atlanta United and the most successful way to play against this opponent. Everyone is fighting for a spot right now. There is pressure on everybody.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.