Updated: Jul 28
In MLS's continuing rebellion against normal match schedules, Atlanta faces New York at the Benz while both teams are missing key players to the international break. This means that both teams will be fielding many second-string players, with Atlanta even calling up Nic Firmino and Luke Brennan. Both players come from the 2s on short-term contracts with the first team and are yet to make first-team debuts other than AMFAM Cup appearances. Firmino has played well in the Atlanta United 2 midfield managing 8 goals and 3 assists in only 14 games this year. His best game came against Inter Miami II two and a half weeks ago when he scored a brace as well as getting an assist when playing in the 10 role. Luke Brennan will be best known for his performance in the prestigious AMFAM Cup when he managed a goal.
Looking to the visitors, the Cityzens have hit a poor run of form and haven't managed a win in their past ten games (6 losses and 4 draws). Their record against Atlanta is far better, though, as they haven't lost in their past 7 games. In addition, they will only be missing Maxime Chanot and James Sands on international break, as well as Thiago Martins through injury. Despite both Chanot and Sands being defenders, the main problem for NYCFC will be scoring as they have only scored more than one goal in one of their past ten games, a 3-2 loss to Charlotte.
If Atlanta tries to stay in their familiar 4-2-3-1 while missing 6 players there would have to be a number of replacements. The clearest replacement is Noah Cobb for Miles Robinson in the back-other than that the back line can stay the same. Then in the midfield, Pineda has two options: He could either push Rossetto up to a 10 role and put Sejdic alongside Rossetto or he could try Nic Firmino and keep Rossetto and Ibarra as a very familiar defensive midfielder pairing. In attack, Miguel Berry will replace Giakoumakis who is out on yellow card accumulation. The wingers are less clear, though, as Atlanta's left flank should be Gutman and Wiley, but on the right they could either push Lennon up and play Hernandez in right back or keep Lennon as a right back and play Tyler Wolff as our right winger. Because Pineda seems to like Wolff coming off the bench, I think he will go with Ronald Hernandez as right back and Brooks Lennon as our right winger.
NYCFC's formation is more questionable. They played a back three against Columbus but that both relied heavily on James Sands in the middle and NYCFC has also played a 4-4-2 before. That being said, I doubt Nick Cushing will want to mess with their formation too much and will stick with their 3-4-3 that they have been playing recently. This means that Tayvon Gray will be replacing James Sands, most likely. Other than that the formation will remain mostly the same except Gabriel Segal potentially earning a starting spot after scoring New York's lone goal last game.
The game will be a frustrating 1-1 draw in which Atlanta dominates possession but can't get through NYCFC's defense. Atlanta will score first in the second half with a Caleb Wiley goal. Then NYCFC will score a cheap goal when we turn off and lose focus.