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Predicting Atlanta United’s starting XI vs. Chattanooga FC

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Atlanta United, still the holders of the U.S. Open Cup, begin their journey to defend the trophy tonight when the club welcomes Chattanooga FC to Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw tonight.

Lineup predictions for a game like this is truly a fool’s errand, so, hello, my name is Joe reporting for duty.

Notes:

  • When you look at the roster, If Pineda doesn’t play with two strikers, then it seems likely to me that one of Thiago Almada, Marcelino Moreno or Luiz Araujo would need to start. It’s hard for me to see Pineda wanting to put Araujo in that situation given his injury situation, and both Moreno and Alamad have been playing a lot and will obviously be needed firing on all cylinders this weekend in league play vs. Miami. So I’m going a little bold here in predicting more of a 4-4-2 shape with both Dom Dwyer and Jackson Conway in the selection.
  • While Mikey Ambrose is surely in contention to make the team — which could in turn push Wiley up into the LW role he’s excelled in MLS — Ambrose also played 90 minutes on Saturday on the road with Atlanta United 2 which perhaps isn’t ideal. At the left back position — a role that will be doing more attacking than anything else against an overmatched opponent — Caleb Wiley seems to make more sense.
  • It’s truly an open question who Pineda will select at the back. I tend to think AlexDe John will get a run out, and Alan Franco didn’t feature Saturday with a sore ankle (though he was a full participant in training on Monday).
  • In midfield, Ibarra may have been held out of Saturday’s match with the foresight that he’d feature in his first start of the season in this match. Next to him, I actually didn’t want to pick Hyndman because I think in general we should be cautious about how heavily he’ll be used during this re-integration period. But he would’ve expended minimal energy in the game against Cincy (he played 10 minutes), while others in contention for this role have played heavy minutes and could use a breather (specifically thinking of Sejdic). Hyndman would obviously be earmarked as a player who would need a sub at either halftime or 60 minutes.
  • With the wingers, I would not be at all surprised to see them flipped and playing on their “natural” sides (the sides of their stronger feet), particularly if the team is playing with two forwards. Chattanooga will sit deep and try to clog up the middle as best they can, so there may be more room to operate if they play wider as more natural wingers.
  • I predict this post will look very silly when lineups are released around 6:30 p.m. So join in and be wrong with me. Who is in your XI?



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Loons vs. NYCFC preview: Rematch at long last

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7 p.m. vs. New York City FC · BSN, 1500-AM

Preview: These two teams meet for the first time since April 2019, when the Loons opened new $250 million Allianz Field. Ozzie Alonso scored the stadium’s first goal in a 3-3 draw. This will be only the fourth time they have played competitively and the second at Allianz; each team is 1-1-1. … Wednesday’s 2-1 U.S. Open Cup loss to third-division Union Omaha knocked the Loons out of the all-comers tournament in the round of 16. Their last MLS game was Sunday’s 2-1 victory at FC Dallas. … NYCFC’s Open Cup victory over New England makes them 10 games undefeated in all competitions. Its last loss was in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal against Seattle. Its last league loss was against Toronto in early April. … The Loons will play without yellow card-suspended Kervin Arriaga and Michael Boxall.

Injuries: The Loons’ Hassani Dotson and Patrick Weah are out for the season; goalkeeper Tyler Miller (abdominal) and defender Romain Metanire (thigh) are out, too. Leading scorer Robin Lod (thigh) is listed as questionable, as are midfielder Wil Trapp (ribs) and strikers Luis Amarilla (foot) and Abu Danladi (thigh). NYCFC lists Anton Tinnerholm (Achilles tendon) and Kevin O’Toole (head) as out and Chris Gloster, Tayvon Gray, Maxi Moralez and Malte Amundsen as questionable, all because of “lower body” injuries.



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Alex Roldán turned down call-up to El Salvador

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Alex Roldán was conspicuously left off El Salvador’s roster for some upcoming Concacaf Nations League matches. On Friday, El Salvador coach Hugo Perez explained why.

“To close this chapter I want to say that Roldán is not coming because he is not happy with what happened before the game against Canada,” he said in Spanish. “He prefers to take some more time to digest that. But that is the reason, there is no other. Those are things that don’t have to happen, but they did. But we can’t do anything anymore, we have to turn the page and move on.”

The incident in question happened in February, when the El Salvador players released a statement saying that they intended not to play a World Cup qualifier due to a dispute over bonuses. Although they eventually relented, some hard feelings apparently persisted.

The 2-0 loss to Canada effectively eliminated El Salvador from World Cup contention and Roldán was not part of the team during the final qualifying window, nor a friendly in April.

Although Roldán only made his El Salvador debut during last summer’s Gold Cup, he’s already made 15 appearances and established himself as a team captain.

In a Twitter post, Roldán didn’t offer a ton of elaboration but did say that he “didn’t want to come back with bad thoughts and ruin relationships” and left the door open for a return in the future.

El Salvador’s loss is the Sounders’ gain, however, as Roldán will now be available for the team’s June 14 match against the Vancouver Whitecaps.





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João Paulo undergoes ‘successful’ ACL surgery

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João Paulo underwent “successful” ACL surgery on Wednesday, the Seattle Sounders announced. The surgery was performed by Dr. Bert Mandelbaum in Santa Monica, Calif., the same doctor who did both of Jordan Morris’ ACL procedures. The injury occurred during the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League final on May 4.

Generally speaking, the recovery timeline for ACL surgeries is 6-9 months, which means the earliest João Paulo could return is sometime early next year, most likely in February or March. If the Club World Cup takes place in 2023, the thinking seems to be that it would likely happen in mid-February. The MLS regular season usually starts in late February or early March.

It took Morris about eight months to return from his most recent ACL surgery, but he was about five years younger than João Paulo is now. Jordy Delem needed almost a full year to recover from his ACL injury.



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