I’ll have much more preview material in the coming days, but here’s a potential Atlanta United v. Nashville SC lineup comparison for Saturday:
My Atlanta United takes (including the 4-3-3 formation and the deployment of the players within it) are largely based on my chat with Dirty South Soccer’s Haris Kruskic the other day. NSC takes based on personal observation as well as a little sleuthing.
What’s the primary surprise (and basically the only thing that’s different from the lineups put out by every other site so far)? I have Tucker Hume in the starting lineup. There are a couple reasons for that – not least of which that I expect the Boys in Gold to substitute liberally – but one of them is from the perspective of strictly viewing this game as an exhibition and preparation for the regular season.
NSC is going to push the wingbacks high up the field to lump crosses into the box, and Hume is your target forward. Against a high level of competition, they’re going to want to see how viable an offensive strategy this is going to be. If it doesn’t work, look for much more of Robin Shroot early in the regular season. For now, they want to know what they’re going to get out of Hume (Shroot is more a known quantity as a goal-getter). A little tinkering – and in a game where there was already going to be basically as much turnover through substitution during the course as is possible – and you get a better idea of what your pieces are.
I do expect Atlanta to high-press a bit, but only a bit. Similarly, they’re going to want to see if they can pull if off (especially with a defensive non-factor like Darlington Nagbe in the lineup) during MLS season. However, Nashville SC isn’t the same caliber of competition as the average top-flight team, so while a high press could give them plenty of offensive-third turnovers and opportunities, they don’t want to go to that well too often when it’s only going to be a part-time deal in the regular season.
Atlanta’s attacking talent is exciting, and all the new additions are going to be another story of this game. If NSC’s defense can stand up just a bit to the Barcos and Nagbes of the world, they’re going to be able to handle many of the best players the USL can throw at them.