While Major League Soccer does not completely shut down for FIFA’s international windows like other leagues, Atlanta United will be off from league play this weekend. Four members of the Five Stripes will be on duty for their national teams over the next week, so Tata Martino is likely happy that he has the upcoming weekend off. Let’s take a look at the players who will be away and what the break means for the club:
Josef Martinez: J-Mart is on a scoring tear in MLS, with five goals in his last two games. Venezuela’s national team manager Rafael Dudamel hopes that his form can continue in the jersey of La Vinotinto. Martinez will likely start against Peru and Chile as Venezuela tries to salvage a poor World Cup qualifying campaign.
Miguel Almiron: Miguelito has been equally impressive for the Five Stripes this season. He is not an automatic starter for Paraguay’s national team, but will be in the mix for playing time as La Albirroja tries to get closer to a World Cup berth. Paraguay is currently four points out of the playoff spot and needs to make up ground in these two games against Ecuador and Brazil.
Carlos Carmona: After a red card late in the opener and missing the Minnesota game due to suspension, Carmona returned to the lineup Saturday against Chicago. He will be part of Chile’s squad in its upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Argentina and Venezuela. Carmona played his first games for Chile in two years in January in the China Cup and his experience will be useful for La Roja. Chile currently sits in the final automatic qualification spot and will have to battle to hold onto it.
Kenwyne Jones: With Josef Martinez in such fine form, playing time for Jones has been a challenge. The 32-year-old has made two late substitute appearances this season. He will be returning to the Trinidad and Tobago national team for its upcoming matches with Panama and Mexico. New coach Dennis Lawrence needs to get the Soca Warriors started quickly as they are in fifth place out of six teams in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying.
International Matches involving Atlanta United players:
Thursday, March 23:
Paraguay vs. Ecuador, 7 p.m.
Argentina vs. Chile, 7:30 p.m.
Venezuela vs. Peru, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 24:
Trinidad and Tobago vs. Panama, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, March 28:
Trinidad and Tobago vs. Mexico, 7 p.m.
Chile vs. Venezuela, 8 p.m.
Brazil vs. Paraguay, 8:45 p.m.