2. Leandro Gonzalez-Pirez
The stars will be out on Saturday night. So will some of the more under-appreciated players. Leandro Gonzalez-Pirez falls into the latter category. Although he is recognized around the league for his strong defensive play, he is still an overlooked player.
Except for Parkhurst, Gonzalez-Pirez is the team’s most important player on defense. This year’s playoffs have proven that. So far in the playoffs, Gonzalez-Pirez has registered 11 tackles, 13 interceptions, and an astonishing 29 clearances with 15 of those clearances coming in the last match against Red Bulls.
Gonzalez-Pirez will need another strong performance against Portland. Because of Portland’s dangerous counterattack, Atlanta will need its defenders to be ready at any moment to shut down and stop those counters. Gonzalez-Pirez will be at the center of everything, helping Parkhurst organize the rest of the defense and making the strong individual plays he’s made all playoffs.
Hopefully, LGP will have some amazing stops and help the defense keep up its solid play, especially against Portland’s talented players.