Frank de Boer - Atlanta United - introductory press conference
Imagn

With CCL games looming, did MLS sides opt for squad rotation or continuity?

For the four MLS clubs still alive heading into the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals, MLS opening weekend presented head coaches with a conundrum: Rotate their starting lineups and risk dropping points to start their MLS campaigns, or go full-strength and risk fatigue or injury in their CCL matches?

It's a dilemma, but a good one to have as the New York Red Bulls, Houston Dynamo, Atlanta United and Sporting Kansas City chase continental glory.

Here's the approach each MLS side took. 

New York Red Bulls

The Red Bulls, as they did in 2018, fully embraced the strength of their squad in a 1-1 draw in Columbus, making eight changes to their first MLS starting XI from the team that beat Atletico Pantoja. One of the three holdovers – Michael Murillo – is suspended for the club's first-leg fixture against Santos Laguna on Tuesday (8 pm ET | Univision Deportes, YahooSports.com). 

Luis Robles retained his place in goal while Aaron Long only played the first half, leaving the second 45 for Tim Parker.

Houston Dynamo

Unlike the others, Houston changed their team between CCL legs in the Round of 16. For MLS play this weekend, the Dynamo went with their first team in a 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake. They host Liga MX giants Tigres on Tuesday (10 pm ET | Univision Deportes, YahooSports.com).

Key defensive midfielder Juan David Cabezas didn't make this squad, a concerning sign for Dynamo supporters. Mauro Manotas scored again, though. 

Atlanta United

Despite head coach Frank de Boer proclaiming his intention to make use of the whole squad in 2019, Atlanta United made just two changes from Thursday's team that defeated Herediano 4-0. 

Pity Martinez and Julian Gressel started on the bench, though both entered in the 59th minute, while the likes of Josef Martinez, Eric Remedi and others played the full 90 minutes in their 2-0 loss to D.C. United. The Five Stripes visit mighty Monterrey on Wednesday (10 pm ET | Univision Deportes, YahooSports.com).

Sporting Kansas City

Zero changes from the SKC side that steamrolled Toluca over two legs, despite a game against CAI Independiente looming Wednesday. 

The decision didn't earn Kansas City an opening-day win, as they fell in stoppage time to LAFC 2-1 just days after returning from Mexico. Sporting travel directly from Los Angeles to Panama for their CCL first-leg duel with CAI (8 pm ET | Univision Deportes, YahooSports.com)


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