Atlanta United attacking midfielder and winger Ezequiel Barco has been called up for International duty with his native country of Argentina for this Summer’s U-20 World Cup in Poland which will take place from May 23rd when Group Stage matches begin and then all the way up until the Final on June 15th.
24 countries from 6 confederations will compete from a variety of 6 venues across the country of Poland and Ezequiel Barco’s Argentina qualified for this years tournament and look to conquer their way up to the top and accomplish their dreams of winning the tournament.
Argentina has been placed in Group F alongside the countries of Portugal, South Korea and South Africa.
Now, you might be thinking what does this have to do with Atlanta United and will it have an affect on the team in any way? Well, there is some good news and then there is some bad news. Let’s start off with the bad news, with Barco going away for International duty his last game with the team will be on Sunday vs SKC and then he will join the national team to begin preparation for the youth tournament, so that means he will not return until sometime around the end of June.
That means he will miss games against Toronto, Orlando, Vancouver, New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake, Minnesota and Chicago, yeah that is quite a bit of matches he will be absent for while he is away.
But in terms of good news United have one reinforcement on the bench who should fill his spot until Zeke returns, Tito Villalba. Tito is definitely going to fill in for Barco, but it will be interesting to see if FDB will change or switch around the lineup for the upcoming games, mainly up front and in the attacking midfield.
Tito should take Barco’s spot on the Left Attacking Midfielder side, pairing himself up with teammates Pity Martinez in the middle, Julian Gressel on the right side and Josef Martinez up front, if Tito can step and fill his place for a majority of the games from Mid May until Early June then United should be just fine.
We all know Tito has the explosiveness to sprint down the field, create counter attacking chances and even make the defender look silly one on one, this season he has been pretty reliable in terms of coming on as a Super Sub and he filled in a few games in place of Pity when he was injured, but man would we all like to see let one of his rocket shots fire into the back of the net just like he did against Orlando two seasons ago, that would be epic. Zeke is United’s leading goalscorer with 3 goals so far this season and we hope he can add more to his tally this Sunday vs SKC.
For Ezequiel Barco, this is great as he gets more experience playing for the national team and another interesting fact is that out of the 23 players called up to the Argentina National Team, 2 players are coming from leagues outside the Argentine Super League, that is a big success and rarity for players like Zeke, he’s definitely got the attention of his coaches down there, well deserved.
Even though it’s a youth tournament it is very competitive and it is the U-20 World Cup, the biggest competition of all.
Yes we know it’s not the FIFA World Cup and all like we had last summer in 2018, but still these young players are competing for a future spot in Argentina’s Senior national team and the potential of being the country’s next star player so it means a whole lot to these guys. They work hard through their youth careers starting in the academy and working their way up to the top level, whether it’s for their club or their country, the expectation are the same for everyone.
Zeke is just an example of many other young players who were in the same position he is right now and then they turn out to be the next star of the team whether it’s over on the big stages of European Leagues or setting their sights for a expanding and growing league like MLS before heading across the Atlantic some time in their future hoping to play for the biggest and most successful clubs in the world.
Barco, Pity and former United player Miguel Almiron all had offers from Europe before they even thought about coming to MLS, but with a new franchise beginning in Atlanta under the expertise of Formed Head Coach Tata Martino, he attracted many players from Argentina and the rest of South America because they knew how much of a great coach he was, coaching the likes of the Argentine National team and even Barcelona for a short period of time.
Right now Zeke’s focus is on Sunday’s game vs SKC, but just like the rest of his teammates heading to play alongside each other in the U-20 World Cup, all have a set forward goal and that is to bring a trophy back home for their country and welcoming themselves back home as heroes to the people of Argentina. We wish Zeke the best of luck in the U-20 World Cup and a successful campaign for him and his team!
Edin Pelja |@Julio_Goat Twitter | @ATLSportsHQ Twitter/IG