Neither Ezequiel Barco nor Hector Villalba will be available for Atlanta United for its game Wednesday at Toronto because of ligament injuries in their knees, manager Frank de Boer said Monday. De Boer said he hopes both players are available to return for the U.S. Open Cup game July 10 against St. Louis.
Barco sustained his injury in last week’s, 3-2, win at Columbus in the U.S. Open Cup. De Boer said the injury was the result of Barco being kicked in the knee on separate occasions in the game, but that the injury doesn’t appear to be as serious as Villalba’s.
De Boer said the first kick of Barco occurred out of bounds and he is hopeful the United State Soccer Federation will review the play for possible disciplinary action against Columbus’ Alex Crognale, who received a yellow card.
“That is really trying to get somebody injury,” de Boer said.
Leandro Gonzalez Pirez received a yellow card for his behavior toward the referee after witnessing Barco being kicked in the 51st minute.
“He went directly to get him (Barco), he didn’t want to play the ball,” Gonzalez Pirez said. “This is why I was mad. Maybe it’s a red card in any country, but here, no, for this referee. He gave me the same card as the guy who made the kick. It wasn’t equal.”
The second kick occurred near the end line.
De Boer said that Barco seemed fine during the game but felt discomfort in the knee the day after the game.
Villalba, who also is recovering from a ligament injury in his knee after being kicked at New York Red Bulls on May 19, was one of three starters or key reserves who didn’t practice with the team on Monday. The other player, Josef Martinez, is with the Venezuela national team competing at the Copa America in Brazil.
“It’s very unlucky,” de Boer said.
De Boer has started either Dion Pereira or Justin Meram in Villalba’s place.
Atlanta United (8-5-2) is in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, but has the second-most points per game (1.73) in the conference. Toronto (5-7-4) is in seventh.
De Boer said that Julian Gressel practiced well on Monday. He also said that Brandon Vazquez will start Wednesday at striker.
De Boer also said that the decision to loan Jon Gallagher to Aberdeen was easy because he was third on the depth chart at right fullback.
Atlanta United schedule
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