Atlanta United midfielder Ezequiel Barco won’t play in Saturday’s game against Toronto at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Manager Gerardo Martino said Friday that Barco will miss his third consecutive game after committing an undisclosed act of indiscipline. Barco has trained with the team.
Martino said the first two games that Barco missed were the decision of the coaching staff and the club. Barco’s omission from Saturday’s game against Toronto is Martino’s decision.
“I understand it’s been a difficult period for him,” Martino said. “He misbehaved and misbehaviors have their consequences. He still has to deal with those consequences. From now it will be my decision to see how he’s doing.”
Atlanta United has won each of its past two games, 3-1 against D.C. United and 2-1 at Montreal. Barco’s next opportunity to be in an 18 will be Aug. 19 vs. Columbus.
In his first comments about Barco two weeks ago, Martino said he wants to see how Barco responds to the disciplinary situation.
“He’s fulfilling our expectations,” Martino said. “He’s training well.”
Barco seemed contrite during interviews before the All-Star game in Atlanta, saying that his omission was a coaches’ decision and he was fine with it. He played well in the All-Star game Wednesday against Juventus.
“It’s a coach’s decision, and I respect that just like ever player must,” Barco said.
Barco, 19, started the previous 15 consecutive games. He has four goals and one assist in league play this season.
He was acquired for a reported fee of $15 million from Independiente in Argentina in the offseason. He is the most expensive acquisition in MLS history.
Barco’s absence against Toronto opens the door for myriad possibilities for the lineup. Andrew Carleton started in Barco’s place against D.C. United. Carleton played well. Hector Villalba moved from the right to the left at Montreal. He also played well.
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