Atlanta United will be without Barco against NYCFC

Atlanta United midfielder Ezequiel Barco (8) executed a pass during the match against Toronto FC Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at BMO Training Ground in Toronto, Ontario. (Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)
Atlanta United midfielder Ezequiel Barco (8) executed a pass during the match against Toronto FC Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at BMO Training Ground in Toronto, Ontario. (Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)

Credit: Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United

Appeal of red card denied by independent review panel

Atlanta United will be without Ezequiel Barco for Wednesday’s game against NYCFC because an independent review panel denied the club’s appeal of a red card given to him during Saturday’s 2-0 win at Toronto. The panel’s decision was announced Tuesday.

In addition to the one-game suspension, the MLS Disciplinary Committee on Tuesday announced that Barco was fined for failing to the leave field in a timely manner. The committee also ruled that Atlanta United and Toronto violated the mass-confrontation policy following the red cards given to Barco and Toronto’s Auro Jr. by referee Timothy Ford. Assistant coach Rob Valentino was fined an undisclosed amount for his actions in what the committee described as “inciting and/or escalating” a mass confrontation. Toronto’s Richie Laryea also was fined for the same behavior.

The red cards were given after the two players went head-to-head near the end of the game in the 83rd and 84th minutes. The red cards were issued for “violent conduct.” Toronto’s appeal also was denied by the independent review panel, which is composed of one representative from the U.S. Soccer Federation, one representative from the Canadian Soccer Association and one independent representative nominated by the Professional Referee Organization.

It was the third red card issued to an Atlanta United player this season. Atlanta United successfully appealed one given to Jake Mulraney. The other was given to Josef Martinez, who subsequently served the suspension. The Barco decision was the club’s first unsuccessful appeal this season. Each club can have as many as two unsuccessful appeals during a season, including the playoffs.

Credit: MLS

Luiz Araujo scored the winning goal, which moved the Five Stripes from eighth to fifth in the East.

Credit: MLS

Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda said after the game and again Tuesday that he didn’t think the behavior of the players rose to the level of a red card.

Pineda said Tuesday that if Barco, who has scored seven goals and has seven assists, couldn’t play there are good options to replace him, including the return of Josef Martinez, who leads the team with 10 goals. Pineda also could use Jake Mulraney, Erik Lopez, Jurgen Damm or Machop Chol in a one-for-one replacement.

“Obviously, it’s not ideal not having X or Y player, but we always try to replace it with the whole team playing in a certain style,” Pineda said. “So everybody’s important, but you know, the team is more important all the time. ... If we have to bring someone else, next man up, we will try to deal with that.”

Wednesday’s game is important for both teams because points are at a premium as the season winds down.

Atlanta United is in fifth in the Eastern Conference with 42 points with five games remaining. NYCFC is in eighth with 40 points. The Five Stripes trail fourth-place Orlando by three points and third-place Philadelphia by four. It leads 10th-place Columbus by five points.

“The importance of these games are going to make us play at the best of our abilities,” Pineda said. “And hopefully we can get the results to get in the playoffs and that mentality is going to stay there and we will have a good momentum to go into playoffs, so that’s a positive for sure. And we’re just waiting to get these three points and see what is next.”

While Atlanta United is finishing well with 21 points from its past 10 games, NYCFC has just nine points from its past 10 games.

“I think they are a team that plays very good football. We appreciate the football they bring to the field, and we know is going to be a very, very good match,” Pineda said. “We’re going to enjoy playing against them. And I hope we can get a better result. That’s all but the mentality of the team is there. They know what is in place. And they know what type of game would we have to play to get the three points.”

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Atlanta United’s 2021 MLS schedule

April 17 Atlanta United 0, Orlando 0

April 24 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 1

May 1 New England 2, Atlanta United 1

May 9 Atlanta United 1, Inter Miami 1,

May 15 Atlanta United 1, Montreal 0

May 23 Atlanta United 1, Seattle 1

May 29 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

June 20 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 2

June 23 NYCFC 1, Atlanta United 0

June 27 Atlanta United 0, New York Red Bulls 0

July 3 Chicago 3, Atlanta United 0

July 8 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

July 17 New England 1, Atlanta United 0

July 21 Atlanta United 1, Cincinnati 1

July 24 Columbus 1, Atlanta United 0

July 30 Orlando 3, Atlanta United 2

Aug. 4 Atlanta United 2, Montreal 2

Aug. 7 Atlanta United 3, Columbus 2

Aug. 15 Atlanta United 1, LAFC 0

Aug. 18 Atlanta United 1, Toronto

Aug. 21 Atlanta United 2, D.C. United 1

Aug. 28 Nashville 2, Atlanta United 0

Sept. 10 Atlanta United 3, Orlando 0

Sept. 15 Atlanta United 4, Cincinnati 0

Sept. 18 Atlanta United 3, D.C. United 2

Sept. 25 Philadelphia 1, Atlanta United 0

Sept. 29 Atlanta United 1, Inter Miami 0

Oct. 2 Montreal 2, Atlanta United 1

Oct. 16 Atlanta United 2, Toronto 0

Oct. 20 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 27 vs. Inter Miami, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 30 vs. Toronto, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Nov. 3 at New York Red Bulls, TBD, FS1

Nov. 7 at Cincinnati, 3:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

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