Barco desperate to rejoin Atlanta United on field, Bocanegra says

Atlanta United midfielder Ezequiel Barco could rejoin the team as early as Saturday, team vice president Carlos Bocanegra said Thursday.

Bocanegra declined to say what injury prevented Barco from participating in the past five games. Bocanegra noted that before Barco’s absence he was the most fouled player in MLS and doesn’t want to give opponents information about his injury that could be used against him. Bocanegra did say that the injury isn’t long-term. Atlanta United is the second-most fouled (240) team in MLS this season, trailing Miami (242). Despite only 10 appearances, Barco is the third-most fouled (40) player in the league.

Bocanegra said that Barco is meeting with the team’s training staff as frequently as three times a day in an attempt to return to playing.

Bocanegra said that he’s read the speculation why Barco isn’t playing -- that he’s holding out -- but said it isn’t true. He acknowledged that there has been an interest in the past from other clubs in buying Barco, but that isn’t what is happening now.

“There is no funny business,” Bocanegra said. “His head is here in Atlanta.”

Barco has been available to play in the past few games, but was a late scratch each time. He has trained with the team and individually.

Barco, 21, has two goals and three assists this season.

“He’s desperate to get back on the field,” Bocanegra said.