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Atlanta United Final Exams: Ezequiel Barco

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The one slight disappointment on a great season for Atlanta United

MLS: MLS Cup-Portland Timbers vs Atlanta United FC Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ezequiel Barco

Position: Forward

Games Played: 31 appearances, 19 starts

Goals: 4

Assists: 2

What went right this season?

It wasn’t an awful season for the Argentinean playmaker, but it wasn’t what we expected. From the start, he didn’t look comfortable with the pressing style Tata demanded. It was always going to be hard for a 19-year-old coming to a new country to live up to his record transfer fee, but off field issues and a suspension certainly didn’t help. Once he came back from suspension, he still didn’t look 100% settled in Atlanta’s style of play or confident with the ball moving forward. Eventually, with the change of formation heading into the playoffs, he started coming from the bench, appearing much sharper and active. Hopefully it’s something to build on for him with a new coach coming in 2019.

What does he need to improve on?

A extremely talented player, we saw flashes of Barco’s abilities this season, but he needs more consistency and a little bit more confidence. It’s never easy to come to a team with Miguel Almirón, Tito Villalba and Josef Martinez and establish yourself. But as he enters into his second year, with Almirón probably gone, Barco will need to take command of the attack and just go for it.

What role will he play in 2019?

Even though we don’t know who the next manager will be, Barco is expected to play a huge role for the team next year. We all know Miguel Almirón will probably be sold in this upcoming transfer window, so that should open a role in the starting lineup for him. As the potential new number 10 for Atlanta, he is facing a tough job, but that’s his natural position and with the talent around him, he should excel in it. We don’t expect him to replicate Miggy’s production, but in 2019 we expect him to be the dangerous and ambitious player he was in Independiente.

Overall Player Grade: C-