Atlanta United claimed its first league win of the 2019 season on the back of Ezequiel Barco’s brace in a 2-0 road win against the New England Revolution in Gillette Stadium Saturday night.
Barco was surprisingly not selected in the starting lineup by manager Frank de Boer, but he was required to come off the bench early in the match and completed his brace with a spectacular curling finish.
Things got off to an inauspicious start for Atlanta in the opening 10 minutes of the match. Midfielder Eric Remedi took a knock to the head challenging for a header in the opening seconds of the game, and the injury forced his removal from play around the 10th minute. In the moments between the incident and the eventual substitution that brought Barco into the game, Josef Martinez scuffed a shot on an open goal after he’d rounded New England goalkeeper Cody Cropper.
In the ensuing minutes, Atlanta created two quality attacking opportunities, both flowing through Julian Gressel down the right side. The best ended with Julian Gressel’s trademarked bending low cross onto the foot of an unmarked Josef Martinez, but again the Venezuelan striker was unable to capitalize on the opportunity.
Finally, in the 29th minute, Atlanta found the goal it’d so desperately sought for not just the half hour that preceded it, but for the last month or so. Tito Villalba beat his opposing fullback Andrew Farrell and drifted all the way to the byline before calmly cutting it back to Ezequiel Barco to poke home into the net.
Making a difference right away— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) April 14, 2019
Barco with his 2nd goal of the season! pic.twitter.com/ICny26LIBb
New England thought it had scored the equalizer in the 38th minute, but the linesman rightfully raised is flag to put an end to the light show and player celebrations for the home side.
It didn’t take long after the halftime break for Atlanta United to double it’s lead, again through Ezequiel Barco — except this time the finish was sensational. The Argentine got on the end of another Villalba cutback that squeaked through the mixer. Barco found himself in a 1v1 situation at the corner of the box, and he cut onto his right foot and smashed a curler from 20+ yards past Cropper and into the side netting.
We can't stop watching this pic.twitter.com/ObA87ufjYQ— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) April 14, 2019
While this sensational goal concluded the scoring on the night, Atlanta did not stop trying, as evidenced by the team’s dominant advantage in shots over the home team by a final count of 19-7. Interestingly, Atlanta sat off the ball a bit more than the team has in past games, only controlling 46.7 percent of possession.
With the win, Atlanta finally moves off the bottom of the standings in the Eastern Conference, vaulting up to ninth and currently sit three points below the playoff line.