For the fourth match in a row, Atlanta United was without designated player Ezequiel Barco in the team’s 4-0 against D.C. United at Audi Field Saturday night. The Argentine attacker hasn’t played in a game for the Five Stripes since September 12 in a 4-2 loss on the road to Nashville SC.
Barco has remained “day-to-day” through most of the 21-days since that match, according to Atlanta United manager Stephen Glass. There was optimism this week after Glass gave a health update on the squad, saying Barco was part of a group of four players in which one was not going to partake and the other three could. But come game time, two of the players in that group — Barco and midfielder Matheus Rossetto — were out of the squad. Neither player traveled with the team.
Here’s what Glass had to say about Barco’s situation after the game.
“In terms of Barco, 100 percent I see him playing for the team the rest of the year. I think on Thursday we did the press conference and I said that three of the four players that were potentially available. (Matheus) Rossetto was the player not potentially available. Two other lads, Miles Robinson played tonight, and Jürgen Damm came on as a sub tonight.
“Ezequiel has been training. He is day-to-day. I don’t want to divulge what his injury is, but he’s been carrying an injury where he has been able to train.He’s still been feeling things, he’s had a couple of setbacks unfortunately. There is nothing sinister going on with him. I’ve seen the suggestions. I’ve seen the suggestions that I’m not being honest that he’s training. He’s 100 percent training. I read an article the other days saying, “alleged injuries.” He has an injury. So, that’s the simple facts. I’m not being misleading in any way. The club is not being misleading in any way. He wants to play, we want him to play, and he will play a part later on in the season. I don’t know when, but hopefully very soon.”
What’s interesting is that if Barco actually had a chance of playing Saturday, why was he not listed as “questionable” on the team’s injury report? This, of course, would be out of Glass’s purview, so we shouldn’t rush to ascribe any perceived secrecy or misdirection as the manager’s modus operandi. Clearly, Glass knows there is some line of information that he’s not permitted to cross, as he admitted when he said he didn’t “want to divulge what his injury is.”
The reason this even matters is that the observable incongruence compels people to question why it’s the case. Why isn’t Barco listed as questionable if he’s referred to as “day-to-day”? Allowing anyone to connect dots on their own instead of connecting dots for them raises the specter of inaccurate conclusions being drawn. If Barco had been listed as questionable since the start of this nagging injury (one I believe he’s reporting, for what it’s worth), it would put Glass’s words in a more acceptable light, and Glass would undoubtedly be fielding fewer questions on the topic.
Regardless of why Barco is missing games, the ultimate question surrounding the player’s absence has been whether he could potentially be moved before the close of the transfer window, which shuts for most of Europe on October 5.
Barco gave an unremarkable statement about his future on September 17, prior to missing any of the last four matches in question.
“I’ve always said that I try to live in the present and just live day-to-day as a player,” Barco said through an interpreter. “So right now, my head is focused on Atlanta. I’m defending the colors of this shirt. In the future, we’ll see what happens. I leave that to my representative. But at the moment, my head is focused on Atlanta.”