Atlanta United head coach Gabriel Heinze is preparing for a thread-bare roster this summer after he told media in a press conference Thursday that Ezequiel Barco will be added to the Argentine Olympic roster. Barco joins Miles Robinson, George Bello and Brad Guzan as players who will miss MLS matches while on international duty.
The first match of the Olympics this summer is scheduled to be played on July 22 when Argentina will play Australia. While we don’t know the exact date of when Barco will report to the national team training camp ahead of the tournament, it’s unlikely he will be with the Five Stripes when they play their next match in Atlanta on July 17. The team has upcoming road games this Saturday (July 3) and next Thursday (July 8).
The Olympic group stage runs through July 28. If Argentina is knocked out (unlikely), Barco could see his return to the club for the team’s match on August 4 against Montreal. If Argentina advances into the knockout rounds and plays all the way to the final medal matches, that would carry through the entire summer transfer window, which closes August 5. Barco, who hasn’t drawn much public interest but is clearly a player on the radar of clubs this summer, could theoretically be playing his last matches for Atlanta United this coming week before his departure to Tokyo.
In total, Barco is likely to miss four games for Atlanta United, but it could be as many as six.
If Barco stays with the club through the transfer window, the earliest Atlanta United fans would see him in Mercedes-Benz Stadium would be August 15 against LAFC.
The timing of the international tournaments puts Atlanta United’s roster in a state of crisis, during a key period of the season with the club struggling at 10th in the Eastern Conference standings.