ATLANTA — Ezequiel Barco, Atlanta United’s diminutive attacking midfielder, will represent his country at the forthcoming Under-20 World Cup in Poland. Barco was named to the 21-player Argentina U-20 squad on Friday, according to an announcement from the club.
Barco will leave Atlanta to join manager Fernando Batista’s team this Monday, May 6. Argentina’s will play its first game of the tournament on May 25 against South Africa. Group stage games against South Korea and Portugal follow on May 28 and May 31, respectively. Should Argentina advance all the way to the final, the team will play through June 15.
Barco’s departure comes at an inopportune time for Atlanta. The Five Stripes have eight games scheduled in the next month. Barco will miss at least the following contests: Toronto FC on May 8, Orlando City on May 12, at the Vancouver Whitecaps on May 15, at the New York Red Bulls on May 19, at Real Salt Lake on May 24 and Minnesota United on May 29. The June 2 home game against the Chicago Fire seems in doubt as well.
Barco has played well this season. He leads the team with three goals and ranked second in Major League soccer by averaging 3.2 key passes per game in April, according to the Opta statistics database.
In Barco’s send-off game, Atlanta travels to face Sporting Kansas City this Sunday at Children’s Mercy Park. The Five Stripes and SKC kick off at 9 p.m. ET.