4. Ezequiel Barco
Ezequiel Barco has spent the last eight months dominating headlines in both Atlanta and the league. His $15 million transfer fee is the highest fee for a player incoming to the league, and he’s only 19 years old. Atlanta snagged him from South America to help dominate possession and break down bunker defenses. However, Barco’s season has been a roller coaster ride, to say the least.
First, Barco signed the record deal to come to MLS. Then, he picked up an injury during the preseason and missed the first handful of Atlanta’s matches. Barco found his footing, scoring three goals in four matches. After his emergence, he fell into a slump and seemingly became frustrated. To make matters worse, Barco was suddenly suspended in mid July. Although there is still no confirmation on the reason for the suspension, there are many rumors to suggest Barco interfered with a teammate’s romantic relationship.
Barco has worked his back to the pitch though, making his first appearance this past Sunday against Columbus since his suspension began. Although he may not start against Orlando City, I heavily expect Barco to make an appearance. His skills and monetary worth to the club will not stop him from playing, and the team will definitely work to get him back in the fold.
Just as all eyes will be on Martinez, all eyes will be on how teammates interact with Barco on the pitch. He only played 16 minutes against Columbus, but he hardly held possession. If Barco sees more minutes against Orlando, it will be worth watching just how much Barco impacts the game.