Ezequiel Barco, Claudio Bravo make early Olympics exit with Argentina

One team’s loss is another team's gain.

Argentina were eliminated from the Tokyo 2020 Men’s Olympic Soccer Tournament on Wednesday after drawing Spain 1-1 to close out Group C play, an effort that included Portland Timbers left back Claudio Bravo and Atlanta United midfielder Ezequiel Barco. By missing out on the knockout round, both players are slated to rejoin their MLS sides in the coming days.

Only the top two teams in each group advanced to the quarterfinals, and Argentina finished third in Group C behind Spain and Egypt with a 1W-1L-1D record. The 22-year-old Barco started and was subbed out in all three matches, though didn’t find the scoresheet. Meanwhile, the 24-year-old Bravo started their last two matches.

Argentina, alongside Brazil, originally qualified for the Tokyo Olympics through the 2020 Conmebol Pre-Olympic Tournament. When the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the summertime global sporting games back a year, 1997-born players were grandfathered into what’s usually an Under-23 competition with three overage players.

While Barco was away with Argentina’s Olympic team, Atlanta United parted ways with former head coach Gabriel Heinze. He’s now in his fourth MLS season after a highly-touted move from Independiente, a Designated Player who’s offered mixed results at 11 goals and 10 assists through 64 games (47 starts).

Bravo should provide a boost to a Portland team that’s been hit hard by injuries. He joined the Timbers in December from Banfield and has supplied one assist in 10 games (all starts) thus far in MLS.