MARIETTA, Ga. — After Atlanta United secured their passage to MLS Cup at Red Bull Arena last week, two of the team’s Argentines, Ezequiel Barco and Franco Escobar, shared a special postgame celebration. No one around the club knows exactly what to call it.
“That dance doesn't exist,” Escobar said Wednesday, while laughing. “We just invented it in the moment out of pure joy.”
Fellow Atlanta Argentine Eric Remedi had his own take.
“Everyone celebrates in their own ways,” he joked earlier this week. “Just let them dance the way they dance.”
While Escobar and Barco might be on the end of some ribbing in the WhatsApp group chat reserved for the team’s South American contingent, no one will be criticizing either's play of late.
Escobar is hitting the best form of his career in Atlanta during this Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs run. Manager "Tata" Martino switched the player he calls a “born a center back” to the right wingback role, where Escobar has provided pure speed in Atlanta’s 5-3-2 formation.
“It was difficult at the beginning due to some injuries and adapting to some new things,” Escobar said through a translator. “Hopefully I can keep surprising people, but I think finally in these last few games, I'm reaching the level that I wanted and that I expected when I came here.”
Barco, on the other hand, has embraced a role reversal this postseason. Having been a regular starter for Atlanta early following his league-record transfer move, he was benched by Martino midseason for “acts of indiscipline.” His journey back to relevancy in Atlanta’s squad has been an arduous one, but he’s settled into a “supersub” role.
“You always learn from mistakes that you make on and off the field, and my teammates have done a great job of helping me,” said Barco, who scored in the Copa Sudamericana final for Independiente in the Maracanã last season. “All the Argentines involved are experiencing [MLS Cup] like it's a South American final. We're excited and looking to enjoy the game.”
If Atlanta are able to get the result they want come Saturday, Escobar says he and Barco will be ready to give the fans what they want.
“If we're dancing, it means that we've won,” said Escobar. “If we win, I promise we'll have another dance.”