Ezequiel Barco came off the substitutes bench to score two goals as Frank De Boer's Atlanta United recorded a 2-0 road victory over the New England Revolution on Saturday.
The win was Atlanta's first of the season, improving the MLS Cup champions' record to 1-2-2 through five games.
The victory also marked De Boer's first league win as a manager since Oct. 26, 2016. The former Dutch star led Inter Milan to a 2-1 win over Torino that day but, in the 900 days since -- which included a disastrous stint as Crystal Palace boss in the Premier League -- De Boer had failed to guide Inter, Palace or Atlanta to a single league triumph.
In the 29th minute, Hector Villalba made a strong charge into the Revolution's end, outpacing Luis Caicedo (who was playing out of position at full-back). Villalba took the ball into the box, then passed to a charging Barco for the conversion.
Barco's second goal came in spectacular fashion in the 49th minute. The midfielder had a wide-open look on a ball at the corner from the box, and Barco used this virtual free kick opportunity to curl a wonderfully placed shot into the far side of net.
After setting the MLS transfer record when he joined Atlanta for $15 million in 2018, Barco scored only four goals in 26 league games in his debut season. But this year, Barco already has three goals in five league contests.
None of Barco's three goals, however, have come as a member of the starting XI. The midfielder made an early entry in the 15th minute Saturday as Eric Remedi was removed with an apparent injury.
New England's record drops to 1-5-1 through seven matches. This nightmarish start includes three losses on the Revolution's home field.
With Michael Mancienne (suspension), Edgar Castillo (calf) and Antonio Delamea (knee) all unavailable, New England's makeshift backline was perhaps fortunate to only surrender two goals against Atlanta's constant pressure.
Atlanta outshot the Revolution by a 19-7 margin, including an 8-1 edge in shots on goal. Josef Martinez contributed five of those shots, though the star forward showed an uncharacteristic lack of finish. Martinez couldn't get a good touch during a breakaway attempt in the 7th minute and then fell down after taking a cross in front during the 19th minute.
Atlanta improves to 3-0-2 all time against New England.