Atlanta United coach Martino leaving at end of MLS season
Tata Martino is leaving Atlanta United at the end of the MLS season after guiding the expansion franchise to unprecedented success — on the pitch and in the stands. He is reportedly in line to take over as Mexico’s national coach.
In a jarring but not unexpected announcement, United said Tuesday that the 55-year-old Martino turned down an offer to extend his two-year contract beyond 2018, on the heels of the team claiming a spot in next year’s CONCACAF Champions League and as it prepares for go for its first major trophy on the final weekend of the regular season .
Atlanta has tied an MLS record with 69 points (216-6) and can lock up the Supporters’ Shield for best regular-season mark with a victory Sunday at Toronto. That would also ensure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and a chance to host the MLS Cup title game on Dec. 8.
“This was not an easy decision to make,” Martino said in a statement released by the team. “I have enjoyed my time with Atlanta United very much and am proud of what we have accomplished together in such a short time.”
The former FC Barcelona manager and Argentina national coach said he would have no comment on his future plans until after the season.
ESPN reported that he has a verbal agreement to take over as head of Mexico’s national team in December, looking to build on the success of El Tri reaching the Round of 16 at this year’s World Cup in Russia. The Argentina native also was mentioned as a possible candidate for national team vacancies in his home country and the United States.
Atlanta United MLS soccer team head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino, during a news conference in Marietta, Ga.