At­lanta United coach Martino leav­ing at end of MLS sea­son

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL SPORTS - By Paul New­berry AP Sports Writer

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.

Gold­man / AP-David

At­lanta United MLS soc­cer team head coach Ger­ardo “Tata” Martino, dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in Ma­ri­etta, Ga.

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