Gerardo “Tata” Martino has been named the first manager in the history of Atlanta United. The MLS expansion team tapped the former Barcelona and Argentina boss to lead them into their very first season in 2017.
Martino has been out of work since July, when he resigned as Argentina manager following their loss in the Copa America Centenario final and some changes at the federation, which included being taken over by a FIFA normalizing committee because of corruption. He's been linked to the Atlanta job for weeks, with several Argentine outlets reporting that the deal was agreed to a while ago.
Atlanta are making a major statement in hiring Martino. MLS's history is littered with foreign managers who struggled in the league because they failed to adapt to the American players' mentality and, probably more than anything, the convoluted and unique rules in the league. Of the current MLS managers, only Patrick Vieira did not have a history in American soccer before he was hired, but he's doing an excellent job with New York City FC, potentially giving Atlanta more confidence in going after Martino.
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With Martino in tow, Atlanta will have a much stronger pitch to big-name foreign players. Not only does he speak Spanish, which will be an advantage for a team that has been linked to a slew of Mexicans and has already made inroads in Argentina with their first Designated Player signing, Hector Villalba, but his name also carries weight around the globe. Having Martino as their manager is a sign of ambition and gives Atlanta some much-needed legitimacy, considering that they have yet to play a single match.