It's official. Atlanta United FC have their first-ever head coach, and he's got an impeccable resume.
After weeks of speculation, Atlanta United, which will enter MLS as an expansion team in 2017, announced on Tuesday the appointment of former Argentina and Barcelona boss Gerardo 'Tata' Martino as the first head coach in team history.
“This is an incredibly exciting and historic day for our club,” Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank said in a statement. “Gerardo brings an unprecedented level of international experience to our head coaching position that will be a valuable asset to our players and demonstrates the continuing growth of Major League Soccer. We’re thrilled he’s chosen to join our club and look forward to welcoming him to Atlanta.”
Martino, 53, enters MLS with an undeniable pedigree. After a successful playing career in South America and Spain, including nearly 400 appearances for hometown club Newell's Old Boys, the Argentine entered the coaching ranks, serving at a number of South American clubs before taking the reins of the Paraguayan national team in 2007 after winning four consecutive Paraguayan domestic league titles.
The Argentine led Paraguay to their best-ever showing at a World Cup, reaching the quarterfinals in 2010, and followed that up with a final appearance in the 2011 Copa America tournament, their best showing since winning it in 1979.
After leaving Paraguay in 2011, he became manager of Newell's Old Boys in 2012 and took the legendary club, one of the biggest in Argentina, from the brink of relegation to first-division champions in the 2013 Torneo Final. Martino also led Newell's to a Copa Libertadores semifinal berth in 2013.
He was appointed FC Barcelona manager for the 2013-14 season, replacing Tito Vilanova, and won the Spanish Super Cup with the club. After leaving Spain, Martino was named Argentina national team head coach in 2014, and guided the Albiceleste to back-to-back Copa America finals in 2015 and 2016.
“I’m very happy to join Atlanta United as the first head coach in club history,” Martino said. “This is an exciting time for MLS and I’m looking forward to the challenge of leading a team in an evolving league. Atlanta United is a first-rate organization, and I’m very eager to get working and build one of the top clubs in MLS.”
Martino will be introduced to the media on Wednesday. You can watch his introductory press conference live at MLSsoccer.com at 10 am ET.