Tata Martino might’ve are available to MLS together with his nostril turned up. He had managed Argentina, one of many world’s most vital nationwide groups. He coached Barcelona, one of many world’s biggest membership groups. Now he deigned to come back to the USA and take over an enlargement crew.
However it wasn’t like that.
As his Atlanta United gamers put together for Saturday’s MLS Cup last towards the Portland Timbers, the final sport Martino will coach with the membership, his gamers are reflecting on a legacy Martino is leaving of humility, sacrifice and a simple fashion that has made him a beloved determine within the 5 Stripes’ locker room.
“I believe the factor that in all probability caught out to me probably the most is simply how humble and the way trustworthy he’s,” defender Greg Garza stated. “Off the sphere, he’s a man you’ll be able to in all probability speak to concerning the sport or discuss something with and he’ll offer you a straight reply – and let you know what he’s feeling or what he thinks about you on the dot. There’s nothing he hides.
“He’s the form of particular person that may sit within the center seat on the airplane on journey days, and he doesn’t complain about it. He doesn’t wish to make himself really feel a bit extra particular than any of us. He’s part of this group, part of this crew and we will depart him legacy on Saturday.”
Garza is one among a number of gamers Martino and the crew’s entrance workplace introduced in to assist construct a crew that made the ultimate in its second 12 months of existence. He arrived on mortgage final season from Membership Tijuana and signed a long-term deal after a profitable first marketing campaign. There are the MLS veterans like Michael Parkhurst and Jeff Larentowicz, the South American rising stars like Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez. There are younger gamers like Julian Gressel, acquired within the draft and U.S. nationwide crew gamers like Brad Guzan who got here again from Europe. It is all held collectively by Martino and his philosophy of not solely having an ideal crew on the sphere but in addition having good individuals working collectively off it.
“I’ve seen groups the place there are unhealthy relationships within the locker room however they’ll depart that apart and win on the sphere. For me, I’m not glad with any a part of that,” Martino stated at a information convention. “It’s essential to have group of folks that get alongside properly, the place the individuals are available to work and do it in a contented means, that they take pleasure in being on the membership.
“And it’s not simply the gamers, however the teaching employees, the trainers additionally, the kit-man, the individuals who work across the membership. In these two years, we’ve been in a position to work in a fabulous surroundings with distinctive amenities. I believe that good vitality over the course of time transmits itself on to the sphere.”
Whereas Atlanta’s gamers stated they’re assured the surroundings fostered by Martino nonetheless can thrive when he leaves after the season, they’re going to nonetheless miss the 56-year-old as he strikes on to new pursuits. A number of experiences say Martino is ready to signal a deal to educate the Mexico nationwide crew. If true, his gamers say El Tri are getting a coach that’s humble but in addition speaks clearly and immediately.
“He’s a wonderful supervisor. He has a whole lot of good values as an individual. He makes issues very clear with brief and direct messages,” heart again Leandro Gonzalez Pírez stated. “On the enjoying discipline, it’s the identical. He speaks about engaged on techniques very clearly and is aware of loads about soccer, so we’re going to overlook him loads.”
Requested to single out a couple of traits he’ll miss concerning the supervisor, midfielder Miguel Almiron struggled to pinpoint one factor. “I believe I’m going to overlook every thing about Tata,” he stated. “Not simply me, however my teammates, the followers in Atlanta. He’s an ideal particular person, and as everybody is aware of he’s an ideal supervisor.”
An important supervisor who, by his personal admission, has struggled in finals. It is clear Martino has left a giant mark on Atlanta and will probably be remembered fondly each for his crew’s on-field achievements in addition to his character and the way he handled these round him in Atlanta. But, it could really feel a bit empty if he is not in a position to elevate MLS Cup together with his gamers Saturday.
As Garza stated, the gamers do hope to place silverware within the trophy cupboard and add to Martino’s private haul. However successful the league additionally serves as its personal motivation.
“There is no added urgency due to Tata leaving or the rumors concerning any of our gamers or something like that,” Guzan stated. “There’s urgency as a result of, while you’re in a cup last, you by no means know while you’ll have the chance to be in one other one. “
Nonetheless, it could be an exquisite last second for Martino, a prize for beginning what he and lots of others right here really feel will probably be a legacy of engaging soccer, a robust bond with the followers and, above all, a successful crew.
“I appreciated the concepts and ambition the franchise had and I rapidly began to comply with with that very same concept,” Martino stated. “All the things that has occurred since exhibits the readability Atlanta United has had with the way in which it desires to work and the trail it got down to comply with, and that’s what’s taking place.
“The franchise’s expectations continue to grow, because it’s solely been two years. I’m stunned by the magnitude of every thing, however not for what’s occurred as a result of what has occurred was the very first thing they put to me.”
A imaginative and prescient of successful that the supervisor has carried out with humility and love for his gamers. All that is left is to attract up a successful sport plan to high Portland and spark a send-off celebration for the ages.