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Atlanta United’s Martino named MLS Coach of the Year

Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino was voted as the MLS Coach of the Year in results released by the league Tuesday.

Martino, 55, received an average of 33 percent of first-place votes from the media, players and clubs to edge LAFC’s Bob Bradley (22 percent) and Sporting KC’s Peter Vermes (11 percent).

Under Martino, Atlanta United has become one of the more exciting clubs in MLS. It led the league in goals scored (70; the first team to reach that plateau in consecutive seasons) and broke a league record for road wins (21) and road points (32).

Atlanta United finished the regular season with 69 points, tied for the second-most in league history. That total helped the Five Stripes clinch a spot in next year’s CONCACAF Champions League. Martino will not coach the team in the tournament, having decided not to exercise the option on his contract past this season.

Though Atlanta United failed to win the Supporters’ Shield after a dispiriting loss in season’s final regular-season game, Martino has led the club to Eastern Conference finals, where it will play New York Red Bulls.

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Throughout the regular season, Martino displayed the tactical acumen developed as a player at Newell’s Old Boy and manager at many clubs, notably Barcelona and Argentina’s national team. The team could play the aggressive press it used last season from a 4-2-3-1 formation, or as a counter-attacking team from a 3-5-2 or 5-3-2 formation. 

Martino also helped Atlanta United overcome numerous injuries throughout the season. At one point, the team was down to what would be considered its fifth-string left fullback in a game, yet still won.

Martino was also blessed with a talented roster that featured two MLS Best XI players in Josef Martinez, who set the league single-season scoring record with 31 goals, and Miguel Almiron, who scored 12 goals and 14 assists, as well as Michael Parkhurst and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, who finished third and fourth in Defender of the Year voting, and Brad Guzan, who finished fifth in Goalkeeper of the Year voting.

Though not active on social media and rarely seen out in Atlanta, Martino is beloved by Atlanta United supporters for his sense of humor in news conferences, fashion (the black sweater hanging over his shoulders, over a red shirt), and his fatherly style with his players.  In winning the Golden Boot, Martinez said that Martino is much more than just his manager. Martinez said that he and other players talk to Martino about things other than soccer.

The supporters honored him before last week’s 3-1 win against NYCFC in the Eastern Conference semifinals with a tifo bearing his likeness.

“I’m very thankful for all the affection that the fans have showed me over these two years,” he said. “It makes me very happy. I’ve been very involved with everything Atlanta United – with the players, the fans. It’s a beautiful acknowledgement that the Atlanta fans have shown me.”

Coach of the Year, Player Vote, Club Vote, Media Vote, Final percent 

Gerardo "Tata" Martino (ATL), 46.92, 29.91, 21.32, 32.72

Bob Bradley (LAFC), 20.53, 14.95, 31.53, 22.34 

Peter Vermes (SKC), 6.16, 15.89, 10.81, 10.95 

Jim Curtin (PHI), 3.81, 13.08, 7.51, 8.13 

Chris Armas (NY), 5.87, 3.74, 13.81, 7.81

Note: Numerals represent percentages.

MLS Coach of the Year Winners:

2018: Gerardo “Tata” Martino, Atlanta United

2017: Greg Vanney, Toronto FC

2016: Oscar Pareja, FC Dallas

2015: Jesse Marsch, New York Red Bulls

2014: Ben Olsen, D.C. United

2013: Caleb Porter, Portland Timbers

2012: Frank Yallop, San Jose Earthquakes

2011: Bruce Arena, LA Galaxy

2010: Schellas Hyndman, FC Dallas

2009: Bruce Arena, LA Galaxy

2008: Sigi Schmid, Columbus Crew SC

2007: Preki, Chivas USA

2006: Bob Bradley, Chivas USA

2005: Dominic Kinnear, San Jose Earthquakes

2004: Greg Andrulis, Columbus Crew SC

2003: Dave Sarachan, Chicago Fire

2002: Steve Nicol, New England Revolution

2001: Frank Yallop, San Jose Earthquakes

2000: Bob Gansler, Kansas City Wizards

1999: Sigi Schmid, LA Galaxy

1998: Bob Bradley, Chicago Fire

1997: Bruce Arena, D.C. United

1996: Thomas Rongen, Tampa Bay Mutiny

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