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Atlanta United’s Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino named MLS Coach of Year

Atlanta United coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino is Major League Soccer's Coach of the Year. (Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)

Gerardo “Tata” Martino will leave Atlanta United FC with at least one trophy.

Major League Soccer announced Tuesday that the Argentine manager has been named Coach of the Year after he received 32.7 percent of the average vote from players, media and front offices from around the league.

Martino, 55, was named the first head coach of Atlanta United on Sept. 27, 2016 after stints coaching the Paraguay and Argentina national teams, FC Barcelona and Newell’s Old Boys.

Martino and the club announced last month that he would leave at the end of this season, as Martino chose not to exercise an option on his initial two-year contract.

In his second year as the head coach of the Five Stripes, Martino led them to a 21-7-6 record, good enough for a second seed in the MLS Cup Playoffs and a berth in the Concacaf Champions League. Atlanta United beat NYCFC 4-1 across two legs in the Eastern Conference semifinals and are now slated to face the New York Red Bulls for a chance to go to the MLS Cup Final. If Atlanta makes the final, they will host the game on Dec. 8.

Martino and his tactics led Atlanta United to the league’s best regular season road record (10-5-2), and they also tied the previous all-time points record (69) and surpassed the previous post-shootout single-season wins record with 21 regular-season victories. Atlanta outscored every MLS club this year, netting consecutive 70-goal seasons for the first time in MLS history.

While Atlanta United’s offense was led by superstar DP’s in Josef Martinez and Miguel Almiron, his roster mixed in grizzly MLS veterans, like Michael Parkhurst and Jeff Larentowicz, while also weaving in up-and-coming teenage talents like Ezequiel Barco, Andrew Carleton and George Bello.

In Martino’s system, Martinez and Almiron flourished, as both were named to the MLS Best XI for the second straight year. Martinez also broke the MLS single-season scoring record and won the league’s Golden Boot.

Despite injuries to key players such as Hector “Tito” Villalba, Greg Garza and Darlington Nagbe, Atlanta continued to play strong throughout the season and never lost back-to-back games. Martino adapted his formations to the players that were available to him, using three, four and five men on the back lines. After numerous injuries to fullbacks, he called on 16-year-old homegrown Bello to start in a pair of matches. Bello played well and even scored once.

Bello, Carleton and the expensive but talented Barco combined for more than 2,000 minutes played under Martino this season across 23 starts and 36 appearances.

Here’s how the Coach of the Year voting broke down:

Coach of the Year  Player Vote  Club Vote  Media Vote Final %
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%

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