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Tata Martino returns to Atlanta in 2019 for Mexico friendly

Oct 6, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United head coach Gerardo Martino calls out to his players against the New England Revolution during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Gerardo “Tata” Martino isn’t coaching in Major League Soccer anymore, but the veteran manager will still patrol sidelines on American soil a few times in 2019.

The Federación Mexicana de Fútbol announced Wednesday that Mexico’s men’s national team — which introduced Martino as its newest head coach earlier this week — will play four friendlies this year in the U.S.

Most notably, Martino will make his return to Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium June 5 for a friendly. It was there on Dec. 8 that Martino led Atlanta United FC to their first MLS Cup, a 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers.

Martino, 56, coached the Five Stripes for their first two seasons of MLS play, instructing an offense that created 70 goals in back to back seasons. Atlanta United made the playoffs in each of Martino’s seasons at the helm, and in 2018 they qualified for the Concacaf Champions League and Martino was named MLS Coach of the Year. He declined an option to extend his contract with Atlanta United last October.

Mexico’s friendly at Mercedes-Benz Stadium is also notable because it means El Tri will play in the stadium before the U.S. men’s or women’s national teams will. Neither side has announced any future fixtures scheduled in Atlanta

A time and opponent for Mexico’s friendly in Atlanta has not yet been set. El Tri last visited the Peach City in 2016, defeating Paraguay 1-0 in the Georgia Dome in front of an announced crowd of 63,049.

El Tri’s three other games on its U.S. tour are on March 22 vs. Chile in San Diego, Calif.; March 26 vs. Paraguay in Santa Clara, Calif.; and on June 9 against a to-be-determined opponent in Arlington, Texas at AT&T Stadium. All of the games will be aired live on Univision.

Mexico’s men’s national team has toured the U.S. annually since 2002, often using these matches to prepare for competitions like the Concacaf Gold Cup or the World Cup. Tickets are available at MexTour.org.

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