Atlanta United announced today that Gerardo “Tata” Martino has declined to extend his contract with the club beyond 2018 and will move on at the end of this season. The club will immediately begin a detailed global search for a replacement.

According to a press release by the club, “amicable” negotiations took place between Atlanta United and Martino regarding the option to extend his contract, the head coach ultimately made the decision to move on after the 2018 season for personal reasons.  No comment will be made by Martino regarding his future until after the conclusion of the season.

Martino was heavily rumored for the head coach (managerial) positions with the U.S. Men’s National Team and Mexico. He has not confirmed or denied the validity of those reports.

“This was not an easy decision to make, I have enjoyed my time with Atlanta United very much and am proud of what we have accomplished together in such a short time,” said Atlanta United head coach Tata Martino. “The decision was not made for financial reasons, negotiations with the front office were transparent and fair. It was simply the right move for me and my family at this time. The opportunity to build a team from the start does not come along often, and I am grateful to the club and to the fans for putting their trust in me to establish a solid foundation here in Atlanta. What is most important now is that the focus remain on our goals for this season.”

Martino was announced as the club’s inaugural head coach on Sept. 27, 2016. In two years, he compiled a record of 38-17-17 in all competitions and guided the club to back-to-back MLS Cup Playoff appearances, which included becoming just the fourth expansion team in league history to qualify for the postseason. Over the last two seasons, no team in MLS has claimed more points (124), scored more goals (139) or posted a higher goal differential (+59) than Atlanta. The club also qualified for the 2019 Concacaf Champions League by securing the best record in MLS over the last two seasons.

“We are very grateful to Tata for his commitment to Atlanta United and for all he has done to help build our club during our first two years in the league,” said Atlanta United president Darren Eales. “True to his reputation, he has been an incredible leader and has set us up for great success moving forward.  From the beginning, his vision for Atlanta United was aligned with ours, and his level of experience, talent and leadership has been extremely valuable during this critical time. He will be missed, but we understand and appreciate his reasons for moving on to spend time with family and take on new challenges.”

During Martino’s tenure, several Atlanta United players have reached high levels of success. This year, Josef Martinez shattered the league’s single-season goal record that stood untouched for 22 years. Martinez scored his 28th goal in just the club’s 26th match, and now has 30 goals on the season. Under Martino’s leadership, seven players were named to an MLS All-Star team, including Miguel Almirón and Michael Parkhurst who were each selected in both seasons. In addition, three Atlanta United players claimed multiple end-of-year awards in 2017 including Almirón (Best XI, Newcomer of the Year), Martinez (Best XI) and Julian Gressel (Rookie of the Year).

“Tata will leave our fans with wonderful memories of our first years, and will always hold a special place in the Atlanta United history books,” said Eales.  “We look forward to finishing this season strong together, and wish him nothing but the best in the future.”

Atlanta United (21-6-6, 69 points) can claim the 2018 MLS Supporters’ Shield with a win in its MLS Regular Season finale against Toronto FC on Sunday, Oct. 28 (4:30 p.m., FOX Sports South, Sports Radio 92-9 The Game).

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...

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