Report: Ex-Barca, Argentina boss Martino to be named Atlanta’s first coach

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The folks running the show at Atlanta United, the MLS expansion franchise that will make its debut in 2017, are not messing around.

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According to reports out of Argentina, former Barcelona and Argentine national team manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino is expected to be named the first head coach in franchise history. One report places Martino in Atlanta at this very moment, finalizing the terms of his contract.

Martino, who’s only 53 years old, resigned as manager of Argentina in July, one week after his side fell in the final of a major international tournament for a second straight summer, the country’s third straight summer of defeat.

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MLS announced earlier this week that while the expansion draft will still be one mechanism used to populate Atlanta’s roster ahead of the 2017 season, as well as Minnesota United who will also be joining the league, each team will select just five players from the league’s current 20 teams, down from 10 in 2015.

As always with foreign coaches coming to MLS, Martino will require a right-hand man quite familiar with the intricacies of MLS’s complex roster rules and operating practices. As Patrick Vieira has shown this year, though, it’s not impossible for an “outsider” to learn the league on the fly and have success while doing so. Vieira’s New York City FC currently sit third in the Eastern Conference, two points back of Toronto FC for the top spot, after missing the playoffs altogether in the team’s expansion season last year.