For the second time in a month, Atlanta United manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino had to deny reports that he was set to leave Atlanta United for another national team position.
This week, reports emerged that Martino was weighing his options between extending his deal with Atlanta United or taking either the Mexico National Team or Argentine National Team jobs, both of which are open, still months after the World Cup was completed. Martino’s contract with Atlants ends at the end of the season and he’s reportedly told the team’s front office that he’ll decide his future by Monday, though that date is fluid.
While Martino has continued to deny the reports and states his focus lies solely on this weekend’s top-of-the-table clash with the New York Red Bulls, clearly where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Perhaps Martino’s representatives are speaking to the Mexico and Argentina FAs, or perhaps he’s looking to leverage his MLS success into another big-time national team position. Martino of course coached Argentina from 2014-2016, leaving after the final defeat in the 2016 Copa America Centenario in the U.S.
Either way, we’ll know more next week when Martino is supposed to make an announcement. Martino’s arrival in the first place was huge for MLS’ legitimacy worldwide – does Josef Martinez, Miguel Almiron or Tito Villalba make the move to MLS without him? – but losing him may be even bigger, just as Atlanta United is on the precipice of making a deep run in the playoffs. Even if Martino announces he is leaving but stays through the end of the season, it’s unlikely a coach of his pedigree will come right in and replace him, even with Atlanta’s vast budget. There have been rumors that another Argentine, former Albiceleste and Chile boss Jorge Sampaoli would take over, but it’s not clear whether these rumors are grounded in any possible outcome.
For Atlanta United – and perhaps the U.S. Men’s National Team’s sake -, keeping Martino at home in Atlanta is the best possible outcome.
Poetic justice, put it in a Song.
Haiti’s Djimy Alexis made up for his early own goal by scoring a deserved winner as Haiti won Group B of the Gold Cup with an upset of Costa Rica on Monday.
[ ROUNDUPS: AFCON | Copa America ]
Los Ticos got everything they could handle from the upstart Gombey Warriors, who are now 3-0 on the tournament, and the World Cup mainstays tossed aside their early lead to meet Mexico in the quarterfinals.
Haiti will challenge Canada in the quarters, guaranteeing the semifinals an intriguing participant.
An early own goal had Costa Rica in control, but Duckens Nason’ 16th international goal was a part of a hard charge from the Haitians in the second half.
The other match saw Bermuda earn a 2-0 win over Nicaragua via goals from Lejuan Simmons and QPR’s Nakhi Wells. That gives the Gombey Warriors a 1-2 record while dropping Nicaragua to 0-3.
Bermuda was ranked 174th by FIFA to Nicaragua’s 129, but that will certainly change next month.
The Africa Cup of Nations said hello to six more competitors on Monday, with a thrilling goal amongst the eight tallied across the competitions in Egypt.
[ MORE: Copa America roundup ]
Mali 4-1 Mauritania
Two different men named Adama Traore — neither of them the Wolves winger — joined Moussa Marega on the score sheet but it’s difficult to describe the class and small margins that defined the tournament’s goal of the day.
Sporting Lisbon’s Abdoulay Diaby somehow got this shot off through two defenders and into the upper reaches of the goal to open the scoring in the three-goal win for Mali, which is having some summer when you take into account the U-20 World Cup.
Ivory Coast 1-0 South Africa
There were only 13 total attempts in the game, and Aston Villa’s Jonathan Kodija scored the lone goal of a tournament opening win for Les Elephants.
Tunisia 1-1 Angola
A draw was probably fair, as Youssef Msakni’s first half penalty was met by Djalma Campos’ late goal to split the spoils in Group E.
Ecuador and Japan drew to allow Paraguay to sew up the final knockout round spot, sending Miguel Almiron and Co. into a match-up with Brazil.
[ MORE: Johannsson to MLS? ]
And Uruguay rode Edinson Cavani’s goal into the other side of the bracket, moving ahead of Chile in a tight match.
Ecuador 1-1 Japan
There was a lot to like in a match with 30-plus shots and the ultimate prize of a match-up with Brazil on Thursday in Porto Alegre.
Shoya Nakajima put the Asian side ahead a quarter-hour into the match, but Angel Mena provided an equalizer before halftime to put both sides in danger of failure to reach the knockout rounds.
Chile 0-1 Uruguay
Cavani scored for the second time this tournament as Uruguay claimed first place in Group A and a knockout round meeting with Peru.
Cavani’s deftly flicked header of a Jonathan Rodriguez pass pushed Uruguay above Chile, which had won both of its group matches and now meets Colombia on Friday.
Knockout round schedule
Brazil v. Paraguay
Venezuela v. Argentina
Colombia v. Chile
Uruguay v. Peru
Brazil/Paraguay v. Venezuela/Argentina
Colombia/Chile v. Uruguay/Peru
Third place playoff
Norwich City has added a new star striker to a unit which produced 93 goals in the Championship last season.
Josip Drmic will join Swiss national teammate Timm Klose with the Canaries for the next three seasons, hoping to bring his Bundesliga and international experience to a Premier League safety campaign.
[ MORE: Johannsson to MLS? ]
Drmic turns 27 next month, and scored two goals in five appearances for Borussia Monchengladbach last season. He has 31 goals and seven assists in 107 Bundesliga appearances between Gladbach, Hamburger SV, Bayer Leverkusen, and Nurnberg.
Coach Daniel Farke got 30 goals from target forward Teemu Pukki, who plays a similar role to Drmic and has plenty of top flight experience with Celtic and Schalke amongst others.
Drmic can also operate on the wing, usually left over right, and has featured in both the 2014 and 2018 World Cup. From Canaries.co.uk:
“I’m going to do everything and give 100% on the pitch. I will be ready to give everything for the club. My job is scoring but I also want to help my team and help us be successful.
“When I first came to Norwich, the first thing I noticed was how kind everybody was. It’s given me a lot of positive energy and I’m excited to see what happens.”
Between Pukki and Drmic, Norwich can have faith that its well-prepared to have an answer up top.