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Tata Martino given a “C-”


Argentina v Bolivia: Group D - Copa America Centenario Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Fox Soccer graded each MLS’ teams coaching situation.

Their grade for Atlanta United’s Tata Martino was... not something you’d want to see on a report card:

While this certainly reads more like an “incomplete” or a “n/a”, we’ll pretend the teacher has the authority to write this down on the report card.

Is it a fair grade? No, of course not.

  • “Coaching Lionel Messi” might not prepare Tata Martino for all of the quirks and travel strain of MLS, but it did build a reputation that has enabled Atlanta United to sign several talented players. We’ll circle back to that (or maybe you will).
  • “Foreign coaches don’t always do so well in MLS” and neither do most American coaches. As always, these things tend to be reliant on the club and how willing a person is able to adjust to being a head coach. Patrick Vieira, a “foreign coach”, isn’t a wizard. He had a clear, competent plan and New York City FC supported his ambitions.
  • “Martino has been learning English to be ready for the job” shouldn’t be something that creates doubt. Wouldn’t it be worse if he came here and refused to learn English? I don’t see how a coach learning a new language to better communicate with his team and adjust to American life is considered a negative. And even if he chose to continue speaking Spanish (and only Spanish), would it be that much of a problem? He wouldn’t be the first coach to speak a different language than the majority of his players.
  • “Martino is undoubtedly helping them attract players”. Yes, he is. Almost like he has an international reputation and the respect of Lionel Messi or something.
  • “Getting the day-to-day management right once the season starts is a huge question mark.” I’m sure the man who has managed ten clubs and two countries after a 17-year professional playing career will not struggle with day-to-day management. But if that is a potential issue, perhaps wait for him to make a mistake before assigning a grade based upon imagined failures.

There’s an old expression “Cs get degrees”. If Martino (a “C”) is able to navigate through the difficult waters of MLS and lead Atlanta to a playoff spot in its first two seasons, then I think everyone will take that.