Atlanta United have sacked head coach Gabriel Heinze after a disappointing start to the MLS season.
Heinze was only appointed seven month ago, following spells with Argentinos Juniors and Velez Sarsfield in Argentina. Atlanta won just two of their 13 MLS games during his tenure. This record leaves them 10th in the Eastern Conference, four points adrift of the playoff spots having played one more game than seventh placed New York City.
According to a club statement, Heinze’s sacking was down to: “A variety of issues relating to the day-to-day leadership of the team.”
President Darren Eales added: “This was certainly not a decision we wanted to make at this point in our season, but it was the right one for the club. Gabi is a talented coach and is undeniably passionate about his craft and the sport of soccer. We are grateful to him for his service; and wish him all the best in the future.”
Heinze’s time in charge was riddled with off-field controversy. His relationship with star man Josef Martinez was strained with the 2018 MLS MVP asked to train away from the rest of the squad in recent weeks.
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Martinez is not the only Atlanta player to have problems with Heinze. Prior to their opening game of the MLS season, a 0-0 draw with Orlando City, the squad reported Heinze to the MLS Players Association for excessive training hours. According to Doug Roberson, the Argentine continued to work his players hard after this, scheduling two sessions per day during the recent international break.
Assistant coach Rob Valentino is set to take over from Heinze on an interim basis. Atlanta’s front office will be hoping to get their next appointment right as their fortunes have dipped significantly since the departure of MLS winning manager Tata Martino.