Only three months into his stay in the Dirty South, Gabriel Heinze is already the former Head Coach of Atlanta United following his sacking. Assistant Coach Rob Valentino will take over on an interim basis until the team makes a permanent hire.
Appointed Head Coach of Atlanta on December 18, 2020, much like his predecessor Frank de Boer, Heinze’s tenure was marred with disappointments.
When Atlanta brought Heinze in from Vélez Sarsfield to be the third Head Coach in franchise history, they hoped the Argentine could restore the club’s glory swiftly found upon joining Major League Soccer. Instead, it turned out to be another mistake in their attempt to replace Gerardo “Tata” Martino who left following the teams 2018 MLS Cup triumph in their second season.
Since then the Five-Stripes have a record of 26W-29L-35D, including just two wins from this season.
Heinze’s squad displayed good defensive performances but never found any offensive rhythm, scoring only 13 goals from his 13 games. Due to injuries and unforeseen circumstances, Heinze was constantly shifting his tactics, deploying a 4-3-3, 3-4-3, and 4-4-2 during his brief tenure.
Atlanta relieves the former Argentina international off the heels of a 1-0 defeat to the New England Revolution, their third time being shut over the last four games. A stretch that also includes three losses.
Nail in the Coffin
Last season Atlanta averaged the same dismal amount of goals per game after netting just 23 goals from 23 games. The return of striker Josef Martínez was meant to boost Atlanta’s attack, perhaps gradually as he returned from a torn ACL. Ultimately he and the coach never saw eye to eye.
Recently Heinze admitted to the press he has had Martínez train away from the team, an odd move for a club struggling for goals.
Following the loss to New England, the 43-year old reversed course and welcomed the Venezuelan back, but the move was too late. With a disgruntled team icon and not many points, Atlanta fired Heinze after 13 games and begins another coaching search.
Will the third time be the charm for Atlanta United as they try to fill the shoes of Tata? Or will we see more of the same from a front office that has grown more suspect since their title three years ago?