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Tata Martino should be hired as Bruce Arena’s replacement

With Bruce Arena announcing that he has stepped down as US Men’s National Team coach, now is the time for the US to start looking for a permanent new manager. They need someone who can get them back on track and start winning games again and get the US to the World Cup in 2022 and quite honestly they need someone who can do it with some sizzle and panache. US Soccer needs to fill a Brinks truck with cash and go after one man: Tata Martino.

It should be noted here that yes Bruce Arena needs to go but he was never going to stick around for a whole additional cycle. When Jurgen Klinsmann was fired Arena was brought in to salvage the US campaign and get them to Russia 2018. He was always going to be gone after the World Cup anyway. Obviously he failed in the task given to him and now here we are wondering about who can get us back to a measure of respectability.

Tata Martino should be the first (and hopefully only) call US Soccer should make. To put it simply, the guy wins everywhere he coaches. He’s been successful at the club level and he’s been successful at the international level. That’s what the US needs now: someone who can win at the international level. With all due respect to Jurgen Klinsmann, the US has never really had a coach with the kind of pedigree and international recognition as Martino (Yes, Klinsmann helmed Germany during the 2006 World Cup but he was more famous for his exploits as a player in the 90’s). Martino has coached Paraguay and Argentina internationally and at the club level has coached Newell’s Old Boys (one of the more prestigious clubs in Argentina), is currently enjoying success with MLS expansion side Atlanta United and of course was running the show at Barcelona for a season. In addition to having a vast wealth of coaching experience, Martino’s teams are usually lauded for playing attacking and creative soccer, something the US soccer community has been begging for, for the better part of at least a decade. Furthermore, Martino is renowned for his ability to develop young talent into high quality players. Look no further than the job he’s done in a short time at Atlanta United. Not only are they playing a lot of young guys, they’re demolishing opposing teams and banging in goals left and right (even scoring a whopping seven goals against the New England Revolution a few weeks ago).

His record at Paraguay (from February 2007 to July 2011) does not really reflect the level of success he had with them. His overall record was 27-22-21 (W-L-D) which is only good for a 53% winning percentage but he got results in tournaments that mattered. He took Paraguay to the quarter-finals of the 2007 Copa America (beating the USA 3-1 along the way). He got them to the World Cup in 2010 where they went all the way to the quarter-finals before falling to eventual champions Spain (in what was a pretty wacky game that saw three penalties saved, one retaken and a winner from David Villa that hit both posts before going in). The next summer, at the 2011 Copa America, Martino guided Paraguay all the way to the final where they lost to Uruguay. Since Martino left it’s been tough sledding for Paraguay. They failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil (even though with Brazil hosting, South America got an extra team). They then finished fourth at the 2015 Copa America and failed to make it out of the group stage at the 2016 Copa America Centenario (losing to the USA 1-0 along the way). And finally, they failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Martino’s next stop internationally was his native Argentina where he managed from August of 2014 until July of 2016. His record in that time was 20-4-5 (W-L-D) good for a 77% winning percentage. He only managed Argentina through two international tournaments though and finished as runner-up in both of them: the 2015 Copa America (where they thrashed his former side Paraguay 6-1 in the semi-finals) and the 2016 Copa America Centenario (where they ran roughshod over the USA in the semi-finals to the tune of 4-0). Oddly enough both times they lost in the final on penalties against Chile (who will also be watching the World Cup at home next summer). Martino resigned shortly after the second exit against Chile, as a form of protest at the way the Argentine federation was doing things (a number of the players, including Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero briefly retired from the national team for the same reason). Without Martino at the helm, Argentina went into a tailspin and very nearly failed to qualify for the World Cup, needing a hat trick from Messi in the final game to ensure safe passage.

At the club level, Martino has been just as successful. While managing Newell’s Old Boys in his native Argentina, Martino went 35-17-18 (W-L-D) which is good for a 62% winning percentage and in his final season made it to the Primera Division final. After that he made the move to Barcelona where he amassed a record of 40-8-11 (W-L-D) for a 74% winning percentage. Now, you could make the argument that he was a failure at Barcelona because by Barcelona’s own standards, it was not a wonderful season. They did win the Supercopa de Espana that year but finished second in La Liga, were runners-up in the Copa del Reay and were dumped out of the UEFA Champions League in the quarter-finals. So after one season, he announced his resignation. His most recent venture into club soccer has been with MLS expansion side Atlanta United and people are already proclaiming it the most successful expansion side ever. At the time of the writing of this article, Atlanta sits in third in the Eastern Conference and has already secured a playoff berth. Atlanta’s record is 15-9-8 (W-L-D) for a 59% winning percentage. They got off to a bit of a bumpy start but as mentioned earlier, they have been steamrolling other teams of late. In fact, they are unbeaten in 14 of their last 16 games dating back to the end of June.

So, Martino has had success at the club level and at the international level. His teams play attacking soccer that is fun to watch and he develops youth prospects and turns them into formidable soccer players. The one kock you could hold against him is that he doesn’t really win a ton of trophies, but at this point the US isn’t in any kind of shape to be asking him to win a ton of trophies. It’s now on US Soccer to contact him and make him say no. Now, it’s possible that he could say no. He’s only been in the US for a year after all and has a good thing going in Atlanta. So in the event that he does indeed pass on the job, here are some other guys the US could turn to:

Juan Carlos Osorio – Has managed in MLS at two different clubs (Chicago tFire and New York Red Bulls). Also managed Sao Paulo in Brazil for a season. Currently the manager of Mexico, where he’s done well (aside from a 7-0 mauling at the hands of Chile in the Copa America Centenario). Guided Mexico through the Hex with just a single loss, though you get the sense that Mexico fans have never really taken a liking to him. Could help bridge the gap to the Spanish speaking community in this country.

Marcelo Bielsa – Been around the block a few times internationally with Argentina and Chile and was a serious candidate for the Mexico job before it went to Osorio. Has done well at the club level in Europe with Marseille, Lazio and now Lille.

Peter Vermes – Fans should be leery of hiring an MLS manager just because he’s an American because that opens the door to criticism about things not really changing. However, Vermes is a winner (he’s won an MLS Cup and three US Open Cups with Sporting Kansas City) and is known for being able to get the best out of his players. One drawback is that he has no international managing experience, though with no competitive games for the US until at least July of 2019 he could grow into it.

Tab Ramos – Another one that could be thought of as a “safe” hire that doesn’t really change anything. Ramos should have arguably gotten the interim job instead of Arena after Klinsmann was fired. He has worked with the US youth teams so he may be able to develop the younger players as he has worked with them before.

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  1. Sergio

    June 5, 2018 at 9:28 am

    Argentinean coaches are the best in the world known for making mediocre teams into great teams we would more than benefit with tata as coach. Besides the mls league is very soft compared to the argentinean league tata martino knows a lot more than vermes on that

    • Lawrence Dockery

      June 6, 2018 at 11:28 am

      I want Tata badly. If I were US Soccer, I would offer him $5 million a year to coach the USMNT. Dude gets results in international tournaments that matter. He wins a lot of games at the club level. That’s what we need at this point.

  2. Adolfo

    October 14, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Wynalda? How insane is that? A guy who has never coached! Why not Coby Jones? Throw in landon too….. insanity! Tata martino is the guy who makes sense of all the names I’ve heard. The U.S. does not have a soccer identity. We need someone who can implement a style, possession football! Martino coached Barcelona! He coached Argentina! He won two Copa libertadores…. he’s a winner. Argentina coaches are the best in the world. Simeone… pochetino… who transformed Chilean football? bielsa… who transformed Columbian football? Bekerman. Who is taking Peru to the world cup for the 1st time in 4 decades? Look it up and learn. … and I’m not Argentinian, by the way… Spanish American. Go USA

    • R.O

      October 14, 2017 at 6:56 pm

      Wynalda has coached, yes it’s 2nd & 3rd./4th division teams. I believe he has been blackballed by USSF/MLS for speaking out against system. Have you every read some of the interviews on his coaching philosophy and player development/management? If not, google it. Has been talking about it for 7 plus years.

      Again, I understand many people don’t like him due to his TV analysis and commentary style/methods (whatever you want to call it) but that has nothing to do with coaching ability.

      • Lawrence Dockery

        October 16, 2017 at 11:12 am

        Wynalda has coached a few teams from random beer leagues. If he takes some sort of position with US Soccer it should be as President, not as manager.

        • R.O

          October 16, 2017 at 2:10 pm

          If he doesn’t run for USSF Prez or win that election & he’s not Manager of USMNT, then I feel he would make a good USSF Technical Director.

  3. R.O

    October 14, 2017 at 10:44 am

    Peter Vermes, no sorry – same old – same old. In all the articles and posts I’ve read, little to no mention of Eric Wynalda. People may not like his commentary style or persona on TV but I believe he would be a good choice to lead USMNT. Played in 3 WC, played in Germany & LigaMX. Understands the game, tactics and player management. Has the strong personality needed as a Nat’l team Manager.

    Tata Martino, maybe. So far he’s adapted well to MLS, best so far of any non US Manager. I believe that he has had one advantage the others didn’t – Carlos Bocanegra as technical director. Bocanegra has aided Martino in transition to uniqueness of MLS.

    Arsene Wenger – please no. Unless everyone wants to see “Wenger Out” signs all over US and at USMNT games.

    • Jim

      October 14, 2017 at 3:32 pm

      If it means no more Wynalda on Bundesliga broadcasts I’m all for it!

    • Lawrence Dockery

      October 15, 2017 at 10:05 pm

      Wynalda for USSF President.

      • David

        October 16, 2017 at 1:39 pm

        Hearing Wynalda on the radio last week, it sounds like he will be running for USSF President.

  4. Randy

    October 14, 2017 at 9:58 am

    The problem with PV is he is a horrible game manager. He is stubborn too. He can be frustrating at times.

    • Lawrence Dockery

      October 16, 2017 at 11:10 am

      Stubborn seems to be the theme with US Soccer.

  5. David

    October 13, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    My first choice is Tata Martino. Second would be Juan Carlos Osorio. I know many people have been throwing around Tab Ramos the last few days but I think he would be a terrible choice. He has no international experience and he really hasn’t always been successful at the youth level. I would consider Thomas Tuchel, but I doubt he would even be interested in the job.

    • Santiago1314

      October 13, 2017 at 7:12 pm

      Tab would make a Great assistant to Vermes…Also get Klopas and Harkes to help out… The Class of 88, should take over this Program

      • Lawrence Dockery

        October 16, 2017 at 11:11 am

        Really? Frank Klopas? No. Just, no.

    • San

      October 15, 2017 at 6:42 pm

      As an Arsenal and USA fan, Wenger to USA would be hilarious

    • Lawrence Dockery

      October 16, 2017 at 11:10 am

      Isn’t that basically what was laid out in the article? Well, with the exception of Tuchel. That would be an interesting hire but he wouldn’t take the job.

  6. Zach

    October 13, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    I may get crucified for this suggestion considering recent collapses, but I think Arsene Wenger would make a great manager for USMNT. He is recognized around the world and has scouting connections around the world, he was consistent in finishing in top 4 for like 15 years straight, even if they slipped multiple times in CL and EPL title, and he has already been asked multiple times to coach England. Just my two cents

    • Lawrence Dockery

      October 13, 2017 at 4:54 pm

      Hmm. I don’t think he’s going to voluntarily leave Arsenal and he’s never had any international managerial experience. If he left Arsenal to get into the international game the only place I could see him managing is France but he hasn’t done that yet so no reason to think he will in the future.

  7. SilverRey

    October 13, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Vermes would be pretty successful I think, but in a pragmatic way. I really wouldn’t mind either Martino or Osario taking over – I think they both would do well, especially taking in their MLS experience as a bonus from a foreign coach perspective. I’m not as crazy about Ramos taking over, he’s a decent coach but has made weird line-up choices along the way and lacks somewhat in tactics (and he’s Godfather to Sunil’s daughter). I would rather have him continue in his current position.

    • Lawrence Dockery

      October 13, 2017 at 2:33 pm

      Yeah if Ramos gets in there it would probably only be an interim gig until after the World Cup anyway. If anything I would promote him to running the U-23’s as getting to the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020 is vital.

    • Santiago1314

      October 13, 2017 at 7:08 pm

      Peter Vermes would be Best…He has actually Played in these 3rd World Stadiums and Overseas…And he gets the most out of the Talent in his Squad…He makes Lemonade out of Lemons…and that is going to be the Job…Because we are Never going to have 22 players on the USA Roster that can Match the Germans or Brazilians or Spaniards…But neither do 95% of the National Teams out there…And on any Given day…Anyone can be beaten.!!!

      • Lawrence Dockery

        October 16, 2017 at 11:09 am

        Martino would be the best, hence the article. If US Soccer absolutely feels like they have to go with an American, MLS coach, Vermes would be the best bet. He wins trophies. An MLS Cup and three US Open Cups all of which have come in the last five seasons.

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