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Tata Martino’s love affair with Atlanta’s soccer fans did not have to final lengthy to have that means.

On Thursday, Atlanta United’s coach expressed his appreciation for the fans’ record-breaking help as his group ready for Saturday’s MLS Cup last in opposition to the Portland Timbers.

“First I simply need to say thanks to Atlanta for letting me take part from the very starting within the beginning of this new membership,” Martino mentioned by means of a translator.

Martino’s management performed a lead position in Atlanta’s meteoric rise as an MLS energy. Led by MLS MVP Josef Martinez, Atlanta United is attempting to win the MLS title in solely its second season as an enlargement franchise.

Alongside the best way, Atlanta has set MLS attendance data for a single recreation and season. One other report is anticipated Saturday when a crowd of greater than 70,000 is anticipated to pack Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Atlanta United set a single-game attendance report of 72,243 in opposition to Seattle on July 15.

Martino was voted MLS coach of the yr after saying this might be his last season. Saturday can be his farewell to Atlanta fans, abandoning a legacy that can be tough for his successor to match. The previous Barcelona and Argentina supervisor reportedly is headed to Mexico’s nationwide group.

Veteran midfielder Jeff Larentowicz mentioned Martino has been the inspiration of the brand new franchise.

“He is the chief, he is the pillar within the center,” Larentowicz mentioned Thursday.

“His message from Day 1 has been the identical. When he speaks, we pay attention. That is actually it. With out getting too technical, he is the boss. What he says goes, and we have all purchased in.”

Larentowicz mentioned Martino won instantaneous respect, whilst a newcomer to the MLS, by means of his “information of the sport.”

“His administration and magnificence is at occasions uncompromising however I believe it is all the time finest for the group,” Larentowicz mentioned. “His capability to sit down after having by no means coached within the MLS and to break down a group you’ve got performed in opposition to one million occasions, and he tells you one thing you’ve got by no means seen earlier than.”

Atlanta fans honored Martino with a towering, statue-like tribute that confirmed the coach in his trademark pose, his arms crossed and a sweater tied over his shoulders. “El Tata” was written on the bottom.

“My first response was to smile as a result of I believed it was very good and affectionate,” Martino mentioned Thursday, smiling.

“I am all the time somebody to spotlight respect. Apart from the quantity of affection I have been proven from the fans, the quantity of affection they’ve proven me and proceed to present, that they all the time will present me, that feeling is mutual. Apart from that affection, I worth respect quite a bit and it has all the time been a mutual respect ever since I got here to Atlanta between myself and the fan base.”

Gamers say Martino has not made this Cup last about him. There’s ample incentive with out difficult gamers to win one for the coach.

“For us, a very powerful factor is we’re very excited to play this recreation in entrance of our dwelling fans and with all of the emotion and hype going into this match,” Martino mentioned. “We view it as our reward for this season but additionally these two years of laborious work we have put in.”



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