Atlanta United dismissed first-year coach Gabriel Heinze on Sunday after just 13 matches with the franchise.
Atlanta United has a highly disappointing 2-4-7 record this season. Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution marked the fourth time the team has been shut out in the past five matches.
“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,” Atlanta United president Darren Eales said in a statement. “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.”
Assistant coach Rob Valentino will take over on an interim bases. The 35-year-old Valentino was in his third season as an assistant for the MLS club.
During a video press conference later Sunday, Eales admitted that the hiring of Heinze didn’t work out.
“The reality is this happens throughout the world of sports,” Eales said. “Some managers will fit at certain clubs and some won’t fit. You don’t know until they are in the club.”
Atlanta United is winless in eight matches (0-3-5) since beating CF Montreal on May 15.
The Five Stripes (13 points) are in 10th place in the 14-team Eastern Conference. They have scored just 13 goals.
Former MLS MVP Josef Martinez reportedly clashed with the 43-year-old Heinze and has just two goals in seven matches.
However, Eales said the rift didn’t “play a factor” in the decision to part ways with Heinze.
“That was two big personalities. You get that in soccer. You get that sort of clash,” Eales said. “Josef and Gabi had a chat yesterday, they’re actually training today.
“Josef was doing full training today here at the training ground. So that was not something to do with the decision we made. Obviously the timings overlapped, but that wasn’t a factor.”
There also were reports that Heinze was feuding with the front office. Technical director Carlos Bocanegra was hesitant to discuss the topic.
“I don’t think there was anything, you know, odd or strange about that,” Bocanegra said. “As far as some of the issues that were raised or that have come to our attention, I’m not going to go into detail here. That’s just not how we are. Again, out of respect for Gabi.”
Atlanta United visits FC Cincinnati on Wednesday.
--Field Level Media