How Tata Martino and Gregg Berhalter run their teams, from the players who lived through it – The Athletic

As the Columbus Crew poured onto the field to celebrate and the more than 67,000 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium began to process the painful end of Atlanta United’s inaugural season, Gregg Berhalter and Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino strode into midfield. for a hug after the game.

Berhalter’s Crew had just outlasted Martino’s home side in a remarkable opening game of the 2017 MLS Cup playoffs – an electric back-and-forth, scoreless game with a total of 41 shots, several thumps from the woodwork, a couple of disallowed goals and, finally, Columbus goalkeeper Zack Steffen saved two penalties to give the Crew a shootout victory.

It wasn’t the first time these two coaches faced each other, and it wouldn’t be the last. But this encounter was particularly poignant. While the crew partied and Atlanta wondered what could have been, Berhalter and Martino moved away from the madness for a show of genuine respect. After a quick hug from his brother, the more established Martino looked up at the younger Berhalter, patted him on the chest, grabbed him by the shoulder and spoke a few words, giving him a remorseful smile. It’s unclear what exactly the former Barcelona and Argentina manager said, but Martino’s body language and Berhalter’s radiant face paint a clear enough picture. This wasn’t just fleeting sportsmanship – this was a moment of genuine affection between two of the top coaches in MLS at the time.

“I think that was kind of a contest that sealed that Tata really had respect for Gregg,” said Crew defender Josh Williams, who played under Berhalter in Columbus in 2014 and again in 2017 and 2018. “That was a big game in that. meaning match up.”

Since then there have been many more. Both coaches left MLS just over a year after that playoff game, with Berhalter taking over the US

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