With Inter Miami out of the playoffs

Tata Martino in a match against Inter Miami on September 27. (Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

Gerardo Tata Martino has added a new debacle to his latest resume. Inter Miami’s technical director was unable to change the club’s inactivity and was left with no mathematical options to approach the playoffs. Last Saturday’s defeat against Cincinnati FC (1-0) eliminated Lionel Messi’s team from the fight for the league title. Major League Soccer (MLS). After the progress of the last couple of months, this is a painfully missed opportunity. KBut, precisely, that progress was due to Messi’s presence, not Martino’s.

After his tumultuous time with the Mexican national team, which was eliminated in the group stage at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Martino has a great opportunity to restore his prestige as an elite coach. But that impression began to fade from his debut, when he lost 3-0 against a surprising St. Louis City. Six days later, Messi’s winning streak ended with his debut and a League Cup crown and a runner-up finish in the US Open Cup.

However, the upsurge in spirits was artificial and attributed entirely to Messi. Without him on the field, with no answer on the Inter Miami bench, Martino was completely overwhelmed by the need to fight against the clock for a place in the playoffs. On September 16, Inter Miami’s first game without Messi saw them lose 5–2 against Atlanta United (a month earlier, they won the League Cup and with Messi, they won 4–0.

It’s not unusual for Inter Miami to go through this transition in Messi’s absence. What is more worrying is that none of the solutions needed to avoid such an announced collapse are off the bench. – In the end they could not even with him.. Martino was sworn in at the end of June and began working in mid-July. For almost three months, he could not develop the necessary mechanisms in the team to learn how to work without Messi. And there is no dearth of tools. Reinforcements arrived to straighten the path, at least, not so quickly removed.

Martino, after all, had great credit when he arrived in MLS: He knows the league well and was a champion with Atlanta in 2018. There were many scenes similar to that first experience. When he first arrived in MLS, in 2017, Martino resigned from the Argentina national team, after months of great tension at the federal level – and his results were less than inspiring, as he lost two Copa America finals. But his team had a limited style for him.

In the two years he led Atalanta, the debutant franchise, Martino led a new, attractive team that showed fearless and attacking football. In his first year, he finished fourth and was eliminated in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The next year, they had no competition. They had a solid regular season that left them in second place in the conference and they outscored their playoff rivals until they were crowned champions. That second wind as a coach, precisely, opened the door to the Mexican national team for Martino. He seemed to redeem himself in the MLS, although his time in Mexico was quiet after that.

And the process now seemed to repeat itself. An eventful path through a national team and a return to MLS, re-establishing himself as a high-flying technical director. It cannot be. Messidependencia won against Martino and his talents. The alibi that he didn’t start the tournament still works for him — his arm hasn’t made serious changes in 2023, along with Miami’s other coaches, Neville and Morales. Now comes the planning for 2024 and there will be no excuses. Ahead of Martino is a train that will never pass again.

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Eden Hayes

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