Former FC Barcelona coaches square off in MLS Eastern Conference semifinals

Former FC Barcelona coaches square off in MLS Eastern Conference semifinals

In the first leg, played at Yankee Stadium, Tata Martino guided Atlanta United to a 1-0 victory over New York City Football Club, managed by Domènec Torrent

In a new example of the increasingly global influence that FC Barcelona has exerted in world football in recent years, two former Barça coaches—Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino of Atlanta United and Domènec Torrent of New York City Football Club—are going head to head in the Eastern conference semifinals of the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs.

Martino, a native of Rosario, Argentina—the same city where Leo Messi was born—managed Barça in the 2013-14 season, taking over for Tito Vilanova, who had spent the previous season battling parotid gland cancer before eventually suffering a relapse in the summer of 2013. Barça won the Spanish Super Cup in Martino’s only season as manager. Martino, who has been Atlanta United’s only head coach since it began play in 2017, has already announced that this will be his final season there.

Torrent, born and raised in the Catalan province of Girona, became Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Barça B for the reserve squad’s highly successful 2007-08 season in which they were promoted to the Second Division B. The next season, Torrent followed Guardiola to the first team, where the two remained for four years. That FC Barcelona team would go on to be considered one of the greatest sides in the history of the sport — winning all six trophies possible in 2009, Torrent's first season with the senior team, followed by a five-trophy haul in 2011, his third campaign.

Overall, Torrent helped Guardiola manage Barça to 14 titles of 19 possible during their four years at Camp Nou:

3x La Liga: 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11
2x Copa del Rey: 2008–09, 2011–12
3x Spanish Super Cup: 2009, 2010, 2011
2x UEFA Champions League: 2008–09, 2010–11
2x UEFA Super Cup: 2009, 2011
2x FIFA Club World Cup: 2009, 2011

Now, the common thread linking Martino and Torrent has come full circle. Atlanta United won the first leg of the MLS Eastern Conference semifinals, 1-0, last Monday at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. In that game, another ex-BlaugranaDavid Villa, the former Barça striker, started for NYCFC and played all 90 minutes, taking four shots. The second leg is scheduled for Sunday at 5.30pm ET at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.
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