ATLANTA — Atlanta United have fired coach Gabriel Heinze, the team announced on Sunday.
It comes following Saturday's 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the team's eighth straight match without a win.
A reported rift between Heinze and star striker Josef Martinez also emerged, with Martinez away from the team this week despite not having any injury issue.
“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,” said Atlanta United President Darren Eales. “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.”
Heinze, a former star player with the Argentina national team and clubs such as Real Madrid, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain, lasted just 17 total matches with United.
He compiled a 2-4-7 record in 13 MLS matches, and the team is currently 10th in the Eastern Conference out of 14 teams with 13 points.
In a release, the team said "a variety of issues relating to the day-to-day leadership of the team led the club to this decision."
Assistant coach Rob Valentino will take over head coaching duties in an interim role.
Heinze arrived in Atlanta with high promise, coming off successful stints managing in his native Argentina - including a third-place finish last season for Vélez Sarsfield.
Eales described Heinze when he arrived as "one of the top coaches in South American soccer" and said his "playing philosophy and commitment to youth development closely align with our ideas at Atlanta United."
The team's vice president and technical director, Carlos Bocanegra, promised Heinze would bring an "aggressive, attack minded style of play" that fans had pined for following the two-year coaching run of Frank De Boer - who brought a much more conservative style to the club.
But Heinze did not deliver - United have muddled through a series of low-scoring draws and losses. Their 13 goals are third-fewest in MLS.
The last the team scored more than one goal in a win was April 24.
Heinze brought a headstrong reputation to Atlanta - he was famously referred to by his own Manchester United teammate Roy Keane (somewhat endearingly) as a "nasty f***er."
But that ultimately wore thin with Martinez, the team's most important player.
With the Venezuelan star training away from the club this week, Heinze cryptically said it was "my decision that he train away form the team" and that he would "continue to train on his own."
"I have my reasons and I’m very clear on those reasons,” he told reporters, without detailing them.
it wore thin with the fan base, too - they regularly booed throughout Saturday's loss and began chanting in support of Martinez when the game hit the seven-minute mark, in honor of his jersey No. 7.