Gabriel Heinze was fired on July 18, after only half a season in charge of Atlanta United. The former Real Madrid and Manchester United player’s poor start to the season with a 2-4-7 record along with his feud with star striker Josef Martinez didn’t sit well with Atlanta’s front office. In addition, just after he was fired, news came out that the MLS Players Association filed grievances on behalf of the Atlanta United players related to violations that Heinze committed. Among these violations were not having a practice schedule posted in advance, which made players essentially “on call” for practice. He did not give the players enough days off as required by the CBA. The CBA requires that players be given eight days off over an eight-week period along with players not being able to go more than 14 consecutive days without a day off. Heinze also refused to give players water during practice, which there had been rumors of him doing at his previous club, Velez Sarsfield.
These grievances were filed around the time that Heinze was fired. A month later now, the grievances were found to be true. The players will be compensated for the denial of the days off they were required to take. According to an ESPN article, “Atlanta will add money to the players' end-of-year bonus pool, and the players will be compensated for the extra days from those funds. The players will also get an additional two days off, to be granted prior to the end of the season.” It is unknown how many consecutive days the players were forced to practice without a day off. Nothing was mentioned about the refusal of water breaks and not giving the players a practice schedule in advance.
Atlanta United have enjoyed success since coming into MLS in 2017. In just their second season, they were able to capture the MLS Cup under the current Mexico national team head coach, Tata Martino. Josef Martinez was their star talisman for the MLS Cup and his feud with Gabriel Heinze this season surely played a role in his firing. Since Tata Martino has left, Atlanta United haven’t returned to that glory. Under previous manager, Frank De Boer, they struggled and didn’t have a clear play style. De Boer was sacked and later was appointed manager of Netherlands for this summer’s Euros. He was later fired by Holland following the Euros after a mediocre performance in the tournament. Atlanta United front office believed that Heinze was the man to try to get them back in contention for the MLS Cup, but after only half a season that is not the case. They now turn to former Seattle Sounders assistant, Gonzalo Pineda, to try to steer the team back in the right direction as they currently sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.