Settled in with DC United, Yamil Asad still admires former coach Martino

Yamil Asad - D.C. United - celebrates his goal vs. Orlando City

WASHINGTON -- Leaving Atlanta United has done little to diminish Yamil Asad’s reverence for Five Stripes manager Gerardo "Tata" Martino.

In fact, he has “no doubt” Martino would succeed if he found himself as the next US men's national team coach.

Asad and D.C. United visit Atlanta for a second time on Saturday (3:30 pm ET | Univision, Twitter - Full TV & Streaming Info), with the midfielder fresh off scoring a career-high eighth goal that doubled as the first in Audi Field history. It was also voted AT&T Goal of the Week for Week 20.

Yet amid a strong season in new surroundings, the 23-year-old Argentine has nothing but praise for his previous boss, one of his home country’s most accomplished managers.

“Having played for him was a really great honor,” Asad said Thursday through an interpreter. “I’m still thankful for him and his staff for the opportunity that he gave me, and just the way that he treated not only myself but the whole team and all the players. Obviously, it’s a little different now. But I would always choose to play for his team.”

Martino has coached the Paraguay and Argentina national teams, and also had a year-long stint in charge of FC Barcelona. With the US national team job still without a long-term solution, some have suggested Martino as a potential candidate.

“I don’t have any doubts that he could do a great job coaching wherever he goes,” Asad said of the idea. “Obviously right now he’s in Atlanta, and he’s focused on Atlanta and going off of that success. But again, I don’t have to clarify that, he’s a great coach, and I’m sure he’ll do great and be successful wherever he goes.”

Asad has made his own success since coming to MLS. He was Atlanta’s second-leading assist contributor in 2017, and in a slightly more advanced role is now tied for D.C.’s scoring lead with Darren Mattocks.

His goal on Saturday wasn't his first historic strike in MLS, as he also scored Atlanta United’s first ever MLS goal last season.

"I honestly never thought I’d score a goal the first goal in a club’s history,” Asad said. “I never thought I would score the first goal in a stadium’s history. Obviously, they are moments that came to me, and I’m just trying to enjoy it."

Said D.C. coach Ben Olsen: “He just makes plays. He just understands the moment.”

Despite his first return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in D.C.’s 3-1 loss in March, Asad says the second time around won’t necessarily feel more normal.

“It’s always going to be a little strange,” Asad said. “But now with this team, compared to that first game, we’re going into the game with more confidence, with a different energy, different preparation. So I’m confident about that.”