Atlanta United have named Gonzalo Pineda as their next head coach, the club announced Thursday. Pineda, who was an assistant with the Seattle Sounders, signed a contract through the 2024 season.
Rob Valentino, who was serving as interim head coach, will remain on Pineda's staff. Goalkeeping coach Liam Curran remains as well, while Pineda has brought on Diego de la Torre as an assistant. Valentino will continue to serve as interim coach for the club’s next two games before Pineda takes the reins.
Pineda was amid his fifth season as an assistant under Brian Schmetzer, where he helped fuel Seattle's great success. He helped guide the Western Conference powerhouse to three MLS Cup trips, highlighted by a 2019 title and runner-up finishes in both 2017 and 2020.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Gonzalo as the head coach of Atlanta United,” club president Darren Eales said in a release. “Building off an illustrious international playing career, Gonzalo joined Seattle’s coaching staff and played an integral role in the club’s success over the last few years. He has a thorough understanding of MLS and has proven to be one of the top assistants in the league. He is a great fit for our club from a cultural and technical perspective, and we’re excited to have a long-term commitment in place.”
A former Mexico national team midfielder, Pineda spent almost his entire playing career in Liga MX, most famously with Pumas and Chivas Guadalajara. Pineda spent the last two seasons of his playing career with Seattle, notching four goals and nine assists across 56 MLS games. The 38-year-old interviewed for D.C. United's coaching vacancy this past winter, a spot that Hernan Losada eventually filled.
“This is truly the opportunity of a lifetime and I’m really excited to become Atlanta United’s head coach,” Pineda said in a release. “I want to thank Arthur Blank, Steve Cannon, as well as Darren and Carlos for entrusting me in this position. I’m arriving to a club that already has a system in place to help the players and coaching staff deliver good results for the supporters. I’m looking forward to arriving in Atlanta and meeting with everyone at the club.”
In mid-July, Atlanta parted ways with Gabriel Heinze just 13 MLS games into his first season in charge. Pineda is their third full-time head coach since 2020, when the club parted ways with Frank de Boer after last summer's MLS is Back Tournament.
The Five Stripes currently sit 10th in the Eastern Conference standings with 18 points after 18 games. They're six points below the East's seventh and final playoff place.
Pineda will be given a boost immediately, as the club added Brazilian winger Luiz Araujo to a Designated Player deal before the Secondary Transfer Window closed last week. Araujo joins star striker Josef Martinez, attacking midfielder Ezequiel Barco, defensive midfielder Santiago Sosa and center back Miles Robinson as key players in the squad.
Atlanta won MLS Cup in 2018 (under Tata Martino), then US Open Cup and Campeones Cup in 2019 (under De Boer), but have fallen on hard times over the past two seasons. Pineda is the first head coach appointed by Atlanta with previous MLS experience.