Gabriel Heinze - Marseille - playing days

Atlanta United are “one step away” from landing Gabriel Heinze as their next head coach, according to a joint report from Argentina-based journalists Cesar Luis Merlo and Hugo Balassone.

Heinze was recently in charge of Velez Sarsfield for three years, though chose to depart after the 2019-20 season. He also had stints atop Godoy Cruz and Argentinos Juniors before taking charge of the Primera Division side.

Heinze, 42, is from Argentina, just like former Atlanta United manager Tata Martino. Martino, who now leads Mexico’s national team, departed the Five Stripes after the club’s MLS Cup-winning season in 2018.

Atlanta United are coming off their worst season since entering MLS in 2017, missing the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and mutually agreeing to part ways with Frank de Boer in late July after the MLS is Back Tournament. De Boer, who’s now head coach of the Dutch national team, was brought in after Martino departed and found mixed results. The club won U.S. Open Cup and Campeones Cup titles in 2019, but issues arose. Stephen Glass took over for the remainder of the 2020 season on an interim basis, and a search for a permanent replacement has been ongoing.

Heinze would check a lot of boxes for Atlanta United, with the former defender carrying serious name recognition in South America and being available after he departed Velez Sarsfield in his native Argentina. Just like Martino, Heinze was also influenced by now-Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa. 

During his playing days, Heinze competed for storied European clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Marseille and AS Roma. He was also capped 73 times by Argentina’s national team.

Atlanta United are one of four MLS teams in search of a head coach. The LA Galaxy and D.C. United ended the 2020 season in that position, while Toronto FC then joined them when Greg Vanney unexpectedly departed as head coach.