Djimi Traore

Djimi Traore is pursuing a leadership role at a top-flight European club, thus bringing an end to his time as a Seattle Sounders assistant coach, the club announced Thursday. The exact destination is expected to be announced soon.

The news emerged as fellow ex-Sounders assistant coach Gonzalo Pineda departs to become Atlanta United's new head coach.

"While this is a day I thought may happen, it is not easy to say goodbye to such accomplished players like Djimi and Gonzo, who transformed stellar playing careers into becoming two of the best young coaches in MLS," Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said in a release. "I could not be happier for the new opportunities in front of them. They have been essential pieces of our club’s success, both on and off the pitch. I have so much respect for their effort and dedication to help this club achieve success. I know they will be successful in the next chapter of their coaching careers.”

Traore joined the Sounders' coaching staff ahead of their 2016 season after playing with the team in 2013 and 2014, followed by a stint as a mentor for the Sounders' USL affiliate in 2015. Traore's pro career include 141 appearances for Liverpool between 1996 and 2006, as well as stops at Lens, Charlton Athletic, Portsmouth, Monaco and Marseille.

Traore appeared in 50 matches for the Sounders across all competitions, including 42 league matches. Traore and Pineda were teammates on the 2014 team that won both the Supporters’ Shield and US Open Cup.

“It is with heavy heart that I leave Seattle, a city that has treated me like one of its own since I joined Sounders FC in 2013,” Traore said in a release. “I’d like to thank every teammate, coach and staff member over the years for making me a better professional. I have been fortunate to work for the best coach in MLS, and I learned so much from Brian and my fellow assistant coaches. This next opportunity is one I could not pass up, as it will allow me to further develop my professional skillset in new and exciting ways. Seattle will always be a second home to me, and I wish everyone in this organization the best going forward. Thank you to everyone in this city that welcomed my family and for showing us such a great experience in America.”

Since joining the coaching staff, Traore helped the Sounders to four MLS Cup appearances (2016, 2017, 2019, 2020) and two championships (2016, 2019). In all, the 41-year-old Frenchman spent over eight years with the club in various roles.

“Both Gonzalo and Djimi are two of the most highly-respected assistant coaches in our league, and we are proud of their development within our club as professionals,” said Sounders GM and president of soccer Garth Lagerwey said in a release. “While we are sad to see such talented individuals depart the club, their new opportunities are not surprising when considering their contributions to our organization. We wish Gonzalo success as he stays within MLS and prepares to take over the head coaching position at Atlanta, and we know what an asset Djimi will be as he returns to Europe and embarks on a new role. Both of their new organizations are lucky to have these guys and they will be missed here in Seattle.”