It’s been an incredible expansion season for Atlanta United, so why mess with a good thing?
On Monday, Atlanta locked up technical director Carlos Bocanegra to a long-term contract extension that will run through March of 2022, while adding the position of vice president to his title.
“Continuity and stability are critical in building and sustaining a successful organization,” Atlanta United president Darren Eales said in a statement. “Carlos’ proven leadership and expertise has been instrumental in building our club’s foundation. He has built an elite-level, highly competitive roster from scratch and has forged seamless relationships with our players, [head coach] Tata Martino and [director of soccer operations] Paul McDonough. He has also been instrumental in building a top-class Academy which currently has five players representing their countries in the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
“I’m proud of the work Carlos and the technical team have done to contribute to our record-breaking inaugural season, and look forward to working with him to further build on the club’s success.”
Hired in March of 2015, Bocanegra went to work assembling a inaugural roster that featured 14 players outside of MLS who had experience in a foreign country’s top division, including the dynamic trio of Designated Players Josef Martinez, Miguel Almiron and Hector Villalba that have combined to score 40 goals — currently more than four MLS teams.
With those three leading the way, Atlanta currently rank seventh in league history in goals in a single season (68) and fourth all-time in goal differential (+30) as they’ve become the first expansion team since 2009 to qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs.
A former US national team defender, Bocanegra also built a stout defense that’s allowed the third-fewest goals in MLS this season (38), thanks in large part to the acquisitions of 2017 All-Stars Michael Parkhurst and Greg Garza.
Bocanegra, a longtime captain of the US national team and a former two-time MLS Defender of the Year, also found success via other player acquisition mechanisms, drafting MLS Rookie of the Year frontrunner Julian Gressel with the No. 8 overall selection and signing Yamil Asad on loan from Velez Sarsfield.
Bocanegra was recently named the top technical director of 2017 by MLSsoccer.com.
Looking to earn the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and the first-round bye that comes with it, Atlanta returns to action on Sunday with a road game against the New York Red Bulls (5 pm ET, FS1) before facing Supporters’ Shield winners Toronto FC in a star-studded regular-season finale on Oct. 22.