Atlanta United: Gonzalo Pineda brings MLS experience as head coach

New head coach for Atlanta United is Gonzalo Pineda

Atlanta United has a new head coach, and for the first time in club history, he has MLS experience.

What should be helpful for Atlanta United is that not only is Gonzalo Pineda an experienced assistant coach in MLS, but he also has experience in the league as a player.

He will take over an Atlanta United team that recently saw their 12 game streak without a win snapped this weekend in a rather impressive 3-2 win at Columbus Crew SC. Under interim head coach Rob Valentino, Atlanta United seemed to play better although results were still tough to come by.

Now with a head coach in Pineda who comes from a highly successful Seattle Sounders team, the hope is that Atlanta United can start to build off the momentum from this past weekend and climb above the red playoff line in the Eastern Conference.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Gonzalo as the head coach of Atlanta United,” Atlanta United president Darren Eales said in a statement released by the team. “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.”

The 38-year old Pineda spent the final two years of his MLS career with the Sounders before retiring in 2015 and becoming an assistant with the club two years later. He also has 44 caps with Mexico having played in the Confederations Cup, Copa America and the 2006 World Cup for his country.

The entirety of his playing career was spent in Mexico, primarily with Guadalajara.

Of the three previous head coaches in Atlanta United history – Tata Martino, Frank de Boer and the recently fired Gabriel Heinze – none had either coached or played in MLS prior to taking on a role with the club. Pineda will be counted on to help navigate a club that is ambitious and spends like an MLS Cup contender but has seemingly lacked the institutional knowledge among its head coaches on how to win in the league.

“As both a player and a developing assistant coach, Seattle has been my home now for many years, and I have grown to love the people in this community and all that it represents,” Pineda said in a release from the Sounders.

“I have learned many, many valuable lessons from Brian Schmetzer, my fellow assistant coaches and our players, and these are teachings I will take with me into this new opportunity in Atlanta. While I am very excited about the future and leading Atlanta United, I want to take a moment to say thank you to everyone at Sounders FC and the club’s passionate fans for leaving such a lasting impression on me and my family. It has been an incredible journey with you all and I am thankful to have been a part of your club.”