Atlanta hire ex-Mexico star Pineda as new coach

Former Mexico international Gonzalo Pineda has been appointed as the new Atlanta United head coach, it was announced on Thursday.

Sources told ESPN on Wednesday that the 38-year-old had agreed personal terms with the Major League Soccer club and Pineda has signed a contract with Atlanta until the 2024 season.

– ESPN+: MLS chat and more on ESPN FC Daily (U.S. only)
ESPN+ viewers’ guide: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, FA Cup, more

“This is truly the opportunity of a lifetime and I’m really excited to become Atlanta United’s head coach,” Pineda said in a press 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.”

Pineda will join the team in Atlanta next week while assistant coach Rob Valentino will be in charge of the club’s next two matches.

Pineda has long been touted as manager-in-waiting within MLS, and was reportedly a finalist for the D.C. United job that eventually went to Hernan Losada. His first managerial stint will see him take over one of the biggest jobs in MLS, with Atlanta winning three trophies in its first three years of operation, including an MLS Cup triumph in 2018.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Gonzalo as the head coach of Atlanta United,” club president Darren Eales said.”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.”

During his playing career, Pineda represented some of Mexico’s biggest clubs, including Pumas, Guadalajara and Cruz Azul on loan. He was also loaned out to San Luis, Puebla and Queretaro. He spent the last two years of his career in Seattle, helping the side to U.S. Open Cup and Supporters Shield double in 2014.

At international level, Pineda made 44 appearances for Mexico, scoring one goal. He was also selected to El Tri’s 23-man roster for the 2006 World Cup.