Sounder At Heart’s Niko Moreno was the first to report the news of Pineda’s hiring, stating that the new Atlanta manager agreed to a three-year contract and would take over “immediately” though it’s not clear if that will happen in time for this weekend’s home match against LAFC.
Pineda, 38, has long been touted as manager-in-waiting within Major League Soccer circles, 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.
But recent seasons have seen Atlanta struggle. While Frank de Boer led the Five Stripes to two trophies in 2019, he was fired in the middle of the 2020 season, one that saw Atlanta fail to reach an expanded, 18-team postseason. Another high-profile manager, Gabriel Heinze, was hired ahead of the 2021 campaign, but the Argentine was fired last month amid a run of poor results as well as reports of draconian methods that included denying players water during practice and refusing to give players mandated days off as defined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLS and the MLS Players Association.
In response, and after former Roma manager Paulo Fonseca turned down the job, Atlanta has looked within MLS for the first time in its brief history. After finishing his playing career with the Sounders in 2015, Pineda started working with the Sounders as an assistant in 2017. In that time, the Sounders won an MLS Cup in 2019, and were beaten finalists in 2017 and 2020.
As a player, Pineda played for 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. Pineda 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.