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Gonzalo Pineda happy to be back with “beautiful” Sounders

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Despite fielding multiple coaching offers, Pineda said Seattle is the “best place I can be.”

Photos: Seattle Sounders vs. Houston Dynamo

The Seattle Sounders announced this week that former midfielder Gonzalo Pineda had joined Brian Schmetzer’s coaching staff for the 2017 season. Pineda, who also played for the Mexico national team, spent two seasons in Seattle, his only tenure outside of Mexico. But according to Pineda, his time with the Sounders was very special—just one reason why he chose to start his coaching career in the Emerald City. “This was a great opportunity for my career to start my new career as a coach, and I’m more than happy,” Pineda said.

After retiring at the conclusion of the 2016 season, Pineda spent a year as a broadcaster before making the decision to begin his coaching career. A well-known player from his time in Mexico, Pineda said that he fielded multiple coaching offers from Liga MX teams—but Seattle was always his destination. One of the main reasons was that he and his family recently became official residents of the US, and they needed (and wanted) to stay to keep that status. “We are residents now and we didn’t want to lose that, and we live very happy in this country.”

But it wasn’t just about keeping his residency—Pineda said that his time as a player with the Sounders was exceptional and a relationship that he wanted to continue as a coach. He’s familiar with the coaching staff and many of the players, and the fans adored him despite his relatively short stint with the team. Pineda said that “there’s the love I have for this beautiful team and this beautiful organization. It’s an amazing team, a top club, so I can say right now that I am in the best place I can be.”

As for his specific duties with the Sounders, Pineda said that he hasn’t talked with Schmetzer and company enough to know exactly where he’ll fit in. “To help Brian in all I can bring to the team, whether it’s tactically or working with players, but I will learn of course.” As a first-year coach, Pineda said that he hopes to learn not just from Schmetzer and the other assistants, but also from general manager Garth Lagerwey, sporting director Chris Henderson, and the players in the squad. As for his goals for 2017, Pineda said that he wants to grow individually as a coach as well as help the team win another MLS Cup.

Also worth noting is the effect Pineda could have on Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan, who said early last season that his most significant influence as a rookie had been Pineda. Roldan blossomed into one of the best young midfielders in MLS last season as he cemented a role in the middle of the park next to Osvaldo Alonso. Pineda said that he hopes to continue fostering Roldan’s growth in 2017: “I will be for sure very close to him, especially because I know all the things that he can bring to the team.” He said that Roldan has a very high ceiling as a player, and that he hopes to help Roldan reach the next level in 2017—getting called up to the US national team.