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Atlanta United wants to interview Gonzalo Pineda for head coaching job, report says

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Pineda has been on Brian Schmetzer’s staff since 2017.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

Atlanta United may finally be ready to make a pragmatic coaching hire and could be turning to the team to which they’re most often compared to do it: the Seattle Sounders. The Athletic’s Sam Stejskal is reporting that Atlanta United is requesting permission to interview Sounders assistant coach Gonzalo Pineda.

Atlanta United is already looking to hire their fourth permanent head coach in their fifth season in the league. Tata Martino was their initial hire and was highly successful, leading them to one of the best regular-seasons in MLS history in 2018 and winning MLS Cup that year. He then left to become the head coach of the Mexican national team. Atlanta then hired Frank De Boer, only to fire him about 1.5 years into his tenure. The hiring of Argentinian Gabriel Heinze was supposed to herald a return to Martino’s glory days, but he was instead fired after just 13 games.

Atlanta United had most recently been linked to former Roma coach Paulo Fonseca, but reports that he turned them down surfaced only hours before the Pineda news surfaced.

Pineda would certainly represent a departure for Atlanta United, who has so far only looked to coaches with extensive — and flashy — resumes. But Pineda, 38, is considered one of the top assistants in MLS and has been linked with numerous jobs both around the league and in Mexico.

The Sounders surely don’t want to lose Pineda, but would likely at least grant permission for Atlanta United to interview him. If he were to be hired, there is precedence for the Sounders to be compensated. Mostly recently, when the Colorado Rapids hired Robin Fraser away from Toronto FC, $75,000 in General Allocation Money exchanged hands.