Yes, Gonzalo Pineda and his staff will be back in 2024, Atlanta United vice president and technical director Carlos Bocanegra said in his season-end media availability on Friday.
Pineda, despite Atlanta making the playoffs in 2023, has cut a bit of a divisive figure among the fanbase, although the team did show some improvement following Leagues Cup on the back of signing Saba Lobjanidze and Tristan Muyumba and picking up Xande Silva on loan. That wasn’t enough to keep them from being eliminated in 3 games by the Columbus Crew.
But no changes will be made to the status of Pineda and his technical staff, with Pineda’s contract running through the end of the 2024 season.
“We look forward to building on the continuity and cohesion that we’ve built the past few years,” Bocanegra said.
One of the main points of contention regarding Pineda is his perceived lack of tactical acumen. Critics will point to the club’s propensity for “leaking goals” — borrowing Pineda’s own phrase following a season-ending 4-2 loss to the Crew on Sunday — that frankly cost Atlanta a shot at a top 4 finish in the Eastern Conference.
Bocanegra, though, recalled the team’s playoff appearance in 2021, following a regular season where they finished level on points with NYCFC for 4th but were slotted 5th via tiebreak (13 wins to NYC’s 14), as well as a “tumultuous” 2022 which saw Brad Guzan and Miles Robinson lost for the majority of the season due to major injuries and a host of other players miss time.
As for 2023, Bocanegra credited Pineda for keeping the team in the playoff chase throughout the season while stating that they “improved as the season went on”.
“We actually had a lot of belief in here,” he said. “We felt we had a really good team and could have done something in the playoffs.”
That, of course, didn’t happen, as Atlanta fell short against Columbus. Still, that sense of optimism is still present for Bocanegra, and it will be Pineda in the technical area when the 2024 season begins.
“We’re looking forward to next year and just building on this base of what we have and continuing to push forward, trying to achieve our goals with that top 4,” he said.
What about Carlos Bocanegra’s status for 2024?
Oh, by the way, Bocanegra intends to be back with Atlanta in 2024, he said.
Bocanegra, who is under contract through 2025, has been firmly in persona non grata territory for a while, with a quick search of X surfacing a vocal group of fans calling for his ouster. That’s not to say his services haven’t been requested elsewhere: Rangers, where he played as a defender from 2011-2013, reached out early in the summer regarding its director of football role. While “flattered” by the interest, he declined.
“I like it here,” he said. “It’s been really good with Garth [Lagerwey] coming in, his knowledge, some of the resources he is giving the club, helping build out the analytics department, sports performance department. So I really feel good about the setup that we have in the front office and how we can help translate that on the field with the amazing resources that Arthur [Blank] gives us and the facilities we have ...
“I just want to help contribute and help do what I can to get this club continued on that right path and hopefully win us some championships soon because that’s what we believe in.”