ATLANTA — Atlanta United Friday announced it has agreed a two-year contract with Gabriel Heinze to become the third head coach in club history.
Heinze most recently coached at Velez Sarsfield for the past 2 1/2 years. During the 2019-20 season, Heinze led the third-youngest team in the 24-team league to a third-place finish. He will be introduced to the media during a press conference via Zoom Monday.
He succeeds Frank de Boer, who was fired as head coach July 24.
“This is a milestone moment in Atlanta United history, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome Gabriel as our next head coach,” club president Darren Eales said in a statement. “We cast the net widely for this important hire, and Gabriel quickly emerged as the No. 1 candidate. Gabriel is one of the top coaches in South American soccer and we are delighted that he chose Atlanta United. Whilst his resume speaks for itself, Gabriel’s playing philosophy and commitment to youth development closely align with our ideas at Atlanta United, and we are happy to welcome him as we move into our club’s next chapter.”
Following a playing career that included time at Manchester United, Real Madrid and Paris St. Germain, Heinze retired in July 2014 and began working as a manager in the Argentine Primera Division with Godoy Cruz. In the summer of 2016, he took over Argentinos Juniors in the second division. In the 44-match season, the former center back led the team to a 25-6-13 record and 88 points to secure promotion for his side. That Argentinos Juniors finished the year with a plus 37 goal differential.
“I’m excited to be taking on this new challenge with Atlanta United,” Heinze said in a statement. “I believe that my football philosophy is aligned with the vision of the club and their structure and facilities are world-class. I can’t wait to meet the players, the staff and the fans and get to work in 2021.”
Following his time with Argentinos Juniors, Heinze made the move to Velez Sarsfield. After guiding the team to a mid-table finish in his first season, Velez Sarsfield improved to sixth place the following campaign. That gave the club qualification to the Copa Sudamericana for the first time since 2013.
The club’s ascent continued into the 2019-20 season, despite having a squad that averaged 23.5 years in age (third youngest in the league). Heinze led Velez Sarsfield to a third-place finish, the team’s highest finish in the topflight since 2013-14. One of the club’s many signature wins of the season came on Sept. 22, when Heinze guided Velez Sarsfield to a 2-1 away win at the Estadio Monumental against River Plate.
“Since we launched Atlanta United, our objective has been clear to play an aggressive, attack-minded style of play,” vice president and technical director Carlos Bocanegra said in a statement. “Gabriel fits that mold and has a dynamic playing style that aligns with the identity of our club, which is what we were specifically looking for in our next head coach. We’re excited to get him into Atlanta and to get to work on a promising 2021 season.”