Major League Soccer

Carlos Bocanegra reveals plans to make Atlanta United the 'premier team' in Concacaf

Chris Smith
Bocanegra has played a key role in building Atlanta United from the ground up.
Bocanegra has played a key role in building Atlanta United from the ground up. / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta United vice president and technical director Carlos Bocanegra has signaled his intent to help the club become Concacaf's 'premier team'.

The former United States international defender penned a multi-year extension to his contract with the Five Stripes earlier in the week.

Since joining Atlanta United in 2015, Bocanegra has played a key role in the club's managerial hires and roster building. Success has come in the form of MLS Cup (2018), US Open Cup, and Campeones Cup (2019) titles, though the Five Stripes struggled in 2020 and missed out on the MLS Cup Playoffs altogether - returning to the post season this year.

With Atlanta back among the best in MLS, Bocanegra has revealed his plans to take the club even further.

"Anytime you're in sports, you have ups and downs," Bocanegra told reporters in a virtual press conference. "We've had some success, we've had some failures and had some struggles. But I think this is part of it. And you know, it's been five years now. We're back in the playoffs. We still have lofty ambitions. We want to compete for championships every year.

"We're always trying to get better. We want to be the premier team on this continent. We want to be a global brand, but we're not going to forget about what's gotten us to that point here and focusing on our community, our city and continue growing this club.

"It’s difficult to each year have that goal and aspiration and we're going to come up short sometimes, but we're swinging for the fences and we're trying our darnedest to get there."

After two previously unpopular managerial appointments in Frank de Boer and Gabriel Heinze, Bocanegra and club president Darren Eales seem to have got it right with the capture of Gonzalo Pineda.

The Mexican previously served as Brian Schmetzer's assistant at the Seattle Sounders and, along with Rob Valentino, has helped turn Atlanta United's season around, losing just three of his 13 games in charge.

Bocanegra, like many, has been left impressed by Pineda's personality and ability to connect with everyone associated with the club.

"What I've noticed with Gonzalo is he's a young, hungry coach that has attention to detail, but he also has an excellent touch on the personal side," Bocanegra added.

"And I think that's what you see and then you hear all the comments, whether it's from the players, the staff, the media, the fan base, he gets it, he understands how it works here. He came from a fantastic club in Seattle that has a great culture, they built some really special up there. So he's seen that. We're continuing to try to build excellence here and establish ourselves."

Atlanta United travel to NYCFC on Sunday in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.