ATLANTA — Atlanta United today announced it has signed Carlos Bocanegra to a multiyear contract extension. Under Bocanegra’s leadership as Vice President and Technical Director, Atlanta United has accumulated the third most points in MLS since joining the league in 2017, was the only team to win both MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup during the same stretch and became only fourth-ever MLS team to qualify for Concacaf Champions League three years in a row.
“Carlos came to Atlanta United straight from a decorated playing career, and immediately put the same energy and passion that he had on the field into his first front office role,” Atlanta United President Darren Eales said. “Since entering the league in 2017, Atlanta United has established itself as a top MLS club, and Carlos has been an integral part of that success. From building an academy that has already produced USMNT players, to drafting Miles Robinson in our first SuperDraft, to establishing a scouting and recruitment department which has signed players from Josef Martinez to Luiz Araújo, Carlos has worked tirelessly for the good of the club. Therefore, I’m delighted to announce an extension that will allow him to continue to work alongside Gonzalo Pineda in this next exciting chapter of our history.”
Bocanegra was named Technical Director of Atlanta United on March 2, 2015. Amidst one of the most impressive expansion seasons in MLS history in 2017 – as the club became the first team to qualify for MLS Cup Playoffs since 2009 – Bocanegra was promoted to Vice President and Technical Director on October 10, 2017. Atlanta went on to win MLS Cup in 2018, U.S. Open Cup in 2019 and became the first MLS team to win Campeones Cup, also in 2019. In addition to its two trophies during the 2019 season, Atlanta set an MLS record for most points by a defending champion (58). After missing the postseason during an injury-riddled, pandemic shortened 2020 season, Atlanta again qualified for MLS Cup Playoffs in 2021, marking the fourth time in club history. It is one of only four Eastern Conference teams to qualify for four out of the last five MLS Cup Playoffs, joining NYCFC, New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union.
“I want to thank Arthur Blank, Stephen Cannon and Darren for their continued confidence in me. We built something from scratch that I think we can all be proud of, but collectively we have bigger aspirations for what this club can become,” Bocanegra said. “I also want to recognize the support staff for their dedication and sacrifice to the project and vision that we have for this club. We’re still a young franchise, but the goal is to keep pushing forward and continuing to build upon the foundation that we’ve laid and ultimately establish this club as the premier team on the continent. Finally, I’m really excited about working together with Gonzalo, who shares our strategic vision for this club’s future.”
Bocanegra spearheads Atlanta’s roster construction, which – prior to the club’s expansion season – established a model of acquiring younger Designated Players approaching their prime. The club signed its first Designated Player, Tito Villalba, in July of 2016 – six months before its first preseason and before it had announced a head coach. A few months later, Atlanta added a pair of breakthrough signings in Miguel Almirón and Josef Martínez. Almirón was MLS’ 2017 Newcomer of the Year and named to the league’s Best XI in each of his two seasons in Atlanta. The Paraguayan was sold to the Premier League’s Newcastle for an MLS record transfer fee in 2019. Martínez has been selected to MLS Best XI three times, twice named an All-Star and was the 2018 MLS MVP, MLS Cup MVP and Golden Boot winner after he broke the league’s single-season record with 31 goals. Overall, Atlanta has had more players selected to the MLS All-Star Game (15) since 2017 than any other club, with LAFC second with nine.
Bocanegra also oversees the club’s Academy that began in 2016, a year before the MLS team played its first match. The Academy has produced 11 homegrown players and more than 40 players have signed with Division I NCAA programs. Standout defender George Bello became the first Atlanta United Homegrown to earn a call up to the senior U.S. Men’s National Team and he has five appearances, all coming in 2021. Bello started the 2021 Gold Cup Final against Mexico and has started two road matches in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying. After climbing through the ranks from Academy to ATL UTD 2, the 19-year-old cemented his position as Atlanta’s starting left back.
Bocanegra was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2020 and is still heavily involved with the U.S. Soccer program, where he currently serves as the co-chair of the technical development committee that was established in April of 2018. He was also a board member for the joint United 2026 World Cup bid that was ultimately selected by FIFA to host the tournament. A former captain of the United States Men’s National Team for six years, Bocanegra retired from play in 2014 after a 15-year career that included more than 200 career appearances in England, France and Scotland and still holds the record for most international goals scored by a U.S. defender. He represented the United States at both the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups and is tied for 11th all-time in U.S. Soccer history with 110 caps. He also helped lead the USMNT to two Gold Cup victories in 2002 and 2007.
ABOUT ATLANTA UNITED
Atlanta United joined Major League Soccer in 2017 and won the 2018 MLS Cup in just its second season, the earliest an expansion team has won the title since 1998. The club has set multiple league records including season tickets sales (36,000-plus), single-game attendance (72,548), single-season average (53,002) and total home attendance (901,033). Owned by Arthur M. Blank, and led by club President Darren Eales, Atlanta United plays its home matches at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. For more information about Atlanta United, including how to purchase season tickets, visit: www.atlutd.com, and follow @ATLUTD.