Bocanegra: I want to help Atlanta United become premier club in North America

Carlos Bocanegra has served as Atlanta United's Technical Director.
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Carlos Bocanegra has served as Atlanta United's Technical Director.

Saying that he wants to help Atlanta United become the premier soccer club in North and Central America, Carlos Bocanegra said Tuesday that he was thrilled to sign a four-year contract extension to remain as vice president of the MLS franchise. The club announced the agreement Monday.

“You go through ups and downs in sports, as we all know, but we never lost belief here,” Bocanegra said. “I never wanted to go anywhere else. We’re trying to build something special. We’re trying to build a legacy and continue to build upon the foundation that we’ve laid already.”

Atlanta United will play at NYCFC in the playoffs Sunday. This is the fourth time in five seasons that the club qualified for the postseason. It has won the MLS Cup once, as well as the U.S. Open Cup and Campeones Cup, in its previous four seasons.

That the team made the playoffs after winning only two games under previous manager Gabriel Heinze, who was replaced by Gonzalo Pineda, is a testament to the focus of not only the players but everyone involved with the club, Bocanegra said.

He said that focus is what helped him. The club struggled last season, the only one in which it didn’t make the playoffs, and got off to another poor start this season. The results, combined with some supporters’ dismay at Bocanegra’s personnel decisions, led to some saying that his contract should be allowed to expire in March 2022 and a new VP hired.

Bocanegra said he never worried about his future.

“You’ve just got to focus day to day on your job and try to do the best you can, and I think that’s something that not only myself, but everyone in this building does is we try to do the best for the club, the city, the supporters, every decision we make, everything we do,” he said. “We don’t always get everything right. That’s for sure. But that’s definitely the goal. So I’m extremely happy here in Atlanta and looking forward to the playoffs and hopefully making some noise.”

Bocanegra said his responsibilities will not change. He will continue to oversee the “soccer” side of the franchise, which includes the first team, scouting, signings, contracts, Atlanta United 2 and the academy.

Becoming Atlanta United’s first technical director was Bocanegra’s first job after his storied Hall of Fame playing career ended with his retirement following the 2014 season.

As he joked that he has gotten a few more gray hairs, he said he has learned to focus more on the positives than to dwell on the negatives in his first years on the job.

“We’re trying to be a global brand,” he said. “We’re trying to be a big club and establish ourselves after these five years now, in these next 5-10 years as being the dominant team on the continent. It’s difficult. It really is to each year have that golden aspiration. We’re going to come up short sometimes, but you know, we’re swinging for the fences, and we’re trying our darndest to get there.”

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Atlanta United’s playoff schedule

Nov. 21 at NYCFC, 3 p.m., ABC

Atlanta United’s 2021 MLS schedule

April 17 Atlanta United 0, Orlando 0

April 24 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 1

May 1 New England 2, Atlanta United 1

May 9 Atlanta United 1, Inter Miami 1

May 15 Atlanta United 1, Montreal 0

May 23 Atlanta United 1, Seattle 1

May 29 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

June 20 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 2

June 23 NYCFC 1, Atlanta United 0

June 27 Atlanta United 0, New York Red Bulls 0

July 3 Chicago 3, Atlanta United 0

July 8 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

July 17 New England 1, Atlanta United 0

July 21 Atlanta United 1, Cincinnati 1

July 24 Columbus 1, Atlanta United 0

July 30 Orlando 3, Atlanta United 2

Aug. 4 Atlanta United 2, Montreal 2

Aug. 7 Atlanta United 3, Columbus 2

Aug. 15 Atlanta United 1, LAFC 0

Aug. 18 Atlanta United 1, Toronto 0

Aug. 21 Atlanta United 2, D.C. United 1

Aug. 28 Nashville 2, Atlanta United 0

Sept. 10 Atlanta United 3, Orlando 0

Sept. 15 Atlanta United 4, Cincinnati 0

Sept. 18 Atlanta United 3, D.C. United 2

Sept. 25 Philadelphia 1, Atlanta United 0

Sept. 29 Atlanta United 1, Inter Miami 0

Oct. 2 Montreal 2, Atlanta United 1

Oct. 16 Atlanta United 2, Toronto 0

Oct. 20 Atlanta United 1, NYCFC 1

Oct. 27 Atlanta United 2, Miami 1

Oct. 30 Atlanta United 1, Toronto1

Nov. 3 Atlanta United 0, New York Red Bulls 0

Nov. 7 Atlanta United 2, Cincinnati 1

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