With famous family name, Matias Gallardo showing potential with Atlanta United

Atlanta United 2 midfielder Matias Gallardo runs on the pitch during the MLS Next Pro match against Inter Miami 2 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium on Sept. 17, 2023. (Photo by Asher Greene/Atlanta United)

Credit: Asher Greene/Atlanta United

Credit: Asher Greene/Atlanta United

Atlanta United 2 midfielder Matias Gallardo runs on the pitch during the MLS Next Pro match against Inter Miami 2 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium on Sept. 17, 2023. (Photo by Asher Greene/Atlanta United)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Looking at Atlanta United’s roster during its friendlies, and one last name stands out because it carries some fame.


Surely that’s not the son of Marcelo Gallardo, former coach of River Plate and a standout for Argentina, River Plate, Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco, among other teams?

Yes, it is.

And Matias Gallardo, Marcelo’s son, is forging his own path.

“Whenever people hear my last name, my dad’s known all over the world, so they know who I am,” he said Friday at Al Lang Stadium. “But I’m trying to make my own career and be my own self.”

How Gallardo, who is 20, came from Argentina to Atlanta reflects that self-reliance.

Like his father, Gallardo came up through River Plate’s academy as an attacking midfielder. He broke into its reserve team and then its first team. HIs playing time began to diminish, so he and his agent began looking for an opportunity where he could better continue his development.

They found Atlanta United and Atlanta United 2.

Gallardo said he consulted with his father, who is coaching Saudi Arabia, who told him that MLS would be good for his development. Gallardo’s signing was announced July 27, 2023.

Gallardo said he didn’t know much about MLS, the club or the city before he signed. He began watching MLS to learn about the club, the league and because of Lionel Messi, who is, along with Bayer Leverkusen’s Exequiel Palacio and Atlanta United’s Thiago Almada, among his favorite players.

Gallardo appeared in five games, making one start. He impressed Atlanta United’s coaching staff enough to be among the 2′s players to join the first team for training camp. Gallardo has played in each of the first three preseason matches. Gallardo said he feels like he is developing well. Against Memphis, Gallardo beat several tacklers as he dribbled up the field as Atlanta United searched for the tying goal. It was an impressive run that was reminiscent of past Atlanta United players Hector Villalba, Ezequiel Barco, Marcelino Moreno and Almada.

“(I want to show) the motivation, just the will to always be out here to train hard, to prove myself and yeah, just to get my best to show the coaching staff what I can do,” he said.

Gallardo will return to Atlanta United 2 once the preseason is complete. He said his goal is to earn a contract with the first team.

“Continue growing, to keep getting as many minutes and as many games as I can with the first team and to show them that, that I’m here whenever they need me,” he said.

Pineda said that Gallardo has potential.

“He’s a talented No. 10,” Pineda said. “Of course, he doesn’t know all the nuances in that position in my system and how we like the No. 10 to operate. So of course, you allow in that position to have some freedom to be creative, right? So it’s not that rigid for him. But of course, he has to follow certain principles on how to move and which spaces and pockets to occupy. And he has to progress on that. And then of course, as all the attacking players the final product, right, you need goals and assists from that position.”

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Atlanta United’s 2024 schedule

Feb. 24 at Columbus, 2 p.m.

March 9 vs. New England, 7:30 p.m.

March 17 vs. Orlando, 7 p.m., FS1

March 23 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.

March 31 vs. Chicago, 3:30 p.m., Fox

April 6 at NYCFC, 7:30 p.m.

April 14 vs. Philadelphia, 2:30 p.m., Fox

April 20 vs. Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.

April 27 at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.

May 4 vs. Minnesota, 7:30 p.m.

May 11 vs. D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

May 15 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.

May 18 at Nashville, 1:30 p.m.

May 25 vs. LAFC, 7:30 p.m.

May 29 at Miami, 7:30 p.m.

June 2 vs Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., Fox

June 15 vs. Houston, 7:30 p.m.

June 19 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

June 22 at St. Louis, 8:30 p.m.

June 29 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m.

July 3 at New England, 7:30 p.m.

July 6 at Real Salt Lake, 9:30 p.m.

July 13 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

July 17 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m.

July 20 vs. Columbus, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 10:30 p.m.

Aug. 31 at Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 14 vs. Nashville, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 18 vs. Miami, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 2 vs. Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 5 vs. Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Orlando, 6 p.m.