Report: Atlanta United on verge of hiring Gabriel Heinze

October 24, 2020 Atlanta - Atlanta United fans cheer for the team during the second half in a MLS soccer match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, October 24, 2020. D.C. United won 2-1 over the Atlanta United. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
October 24, 2020 Atlanta - Atlanta United fans cheer for the team during the second half in a MLS soccer match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, October 24, 2020. D.C. United won 2-1 over the Atlanta United. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Atlanta United is on the verge of agreeing to terms with Gabriel Heinze to be its next manager, according to two journalists who cover soccer in Central and South America.

The Five Stripes and previous manager Frank de Boer agreed to part ways in July.

According to Cesar Luis Merlo and Hugo Balassone, who work for TyC Sports, Heinze, 42, is one step from taking over as the team’s third manager.

Atlanta United, through a spokesman, declined to comment, citing its policy of not commenting on players or managers not under contract with the team.

Atlanta United President Darren Eales and Vice President Carlos Bocanegra have declined to provide much information on the search, other than repeatedly saying that it was trending well and that they hoped to complete the hire by the end of the year.

Heinze’s playing career as a defender included time at Newell’s Old Boys, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Roma, among others. He played for Argentina 73 times.

Heinze’s managing career includes leading Godoy Cruz (2015), Argentinos Junior (2016-17) and Velez Sarsfield (2017-20) in his native Argentina. His record as a manager is 58-30-36 for an average of 1.69 points per game.

Heinze would check a lot of boxes for Atlanta United:

» Influenced by previous manager Marcelo Bielsa, who also influenced previous Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino, Heinze typically plays a 4-3-3 formation with attacking tactics.

» His name is influential in South America, which would help the club continue to cultivate a pipeline that has helped it sign several players.

» Heinze is unemployed after leaving Velez Sarsfield and therefore wouldn’t need to have his contract bought out.

An explanation for why the team hasn’t named Heinze, or anyone, as manager yet may be because that person’s contract with their current employer expires at the end of the calendar year.

Atlanta United had great success under Martino, winning the MLS Cup in 2018. Martino had already resigned, effective at the end of the season.

He was replaced by de Boer, who led the team to the U.S. Open Cup and Campeones Cup in 2018. However, he had trouble connecting with some of the players and a few of those from South America were critical of his tactics. After a poor start to this season, de Boer and the club separated after the team went 0-for-3 in the MLS tournament in Orlando having failed to score in its games.

Club President Darren Eales said the team’s trajectory wasn’t headed in a positive direction. Though the team failed to make the playoffs for the first time in four seasons, and it had difficulty creating scoring chances, Eales said that the team has the talent to once again play the attacking, energetic style put into place by Martino.

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