Rob Valentino agrees to new contract with Atlanta United

Atlanta United interim head coach Rob Valentino applauds his team and the fans after a 1-0 victory over Los Angeles FC during the second half Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
Caption
Atlanta United interim head coach Rob Valentino applauds his team and the fans after a 1-0 victory over Los Angeles FC during the second half Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Atlanta United re-signed assistant Rob Valentino to a new contract through the 2024 season, according to information provided by the team Tuesday.

Valentino served as the MLS team’s interim manager between the firing of Gabriel Heinze, with whom he was on staff, and the hiring of Gonzalo Pineda, who kept him as part of his staff.

Valentino arguably saved the team’s season by guiding it to a 4-2-2 record. The team got back to playing aggressive soccer that seemed to instill confidence lost playing under Heinze, who went 2-4-7 with only 13 goals scored in 13 games.

After taking 33 points since Aug. 12, which is when Pineda was hired, and is tied with three other teams for the most during that span, the team will play at NYCFC on Sunday in the first round of the MLS playoffs.

“I wouldn’t be here without the club’s support over the last four years and am grateful to Gonzalo, Carlos and Darren Eales for this opportunity,” Valentino said in a statement from the club. “I also want to thank our players because they’re the ones who grinded through a difficult time – I’m very grateful for their efforts and excited to continue working with them. I would also like to thank everyone in Atlanta for the tremendous support they showed us during the summer.”

Valentino reportedly interviewed for the vacant managerial job at Real Salt Lake after resuming his role as an assistant, as was reported by The Athletic in September.

After a professional playing career, Valentino, 35, joined Atlanta United in 2018 as an assistant with Atlanta United 2. He joined the first team as an assistant before the 2019 season under Frank de Boer. Valentino is credited with helping the development of centerback Miles Robinson, who is a finalist for MLS Defender of the Year and is now a consistent starter for the U.S. men’s national team, and George Campbell, and fullback George Bello, who this year received his first call-ups to the U.S. team.

Valentino and the assistants often work with the first team on set pieces. The team has scored 10 goals from set pieces this season.

“Since Rob joined the club in 2018, he’s exemplified a club-first attitude and personality that is the type of coach we want to have in our organization,” Atlanta United Vice President Carlos Bocanegra said in a statement from the club. “Serving as interim first-team head coach, he did a remarkable job of leading the group that set the foundation for a great second half of the season. We’re looking forward to Rob continuing to play a key role here, while also working on his own development.”

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