Player Features

Goodbye Gonzo & Djimi: Two Sounders legends with a shared legacy

An era comes to a close with the departure of longtime Assistant Coaches Gonzalo Pineda and Djimi Traore.

The legacy of these two Sounders legends began in far different places but the two followed a similar trajectory once arriving in Seattle. Pineda, a longtime Liga MX standout player and member of Mexico’s 2006 FIFA World Cup squad, joined the Rave Green in 2014 and became a major piece of the club’s 2014 Supporters’ Shield and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title wins in his two seasons of play. Traore, a veteran of top-flight soccer in England and France and 2005 UEFA Champions League Final winner with Liverpool FC, made 50 appearances for the Sounders and captured the Supporters’ Shield and U.S. Open Cup titles alongside Pineda in his two seasons from 2013-2014.

Their joint success would not end there.

The pair’s on-field contributions would transition to the Sounders First-Team sideline in 2016 and 2017. Prior to the 2016 Sounders season, Traore received the nod to join the First Team staff. Pineda followed suit in 2017. While together, they made three MLS Cup Appearances (2017, 2019, 2020), captured one title (2019), helped Seattle’s MLS record of beginning a season unbeaten through 13 matches, and were vital to the win that featured an MLS-record five teenagers in a starting lineup.

Today, Pineda and Traore diverge from this storied Seattle legacy together to pursue new goals. Pineda will take the helm of the Head Coaching position at Atlanta United FC while Traore returns to Europe for a new leadership role with a topflight club. Pineda’s tactical awareness and valuable experience as Schmetzer’s right-hand man and go-to partner on the bench will fill a much-needed head coaching role in Atlanta. Traore, a renowned, beloved ‘player’s coach’ and defensive specialist, will take his professional skillset back to Europe — providing six years of Sounders coaching success to his new organization. The two depart the Emerald City with a heart full of gratefulness to the man that played a massive role in their coaching advancement, Brian Schmetzer.

“How he treats people, how he thinks of the human before a soccer player. He’s a fantastic manager. Calm and in control — doesn’t lose his mind very often. He understands the league, understands the processes, where to put players in the best places to perform,” said Pineda of Schmetzer.

“Brian you are the best. You will always be my mentor, you will always be very important in my development as a coach.”

It’s business as usual for a club that happily promotes the success of its players and coaches whether it's with them or not. As Pineda and Traore have proven, it's an opportunity for new coaches to develop and carve out careers with such a storied club.

Always A Sounder: Gonzo and Djimi
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