Atlanta United's Rob Valentino Signs Multiyear Contract as Assistant Coach
ATLANTA - Atlanta United today announced Rob Valentino has signed with the club through the 2024 season as Assistant Coach. Valentino originally joined the club in 2018 and served as interim head coach this season prior to Gonzalo Pineda's appointment. Valentino rounds out Pineda's staff for next season alongside Diego de la Torre (assistant), Liam Curran (goalkeeping) and Erik Marquis (video), in addition to support staff Ryan Alexander (Director of Sports Science), Jack Kimber (fitness) and Ricardo Oliveira (fitness).
"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 and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra said. "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."
Valentino was named interim head coach on July 18, 2021 and continued to stay on as assistant under Pineda. After Pineda's appointment on Aug. 12, Atlanta United finished the season tied for the most points (33) in MLS with Supporters Shield winners New England Revolution, Western Conference regular season winner Colorado Rapids and fellow MLS Cup Playoff team Vancouver Whitecaps.
"I've always been thankful to Rob for making my transition to Atlanta as seamless as possible and now I'm really excited to have him secured on our coaching staff moving forward," Pineda said. "We've had a great second half of the season and Rob - along with our entire support staff - is as deserving of the credit as anyone in this organization."
Valentino originally joined the club on Jan. 23, 2018 as assistant coach for Atlanta United 2's inaugural season. He was then promoted to the First Team as assistant coach under Frank de Boer for the 2019 and 2020 MLS seasons and continued to serve as an assistant for interim head coach Stephen Glass during the end of the 2020 season. He began the 2021 season as club coach, specifically to aide in player development and then re-joined the First Team staff as interim head coach.
"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. "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."
During his time in Atlanta, the former defender has played a key role in player development, particularly with fellow defenders Miles Robinson, George Bello and George Campbell. Robinson, a 2017 MLS SuperDraft selection, played 14 games under Valentino for ATL UTD 2 in 2018 before breaking into the First Team in 2019. Now, Robinson is a 2019 Best XI selection, a 2021 MLS All-Star and a starring center back for the United States Men's National Team. It's a similar path for Bello, a 19-year-old Homegrown who played in 20 games for ATL UTD 2 over the 2018 and 2019 USL seasons. He broke into the First Team during the 2020 season and has 49 appearances with 45 starts since then. He also broke into the USMNT this year, starting during in the 2021 Gold Cup Final where it beat Mexico, in addition to a pair of road World Cup Qualifiers last month. In addition, 20-year-old Campbell, also a Homegrown, broke into the First Team this season, appearing in 15 games with six starts.
Before becoming a coach, Valentino played professionally for eight years as a defender. He was drafted No. 13 overall in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft by New England Revolution and later played for Colorado Rapids and FC Tampa Bay before landing at Orlando City in 2011 for the team's inaugural season. Valentino made 77 appearances over five seasons at center back, scoring nine goals, and won three regular season USL championships and two postseason titles with Orlando City. He was voted 2011 USL Defender of the Year and was named team captain after his first season. He played one season with Arizona United in 2015 before announcing his retirement. Valentino attended the University of San Francisco where he played and served as team captain for four seasons. He was named the West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore and the West Coast Conference Player of the Year as a junior.
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