ATLANTA (Feb. 2, 2023) – Atlanta United 2 today announced that Steve Cooke has been named head coach. Cooke joins Atlanta with more than 30 years of coaching experience and was most recently Academy Director for the Seattle Sounders. He will report to Academy Director Matt Lawrey and be joined on staff by Atlanta United Academy U-19 head coach Jose Silva, who has been promoted to assistant coach. ATL UTD 2 will debut in MLS NEXT Pro this season. The full schedule will be announced at a later date.
“Steve’s leadership and experience separated him for this position, and we couldn’t be more excited for him to lead ATL UTD 2 in our MLS NEXT Pro debut season,” Lawrey said. “Steve brings a wealth of youth development experience that will be a valuable resource for everyone in our Academy. He’s also extremely familiar with the MLS landscape, having spent time in both Colorado and Seattle. We’re looking forward to welcoming Steve and his family to Atlanta.”
Cooke brings a wealth of managerial experience to Atlanta. The Sheffield, England native began his coaching career in 1991 at the Sheffield Wednesday academy. After six years, Cooke moved to the United States to work with Sereno SC in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2010, Cooke was hired by the Colorado Rapids to become the club’s academy director. He joined Colorado’s first team as an assistant coach in 2012.
Following a coaching change during the 2017 season, Cooke was named the interim head coach of the Rapids for the final 12 matches of that season. Heading into the 2018 season, he was named head coach and technical director for OKC Energy FC in the USL Championship where he stayed for two years until he was named Phoenix Rising FC’s Director of Soccer in December of 2019. He joined Seattle Sounders in May of 2021 as the U-17 head coach and helped the Sounders U-17’s win the Generation Adidas Cup in April 2022.
“I’m incredibly excited to join such a high quality group of people and prestigious club like Atlanta United,” Cooke said. “I want to thank Matt, Garth Lagerwey and Carlos Bocanegra for their collective faith in me to lead ATL UTD 2 as the team joins MLS NEXT Pro. The southeast is a hotbed for talented young players, and has a long history of developing professional players. I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to help the players reach their dreams, and to aid Atlanta United in the development of the club’s future stars.”
Silva has been with the Atlanta United Academy since 2021. He’s coached the club’s U-19 team since joining and has been named UPSL Coach of the Year on two occasions (Fall 2021 & 2022). His U-19 side was the Georgia Conference Regular Season Champion in the most recently completed Fall 2022 season. Silva has previously coached with Orlando City’s Academy and USL teams. Atlanta’s current U-14 coach Rick Davey will take over the U-19 coaching duties.
“Jose is a tireless worker who has deservedly been recognized by his peers for his outstanding work with our U-19s,” Lawrey said. “He’s extremely deserving of this promotion and has a bright future in this business.”