Atlanta United took the city of Atlanta and the entire MLS for a ride when it joined as an expansion team in 2017 finishing 4th in the Eastern conference and making it all the way to the playoffs. While Atlanta does have serveral major league sports teams, the city has lived through serveral decades worth of drought when it comes to having a winning team. Atlanta United plays at the beautiful, brand new, Mercedez-Benz Stadium which opened in 2017 and shares its space as the home of the Atlanta Falcons NFL Football team.
I had the pleasure of attending my first MLS game of the season watching Atlanta United take on New York City FC on April 15th. Although the match ended in a draw, the stadium was full to the brim with fans, the crowd was absolutely electric, and both teams were in excellent form scoring two goals a piece. You can see the highlights from the game in the video embedded below from the MLS website.
I've never seen this many people at a Soccer game in my life. Over 45,000 fans showed up to cheer on their team, inlcuding an entire supporters section for the opposing team. Atlanta United leads the league in everage attendance for all teams which is amazing considering that Atlanta has been without a professional soccer team for decades. The last time that an Atlanta team won a soccer championship in a first division league was in 1968 as a part of the old North American Soccer League.
Being a fan of Soccer in the United States can be tough sometimes. This is espcially evident with the failure of the US Men's National Team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. If you've been an MLS fan for any amount of time, it seems like each season the stakes get higher, the players get better, and the fans base growns. The sport as a whole continues to get more attention from all parts of the country.
As a huge fan of Soccer, seeing 45,000 people at a regular season game gives me a lot of hope for the future of the sport in America. Atlanta has shown that there is a pent up demand for soccer in the south. Hopefully their success will convince other large metro areas without a professional team to consider investing in the sport.