Atlanta United Surprises with Good Results, Popularity Soars

Elias Podber, Writer

Within the first season of its history, Atlanta United has made a name for itself in Major League Soccer (MLS) as one of the teams to watch. Whether it be their enjoyable and offensive style of play, their high level players and head coach, or their popular red and black striped uniforms, Atlanta United has built a large fan base that extends to the students of Grady.

“You always have high expectations, but I wasn’t expecting this,” said junior William Poss, a fan of the team, “I hope they [Atlanta United] keep it up.”

The club has drawn an average attendance of 44,698 people at temporary home field Bobby Dodd Stadium, which is the highest average in the country. They haven’t even moved into their permanent home Mercedes-Benz Stadium yet.

“The atmosphere’s insane [at Atlanta United games],” said Poss, “Most soccer games, people don’t stand the entire time, it’s crazy how we stand every single minute of the game,” he said.

Atlanta United has been stirring up some trouble in its inaugural season, with not only the highest average attendance, but also as an expansion team on track to qualify for the playoffs. Expansion teams are teams that are added to the MLS every year to grow the league. It started off with ten, and now has 22.

“I think they can actually become a dominant force in the MLS,” said Poss.

With results against MLS giants like Toronto FC ending in nail biting draws with scores of 2-2, or forward Tito Villalba scoring one of the goals of the season in the last minute of the match against rivals Orlando City, Atlanta United has proved itself to be something more than just the 21st team created in the league.  

“They’ve been really great this season, so if they go onto the finals… I can see them become like a dynasty,” said Poss.

Most cities in the country that have MLS teams are less enthusiastic about the sport, with none of them breaking league transfer records in their first season on players like Miguel Almiron, or acquiring former FC Barcelona–European soccer giants– head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino as Atlanta United have.

Compared to the Atlanta Hawks and Falcons, United is finally giving ATLiens something to be excited about in the world of sports, especially after the Falcons’ Super Bowl stunt, the Hawks’ string of disappointing seasons, and the Braves finishing 26th overall in the MLB.

“I mean, after how bad all the Atlanta teams have done, it’s cool to finally see us actually do well for once,” said Jake  Svedberg, sophomore and fan of Atlanta United.

Meanwhile, at Grady, seeing someone walk the halls with an Atlanta United jersey or shirt on is not a rare sight in the slightest. However, since the sport is still new to the city, the school has yet to be completely overcome with the soccer fever.

Out of 70 students surveyed, 44 percent said they paid most attention to the Falcons, 29 percent said the same about Atlanta United, 20 percent chose the Hawks, and seven percent opted for the Braves. Atlanta United came second in the results, proving that its popularity is quickly spreading among the Grady student population.  

“I’m pretty impressed,” said sophomore Remy Pair, “even though I don’t know a lot about Atlanta United, I can tell it’s pretty popular.”