Atlanta Soccer Update: Hello MLS fans, goodbye Silverbacks?


Over the past week or so, there have been several stories surrounding professional soccer in Atlanta that have made some news, whether you might have heard of it or not. Here’s a bit of it and my take on it all. Let’s start with the good…

These numbers, for a team that’s still over two years away from playing, and who many people speculate won’t get a large fan support (Atlanta Thrashers, anyone?) appear to be outstanding. It’s exciting to see that the city has bought into the MLS team, and can’t wait to be there to see the team play.

Staying within MLS, a brand new Los Angeles club – LAFC (gross name) – was announced last week, and they’ll be replacing the 10-year old Chivas USA, which was for all intents and purposes a failed experiment by the league to make a team for a specific fan base. As opposed to allowing Chivas to disappear for a season or two and coming back with a new moniker, the league wants to completely distance Chivas USA and this new LA team, which they are really hoping is the natural rival to the Los Angeles Galaxy that Chivas never was.

The bummer about LAFC for an Atlanta soccer supporter is their first season will also be in 2017, and it is now a safe bet LAFC will overshadow Atlanta’s triumphant debut.

However, until 2017, Atlanta has the Silverbacks. At least, they’ve had the Silverbacks. Reports are coming out saying the ‘Backs future in the NASL, if not future in existence, is in serious jeopardy. The Silverbacks completed their 2014 season yesterday with a loss to Edmonton, and finish the year in last place, compiling 23 points in 27 games (yeah, not good). Don’t forget – this is a team that beat two MLS squads earlier this summer, and is still less than 365 days removed from hosting the league’s Championship game.

If they don’t stay in the NASL, there are a couple of options available for the only current Atlanta soccer entity in terms of switching leagues; one of which is the USL PRO league. Not only were the original Silverbacks (before the hiatus at the end of the last decade) in the USL’s second division, but the PRO division is considered to be the level directly under MLS (soccer’s AAA), and is where MLS newcomer Orlando City started. Plus, a number of affiliated teams (LA Galaxy II, Seattle Sounders II, Portland II) have a home. This would be incredibly convenient for Atlanta to be in, in case there ever becomes a developmental partnership between the ‘Backs and MLS. However, that’s highly unlikely, but that’s another story.

Are you impressed/surprised by the number of tickets that MLS Atlanta has sold? Are you one of those who have bought tickets? How do you feel about the possibility of a demise or league change for the Silverbacks? Let us know in a comment below or on twitter (@ATLBeatBlog, @FletchTopper), and stay tuned for the latest news in Atlanta soccer.