Atlanta United FC Begin Close Rivalry With 3-1 Victory In Nashville

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 26: Leandro Gonzalez
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 26: Leandro Gonzalez /

Atlanta United FC had a historic inaugural year, and look to build upon it in 2018. Part of that was the first, of many, rivalry games versus newly minted Nashville SC.

Regardless of sport, the idea of rivalry fuels the jet engine of fan support and attraction. Some rivalries are born out of circumstance. Until recently, not sure Falcons fans considerrd New England a rival. They do now. Some are born out of necessity. Same division, same hatred. But many are born out of location and proximity. The great rivalries have all three. See: Yankees vs Red Sox, Duke vs. UNC, etc. Atlanta United FC beat newbie Nashville SC (3-1) this weekend, and possibly, ushered in a new regional rival.

The game itself was a soggy, rain-soaked mess with both teams spending the first half trying to find their footing. Literally. There were moments of opportunity, but reality was that it was a sloppy slog.

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For 5 Stripe fans, there was reason for interest, other than the shiny new franchise in Nashville, and seeing what that might look like. According to

"The full Atlanta United Staring XI: Brad Guzan (GK), Greg Garza (LB), Leandro González Pirez (CB), Jeff Larentowicz (CB), Sal Zizzo (RB), Darlington Nagbe (CM), Chris McCann (CM), Miguel Almirón (CAM), Ezequiel Barco (LM), Julian Gressel (RM), and Josef Martinez (ST)."

Notice in there the addition of 18 year old burgeoning phenom Barco. The signing of that kid set records for MLS and ATL UTD. Dude is going to be fun to watch. Especially, when they get on the fast track known as Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Darlington Nagbe is another fan focus. Atlanta’s attacking front is going to be electric.

As for the possible rivalry born over the weekend in the Music City, there isn’t much to sing about, yet. Reality is most teams don’t come out of the gate and win explosively like United did last year. In fact, most don’t even win. It can take years for an expansion franchise to become a winner consistently. ATL UTD was an outlier. An anomaly. A fast-breaking, force-yielding, full field pressing, anomaly.

Time will tell whether Nashville and Atlanta wind up being a heated rivalry. But with proximity, and the type of natural city-devoted fans who support their teams, it very well could be.

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If Nashville grows quickly as a team, and can be competitive, my guess is that this nascent duel will get hot pretty quickly. And that could be all kinds of fun.