Atlanta Has Made Its Mark As A Soccer Town With The Success Of Atlanta United FC

Atlanta United FC Kevin Kratz (Photo by John Adams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Atlanta United FC Kevin Kratz (Photo by John Adams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

After seeing immediate success in its inaugural season, Atlanta United FC has made soccer a success in Atlanta.

When Arthur Blank made the announcement in spring 2015 that an MLS franchise would be coming to Atlanta, nobody knew how the reaction would be. Many reminisced about how hockey would fail when both the Flames and Thrashers played in Atlanta. Both teams would not win much as the Flames relocated to Calgary and the Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg to become the Jets.

When the logo and colors of Atlanta United FC were revealed, fans started to become excited as they resembled the Falcons’ red and black scheme which also added some gold to it. The next phase was seeing the team in action. Prior to the opening of Mercedes-Benz Stadium in August 2017, Atlanta United played their home games at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Georgia Tech.

Atlanta United’s first game in franchise history was against the New York Red Bulls at home. They would take a 1-0 lead but fell 2-1. They went on to win two games in a row. United finished with a 15-9 win-loss record and finished fourth in the Eastern Conference. Their inaugural season led them to a playoff berth but fell short to Columbus Crew as a result of penalty kicks.

Despite their heartbreaking playoff loss, Atlanta United shattered expectations for an expansion team’s first season in MLS. They saw breakout stars shine such as Josef Martinez, Miguel Almiron, and Héctor Daniel Villalba.

Atlanta United opened their 2018 campaign with a 4-0 loss to Houston Dynamo on the road but little did they know that that loss would be one of the few defeats they would see so far this year. A four-game winning streak followed and then a tie with NYC FC. Another winning streak was capped off at three which included getting a win against NYC FC before running into Sporting Kansas City, which was a 2-0 loss. Their last game resulted in a solid 2-1 win on the road against rival Orlando City.

Atlanta United now stands at 8-2 and first in the Eastern Conference. Fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium continue to break attendance records and make Atlanta United games of the most populated soccer matches in the world. In its 2018 home opener against D.C United, 72,035 were in attendance which broke 2017’s home opener at 71,874.

Atlanta United’s success has made Mercedes-Benz Stadium a very tough environment for opposing teams now. Ever since their loss to Columbus in the playoffs, this team has had something to prove. Just in their second season as a franchise, they are already a favorite to win the MLS Cup.

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The Falcons still remain Super Bowl contenders and the Braves are on the rise in 2018 but Atlanta United may be the first major professional sports franchise to bring a championship to Atlanta since the Braves in 1995. An MLS Cup champion will be crowned in December and Atlanta United FC could very well have a parade on Peachtree in downtown Atlanta.