I think most people (especially folks like Doug Roberson with the AJC and everyone over at Dirty South Soccer) have already given some great analyses of Atlanta United’s first season from an on-the-field perspective, and while I could certainly attempt to do that as well, it’d just be more of the same. I’ll take some time here to reflect on the off-the-pitch feelings and all the great experiences which have been brought to us here in Atlanta by the Five Stripes.
A-T-L U-T-D. Those six letters meant absolutely nothing just a couple short years ago, and now they carry with them the weight of the largest fanbase in Major League Soccer.
Five stripes, red and black. You walk around in Atlanta nowadays, and you see them everywhere. In bars, on flags, walking about on people’s clothing; the Five Stripes are not just a team, not just a club. They are a culture. Atlanta United has done what they set out to do from day one: they have provided a fantastic product for the entire city of Atlanta to unite around.
While I am neither a founding member nor a member any supporters’ group, I would certainly consider myself an avid, diehard Atlanta United fan (which I think most of y’all have figured out by now). When I went to the first-ever match against Red Bulls, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve been watching soccer for awhile now, but that was the first match I’d ever seen live. Now, having just gone to see the way the city came out to support Atlanta United in their first playoff (the first of many!), I think I can speak for everyone when I say that Atlanta loves its soccer club.
My 3 favorite experiences from this season were:
1) The first-ever goal. I have not ever heard a crowd roar like that. The club will have thousands of goals to its name someday, and I feel blessed to have seen the first. \
2) Watching the mass exodus of people walking to the stadium before every match. Long before the season began, I was one of many who questioned the naming of the club. Now I know that “Atlanta United” is no misnomer. Atlanta United is all-inclusive. Seeing everyone excitedly emerging from the city and converging upon the stadium before a game is just a wonderful thing.
3) The light show at the playoff match. There’s not really anything I can say that can do it justice, so just see for yourself. It was an impromptu showing of passion for the club, and it was awesome. ATLUTD has the best fans in MLS.
Next season’s not far off! I’m not sure what it’ll bring, but I’m sure it won’t disappoint.