Thursday night saw Atlanta United capture their first-ever MLS Cup visit as they took down the New York Red Bulls with an aggregate score of 3-1. The Five Stripes will be hoping to give the Atlanta natives a reason to celebrate a championship after several disappointing results over recent years. Some fans are saying they believe this team can break the curse. Can they?
Well, Atlanta United is “different.” The team that many people expected to fail due to their location in the deep south has not only exceeded expectations but have grown the sport in the entire country. Consistently bringing in an attendance of over 70,000, Atlanta has broken plenty of attendance records. However, the numbers are only half of the story.
Atlanta’s fans bring an atmosphere that no other team in the league could dream of. The fans rarely sit down and are constantly bouncing around as they run through their various chants. The players feed off that, and when both the team and crowd are at their best, viewers are bound to feel the excitement, whether you want them to win or not.
Well, let me just show you the moments these fans can produce.
ATL always rockin’ 🔊🔊🔊 pic.twitter.com/Yyb1xzxsw1
— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) March 18, 2018
Now that you may be slightly more enticed to watch the MLS Cup Final than you were five minutes ago, let me give you a list full of five reasons why you should have no doubt.
1.) The Crowd
I feel like the above video mixed with my words should have been convincing enough, but if not, I’m happy to continue speaking about it. For a club in this country to consistently be amongst the highest attendances in world football on a weekly basis is nothing short of extraordinary.
This game will comfortably break the MLS Cup Final attendance record and could break the all-time league record for any game, which of course is held by Atlanta. It will be the most intense game in the young league’s history, at least in terms of the crowd, and will be a spectacle you’ll regret missing.
2.) MIGUEL ALMIRON
This one is easy for people who have watched the league over the past two seasons. Miguel Almiron, Atlanta United’s all-star midfielder, is set to play his last match for the club. The Paraguayan has truly set the standard for Designated Players in MLS and has not disappointed on Atlanta’s current playoff run.
Almiron is linked with a handful of clubs in the English Premier League. Arsenal and Tottenham are amongst those who are chasing the #10’s signature in the January Transfer Window. “Miggy” is set to go for an MLS record fee (believed to be upwards of $30 million) and hopes to be followed by many in the future. Almiron has helped shift outsider’s view on the league from “retirement league” to “development league.” Quite the difference.
3.) JOSEF MARTINEZ
While I don’t want to make this a list of individuals that should draw your attention, it’s hard to ignore the Venezuelan striker. Martinez came to America hoping to turn his career around. After impressing in South America, Martinez was brought to Switzerland before eventually going to Italy. Things didn’t work out the way he had hoped, and Atlanta was ready to give him a chance to revive his career.
If Josef’s sole goal in joining MLS was to attract more attention from European clubs, he doesn’t even have to play in the Cup final. This season, Martinez broke the single-season scoring record and been forced to deal with rumors of several clubs scouting him all season. If you want to see one of the best goalscorers in MLS history have the opportunity to score one of the biggest goals of his career, tune in December 8th.
4.) DOUBTED BY ALL BUT THEMSELVES
Well, the financial backing was there from day one, but that’s not the sense of doubt I’m talking about. When it was announced that Atlanta had been awarded an expansion club, many had doubt. In fact, most had doubt. Even when United was building their impressive roster, most expected a lack of fans.
When season tickets were available, those in Atlanta’s offices must have been overwhelmed. Two years later, the club has a waiting list if you wish to purchase a season ticket. The club’s first game brought in 55,000+ fans which is more than most MLS teams have ever brought in. In fact, outside of Europe’s elite and a handful of clubs in South America, it’s more than most clubs around the world have hosted on a single night.
If Atlanta United win the MLS Cup in just their second season, it would be the ultimate slap in the face to all their doubters. Frankly, the casual viewer loves the team that was doubted, especially a team as fun as Atlanta is.
5.) 23 YEARS
As I mentioned, it’s been quite some time since Atlanta won a trophy in a major sports league. 23 years to be exact. The Atlanta Braves took home a World Series in the 90’s and fans in Atlanta have since been left frustrated. They’ve had good teams, they’ve had bad teams, but none of them have won a trophy for their city.
The city of Atlanta has quickly gotten behind United, even those unfamiliar with soccer. Part of it is because the team has been so successful out of the gate, and part of it is because the team is so entertaining. However, perhaps the biggest reason is that the city believes United can break the curse.
So, get ready. Major League Soccer is about to host a historic Cup final. Are you going to witness it?