Atlanta United FC kicks off MLS Season Sunday

| February 28, 2017

ATLANTA — In what many believe has been a long time coming, Major League Soccer is about to have a new home in Georgia.  And, in a very big way.

Thanks to the ownership and support of Atlanta Falcons’ owner and former Home Depot founder Arthur Blank, Georgia soccer fans will finally have their own club to support: Atlanta United FC.

And support it they are.

The club has already broken all existing MLS expansion team season ticket sales records as they surpass 30,000 season ticket holders.  In fact, when the club kicks off the season Sunday at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium, an expected 45,000 will be on hand to chant, sing, and support the red and black.  The club is playing at Tech until the extraordinary Mercedes-Benz Stadium is completed later this summer.

The supporters will have a lot to cheer for, too.  Blank’s management team did not use the same MLS “playbook” for setting up a club. Like everything Blank does it’s first class.  Instead of signing a few “over the hill” stars from England and fill out the bulk of the roster with underpaid domestic players, Atlanta United has chosen to sign not one, not two, but three Designed Players, the MLS moniker for players that exceed normal MLS budgetary constraints.

Players such as Paraguay national team star Miguel Almiron, recently coveted by England’s Arsenal FC, Venezuela’s Josef Martinez, and Argentina national team player Hector Villalba, headline a deep and talented roster sure to allow the club to compete in it’s first year of play.

And to lead this team, Blank’s staff has hired legendary coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino.  Martino has led both Argentina and Paraguay’s national team in World Cup play, including a stint where Argentina was ranked World Number 1 by FIFA.  As a club manager, he has also led no less than FC Barcelona, one of not only Europe’s, but the world’s biggest clubs.  He manages to an attacking, pressing style sure to suit both the players he has and the club’s supporters.

And no self-respecting soccer club can play without organized supporters’ groups.  Even before the club was approved and ownership awarded, supporters groups have been formed, ready and waiting.  Groups such as the Terminus Legion, Footie Mob, The Faction, and Resurgence are teed up and ready to sing and support their new hometown club.

Further, the club has recently completed a state of the art youth academy and training center in Cobb County.  This will not only support the club, but area soccer players alike with increased visibility and attention.

Atlanta United’s first opponent will be New York Red Bull in Atlanta.  The club has already played in exhibition games and tournaments, having defeated last year’s MLS Cup holders Seattle Sounders FC and lower division clubs from Chattanooga and Charleston (which happens to be Atlanta United’s lower division affiliate club, which plays in the USL).

Kickoff for the game is 7:30 on Sunday.  The game will be broadcast on FS1 on most cable and satellite systems.  All games will be broadcast regionally on Fox Sports Southeast, and nationally on ESPN and Fox Sports Networks.

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