Atlanta United FC kicks off their inaugural season on Sunday at Bobby Dodd Stadium against the New York Red Bulls.
The MLS expansion team has generated a ton of excitement around the city. To celebrate, here are 10 things you need to know about Atlanta's newest professional team.
1. First game is SOLD OUT.
Thought there was no interest in a professional soccer team in Atlanta? Wrong. The first game is officially sold out, which means there will be more than 55,000 raucous fans cheering on Atlanta United in their first game.
2. Atlanta United season tickets sales explode
Atlanta United sold more than 30,000 season tickets for their first season. To put that in perspective, the average attendance in the league last year was 21,600.
3. They had a great preseason
Atlanta United went 3-1-0 in their first preseason games. It's impressive considering the team has only been together for about 40 days.
4. The head coach is Tata Martino
Gerardo "Tata" Martino is the head coach. Before coming to Atlanta, he managed the Argentina national team and lead them to the Copa América final twice. He's also coached at Barcelona, Newell's Old Boys and Paraguay in addition to several other clubs. The 54-year-old is from Argentina.
5. You won't see No. 17 on the field because it's you
No. 17 is reserved for Atlanta Supporters as a nod to the fans in the inaugural season. Forward Josef Martinez actually wore No. 17 with his previous clubs. When the team approached him about giving up the number, he was hesitant. But once he found out it was for the fans, he was more than happy to give it up. He now wears No. 7.
6. Atlanta United will play first games at Bobby Dodd Stadium
Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be the official home of Atlanta United. However, the stadium will not open until this summer. So, Atlanta United will play their first eight home games at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Georgia Tech. Atlanta United's true home opener will be the first event at the new $1.5 billion stadium on July 30.
7. They are NOT Atlanta's first professional soccer team
Martino said in a comical press conference on Friday that he didn't know anything about Atlanta before taking the head coaching job because there had never been soccer in Atlanta. That's actually not true. The Atlanta Chiefs were a professional soccer team in Atlanta from 1967 to roughly 1981. In their second season, they were the NASL Champions. Atlanta also had a Women's Professional Soccer team, the Atlanta Beat, from 2001-03 and 2009-11. However, the leagues folded each time. Atlanta also has lower tier soccer teams: Atlanta Silverbacks and Atlanta Silverbacks Women.
8. Nickname is still being decided
Looking for a team name? Atlanta United officially does not have one. The unofficial nickname of the team is The Five Stripes. The team's home kits (or jerseys) have five stripes on them that represent the pillars of character: Unity, Determination, Community, Excellence and Innovation. The black stripes are a nod to Atlanta's history as a railroad town.
However, the team said on Friday that it still does not officially have a nickname, and Atlanta United hope one is created by the fans.
9. There are plenty of support groups to choose from
Atlanta United have a few different support groups who will be leading the charge from the stands. They include Footie Mob ATL, Resurgence, Terminus Legion and Faction. According to their bios, Footie Mob is made up of members from the Atlanta area, Resurgence members pride themselves on the love of the game and city, Terminus Legion stresses positivity and inclusiveness on and off the field, and finally The Faction is made up of coaches, players and parents of soccer players.
10. Atlanta United FC is one of two MLS expansion teams this season
MLS continues to grow. Atlanta is one of two new teams. The other is Minnesota United FC. Their nickname is unofficially The Loons. There are two more teams coming to MLS in the years to come in Los Angeles and Miami.
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