On Saturday, Atlanta United marked yet another milestone in their inaugural season as the team arrived at their new home of Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the first time. For most of the players, this was the first time seeing the facility since its beginning stages and the recently finished state-of-the-art facility in downtown Atlanta left the players in absolute awe.
“No words can describe what the stadium is,” said defender Greg Garza, “this is the first time I’ve actually seen it from the outside in. It’s beautiful.”
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan added, "The facilities are unbelievable…whether it’s the locker room, whether it’s the training room, whether it’s the area for after the game, before the game, they took everything into consideration for us…they’re not many stadiums, if any, in fact I don’t think there are any that can compare to this.”
Coach Tata Martino, who’s coached all around the world, including Barcelona and the national teams of Argentina and Paraguay, was blown away by its marvel. “Last summer I had the chance to see some really nice stadiums during Copa America like the ones in San Francisco and Santa Clara,” said Martino through a translator, “but this stadium is exceptional and it’s great for the city that we have a place like this.”
At the open training on Saturday morning, more than 20,000 fans and season ticket members showed up to welcome their team to the new stadium. They’ve been behind their club from the beginning and after all the support they’ve shown through nine-straight sellouts, Guzan, talking about Saturday’s open house, said, “It’s the least we can do for them.”
“It’s wonderful, these people have backed us up from the very beginning. This was so unexpected for me coming from Mexico where it’s a religion. Coming to the States, I didn’t realize that many Georgians actually liked soccer. It’s crazy, it’s wonderful.”
With the undying songs, chants and cheers from the raving Atlanta faithful, the players are looking forward to how their noise amplifies in their new home.
“I’m not sure how they measure sound or what not, but something tells me it’s going to be pretty loud in here,” stated Guzan, “and that’s going to be an advantage for us so we’re looking forward to that part of it.”
With a record of 6-2-1 at home, ATL UTD boast one of the best records in the league despite playing the fewest amount of home games thus far. With six straight home matches in September beginning on the 10th against FC Dallas, the expansion side hopes to enhance that record in Mercedes-Benz Stadium and continue to build a fortress in the heart of the ATL.
“It’s an amazing stadium, an amazing field,” said Garza, “take advantage of it and hopefully we can use this as we did Bobby Dodd and make this a home advantage.”
Atlanta United’s new venue is certainly one they are happy to call home and Coach Martino summed up Mercedes-Benz Stadium by declaring, “I think it’s a point of pride for the city and for the U.S. to have a stadium like this.”