Jason Longshore has worked in just about every area of the game of soccer. He's written recaps, worked in grassroots, served operations roles, even played the game himself. With Atlanta United, he made his way to the radio booth, where he currently serves as an analyst and color commentator on 92.9 The Game.
Another role he's done that people of Atlanta and soccer fans may not (yet) know him for quite as well is archivist. His research began along with his growing interest in the sport. Soon enough, he found himself documenting the waves the sport made throughout the 20th century and keeping a thorough record.
"I would learn something new what felt like everyday about either a person that was involved or a player or about a game or about a team, and it was just so fascinating to me that when I would have time, I'd keep adding to it and finding new little nuggets to the history that can't get lost," Longshore says.
Growing up in the 80s and 90s, Atlanta at the time was the capital of college football. A certain baseball team in the city was growing into a regional brand. But the same year that Longshore discovered soccer, the sport’s largest competition happened: the 1986 World Cup. Watching that World Cup had a profound impact on Longshore and set in motion a deep appreciation for the game.
"That week or so changed my life," Longshore says. "It made the game that I'd started to like really make sense. It gave it context and I understood what it was supposed to look like at the top level. I fell in love with hit."
His work seems invaluable now because information, especially on the early days of soccer, isn’t easy to find. To get a sense of what soccer was like at the turn of the century, in the 1950s and 60s, in the high schools and colleges during those times, it takes a different approach. It’s a little more old school. And a lot more time consuming – visiting libraries, reading books, scouring old newspapers. The work of archivists and historians of the sport.
"We can't let some of these stories vanish," Longshore says. "It's so important to document it and tell it, but to tell it thoroughly and correctly, and that's the balancing act I'm always trying to it."
For this reason, and for his vast knowledge, Longshore will be our guide as we take a closer look at the history of soccer in Atlanta with our new podcast series and examine what brought Atlanta, of all places, to the top of American soccer. What made this ground so fertile for the sport to grow? Who planted the first seeds? And did they ever think it would grow into what it is now? A beautiful game that unites a city, reflects a fan base and can firmly, and proudly, stake its claim as the capital of soccer in the United States.
Before we cover all of that, before we get to Atlanta United, the trophies, the winning, the sellout crowds, the new home of U.S. Soccer, it’s important to know how we got here.
"The history of soccer in Atlanta is rich and mostly unknown, but we don't get to where we are today with five figure crowds on a regular basis and sellouts and Atlanta United jerseys and flags everywhere all over town. We don't get to that without that history," Longshore says.
'History of Atlanta Soccer' podcast
"The History of Atlanta Soccer" presented by Piedmont is a new audio series from Atlanta United that tracks the growth of soccer in the city, from the turn of the century to organized teams like the Atlanta Chiefs, Silverbacks and Atlanta United.