Atlanta United’s first match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium was more than anyone could have imagined: a sold-out 45,314 crowd, a 3-0 victory and an electric atmosphere both on and off the pitch. Team captain Michael Parkhurst says this will be one he talks about for a long time, and a story that will be shared for years to come.
“I will tell them about the crowd, the sellout, the noise, the support that we got leading up to this game and coming into this game,” said Parkhurst. “Everything was just amazing. The walkout and the anthem was great. Obviously, the score was fantastic. A lot of positives to take away from it. A lot of memories.”
The 33-year-old center back added, “It lived up to expectations. The crowd was fantastic. The performance was fantastic. It was a very good evening to start things off here.”
Even players like Parkhurst, who have spent years playing abroad in massive stadiums in front of the loudest crowds in the world, admitted the night was unlike any other they had experienced.
U.S. international Brad Guzan who recently returned to MLS from the English Premier League said, “This one is up there for sure. In terms of the atmosphere and in terms of the walk out, everything about the stadium is world class. For us to be able to call this place home, we are lucky.”
“We are lucky because they are boisterous and excited to be in the stands and they support us and they let their voices be heard. For us, it is an extra boost. You want to play for these guys. You want to play for the fans and put together a good performance.”
Before Sunday, there was some nervous chatter surrounding the stadium transition and if the intense atmosphere would carry over. But defender Greg Garza was quick to shatter the concerns, proclaiming that the energy in Mercedes-Benz Stadium was at least as electric as it was in Bobby Dodd, if not more so.
“As I’ve said before, these are the best fans in the league,” stated Garza. “I think the setup they had where we can walk out and the fans can give us a high-five before the warmups is great. Hopefully, we can bring a win every single game because I don’t have to see their faces (and) how they’re going to look at us after a loss! But it was awesome. The people have always supported us no matter what. Winning or losing, it’s great to have the support of the wonderful city of Atlanta.”
It was a night to remember, but the club won’t have to wait long before they return to their new home as they host the New England Revolution on Wednesday night. A few seats remain for the match, make sure to get your ticket here.