This Saturday, Atlanta United Founding Members, supporters, friends, and families gathered together to celebrate a crucial moment in the Academy’s history: the first ever home match for the U18 team as they faced off against Chargers SC from Florida.
The event was coined #PackPace due to the mass assembling of fans and the name of the venue (Pace Academy’s Riverview Athletic Complex). The day kicked off with a parking lot tailgate consisting of music, food and games, followed by a march into the stadium led by supporters groups. Over 1,000 spectators piled in to see the event including club owner, Arthur Blank, who was welcomed as the honorary guest for the coin toss.
The match started fairly even with both sides creating scoring chances, leading to one goal each at the half. However, with the constant, amplified sound of Atlanta United chants from the crowd, the U18s impressed in the second half as they cruised to a 5-1 victory. Among the goal scorers were Edwin Figueroa, Cheick Fofana, and with a three goal standout performance, striker Patrick Okonkwo, who was termed “Hat-trick Patrick” after the match.
Academy Director, Richard Money, noted how important and beneficial this type of atmosphere was in terms of the players’ experience and confidence as they continue on with the season.
The U16s followed up the U18 match in a similar manner, fighting through an uneventful first half, but then exploding in the second, finishing the match with a clean sheet and 3-0 win. Saul Tinoco sparked the scoring with two goals and capped it off with an assist to striker James Brighton.
Overall, a dominating performance from the Atlanta United Academy teams on Saturday and a great start to the season for the players and coaches. As for the supporters, it proved promising to know that all the talent they witnessed this weekend could be the future faces they’ll see on Atlanta United’s first team in just a few years.