Today, history will be made and ambitions will come to fruition as Atlanta United compete in their first-ever Major League Soccer match and season opener when they host New York Red Bulls in a nationally televised matchup. The expansion club just recently announced that Bobby Dodd Stadium, the venue for the game, has completely sold out, meaning the team will play its inaugural match presented by Equifax in front of a 54,000+ sellout crowd. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET and the match will be broadcast on FS1.
Atlanta United comes off their first preseason with a solid three wins and one loss. While everyone knows that preseason success does not necessarily indicate a prosperous season, it’s a positive outlook nonetheless for an expansion team whose players convened for the very first time just weeks ago.
It’s safe to assume head coach Tata Martino will start his side with an 11 resembling that of Atlanta’s first three preseason matches and line up in his own version of a 4-2-3-1 formation. Alec Kann is a sure in goal, and across the back line most likely Greg Garza, Leandro González Pirez, Michael Parkhurst, and Tyrone Mears. As the central midfield duo, we could see any combination of Chris McCann, Carlos Carmona, Julian Gressel, and Jeff Larentowicz. It’s probable that Atlanta United’s so far lethal front line will be led by their three young, talented, Designated Player signings in Miguel Almirón, Tito Villalba, and Josef Martinez as well as fellow South American, Yamil Asad, who together combined for 10 of the team’s 11 goals in preseason.
New York enters 2017 following two strong seasons, winning the Supporters Shield in 2015 and topping the Eastern Conference regular season table in their 2016 campaign, the third regular season title in the last four years. Accompanying them in their achievements has been one of the league’s most prolific scorers and the recipient of the 2014 & 2016 MLS Golden Boot award, Bradley Wright-Phillips.
RBNY will undoubtedly be a tough first matchup for the MLS expansion side, but Atlanta will try to capitalize on New York’s fatigue after the Red Bulls’ cross-continental trip to Vancouver on Thursday for leg two of their CONCACAF Champion’s League Quarterfinal. With a forceful crowd of over 30,000 season ticket holders, 5,000 raving Atlanta United supporters and a mass of eager spectators from around the country to witness history in the making, the atmosphere will certainly play into Atlanta’s favor. MLS expansion teams have a home record of 2-3-1 in their inaugural matches.
With Atlanta United’s impressive assembly of players, world-class coaching staff, immense number of tickets sales and indisputable hype, the club has set itself up to be one of the most successful expansion sides to join MLS. However, only time will tell if they can make an immediate splash in their first-ever home opener.
If you couldn’t get your ticket, don’t worry, you can follow the historic match through a variety of mediums:
- TV – Fox Sports 1 (FS1) or FoxSportsGo
- Radio – 92.9 The Game (English) or La Mejor Atlanta (Spanish)
- Social Media - @ATLUTD Social Media Channels