Saturday’s thrilling finish against Orlando City marked Atlanta United’s final match at Bobby Dodd Stadium. While an exciting future awaits at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the players took a moment after the match to reflect and thank the fans for what they had created in their first home.
“Anytime when you’re in a part-time situation, you’re looking forward to the full-time,” Captain Michael Parkhurst said. “But we weren’t having that scenario where it’s like, ‘We can’t wait to get out of here and into our new home,’ because we enjoyed it so much. The atmosphere here was fantastic. The fans were awesome. So, we really enjoyed our time here.”
The unwavering support of the Five Stripes nation has become a trademark of Atlanta United’s inaugural season. Every home game so far has been a sell-out, and the team leads the league in attendance in its first season.
“To be here and to be able to play these games in front of this crowd and this tremendous support that we get for our team, this is what it’s about,” said goalkeeper Brad Guzan. “As a professional athlete, this is what you want. You want to play in front of unbelievable crowd support and when you play at home and you play on the road.”
Bobby Dodd Stadium was certainly good to the players in the standings, with the team’s 6-2-1 home record so far a big reason for Atlanta United’s success so far this season. The players were quick to point they fought hard to make sure it didn’t end on a bad note.
“I’m glad I was able to finish it out with a goal,” Tito Villalba said through a translator.
“It feels good to finish off Bobby Dodd with a tie and not to go home with a loss,” said defender Greg Garza. “This atmosphere is unreal. I hope we can do the same thing at Mercedes-Benz (Stadium).”
Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz has seen plenty of crowds across Major League Soccer. His twelve-year career has brought him from title contenders to bottom-dwellers, the east coast, west coast and everywhere in between. But the crowd in Atlanta has made an instant impression.
“I think it’s been one of the best stretches and most enjoyable for me of my career, honestly,” Larentowicz said. “Coming out onto the field against the Red Bulls [in the first match] was probably one of the coolest experiences of my career so I’m going to miss it. But new things ahead, exciting things ahead.”
While the players acknowledged the good times in the first half of the season, they’re excited to see how the passionate roots Atlanta United supporters have already put down will continue to evolve in their permanent home.
“Now moving to Mercedes-Benz (Stadium), it’s going to be fantastic,” said Brad Guzan. We’re really excited. We’re excited to say thank you to Bobby Dodd and everyone affiliated with this stadium, but at the same time, we’re excited to get into Mercedes- Benz (Stadium) and put our stamp on that stadium as well.”
The next chapter is just around the corner. After a three-game road trip in August, Atlanta United will return to Atlanta for the first ever match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against FC Dallas on September 10th. Click here to make sure you’ve reserved your spot.