The Atlanta United players feel fully settled into their home at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and their performance on the field shows it. But every time they hear that famous red, black and gold crowd, they still get chills.
“When the second goal goes in [Sunday], and you look at them, you can really see it,” said Jeff Larentowicz. “The crowd’s incredible. It’s always good to be in front of them and to continue to break records is really astonishing for us.”
Atlanta United’s record-breaking crowd came at a perfect time for the Five Stripes, needing a win to regain their swagger after a disappointing opening match.
“We knew we had to turn things around from last week,” goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “And we knew we were going to need our supporters’ help for that in terms of creating an atmosphere that would be exciting for us to play in and pretty intimidating for other teams and specifically D.C. United to come in here. We wanted to make sure we got off to a good start and I think we did that in the first half for sure.”
And when the team needed them, Atlanta United’s #17 showed up in force, with a record-breaking 72,035 fans in attendance to see the Five Stripes’ first home match of the season.
“This crowd is unbelievable, probably one of the most unbelievable places all of us have ever played,” Greg Garza told reporters after the match. “This city has really hugged us in a way to where it really brought us in as a huge family. That’s thanks to everyone that come to each and every game and support us no matter what the circumstance is. No matter what the score is, they’re always screaming. We’re very fortunate and we never take that for granted.”
Media from all over the world were in Atlanta for the opening match, trying to figure out why soccer is taking over the city, the South and the nation. Garza pointed to the city’s people, the young and diverse Atlantans that make it so special, as the reason behind the success.
“I think Atlanta is such a huge melting pot –– you have so many different cultures from all over –– and soccer is growing in the U.S. I think Arthur [Blank] picked the right time, the right moment, the right place, and we’re just glad as players to be able to enjoy this and have the fans enjoy it as well.”
It’s clear that the players don’t take their record-breaking crowd for granted. After the match, Miguel Almirón could be seen taking selfies, shaking hands, and even holding babies for pictures with the Atlanta United faithful.
“I think that the fans deserve that for the support that they give us every game,” he said, through a translator.
But just like the performance on the field, the team isn't settling for what they have. And Josef Martinez is calling on the fans to continue growing the game off the field as well.
“Next game we hope to see 73,000 [fans],” he said, through a translator. “We thank them because the support is always important, but we don’t want to stick with 72,000. We want 73,000.”
Atlanta United will be hoping for another wall of noise this coming weekend as they try to build on their first win against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Tickets to the match are still available, so make sure you get yours here.