Atlanta means family, and no one embodies that spirit more than the 17s. The way they rallied around our new signing, Marcelino Moreno was a perfect example.
On September 22, Atlanta United announced the signing of Moreno. Immediately, 92.9 The Game play-by-play announcer and Soccer Down Here podcast host Jason Longshore made sure he felt right at home. Longshore began selling scarves as a way to welcome Moreno to Atlanta, and even took the gesture one step further by donating all of the proceeds to the Escuela de Futbol Marcelino Moreno at Atlético Palmira in his hometown of Mendoza, Argentina.
“I was looking at this as a time when normally the supporters would have made a huge banner to welcome him, and had chants and songs for his first game here, but that wasn’t going to be possible,” Longshore explained. “I knew it wouldn’t be the normal welcome for him, so I wanted him to see this and get the idea that Atlanta is family and that he’s part of something special here.”
Longshore believed in the idea and wanted it to be successful. He was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the Atlanta United faithful. Fans offered to drive around the metro area and drop off scarves to supporters who purchased them in order to save on postage, making it possible for more scarves to be donated to Palmira.
“The people who bought the scarves are the rock stars here. This was just a kind of crazy idea to do something different to welcome a player, when we couldn’t do it a normal way, on a normal matchday. To have so many people go out of their way to help get these delivered, to donate extra, to spread the word, to make this a big deal, to take the pictures on Saturday and hashtag them and spread it that way,” Longshore continued with pride. “It was as good a welcoming as you could have in an empty building. That was special, and we’re lucky to have people who listen to our show, but are also engaged with the club in a way where they’d go out of their way to do that.”
When Moreno first was selected to join Palmira, it took his community rallying around him to make it work. As a child, Moreno played for his grandfather’s team before being noticed by Palmira. He was asked to join but was unable to at first because he didn’t live close to the school, and didn’t have the money for registration. His neighbors and community were able to lend him a hand and get him into Palmira, helping with transportation, inviting him to stay in their homes, even paying for registration. As he progressed, he earned such a good reputation that Palmira named their soccer school for 4-8 year olds after him. Longshore’s hope is that the money donated to Palmira will help the next Moreno be able to meet his potential.
Moreno heard about the donations and scarves and was truly touched by the 17s. His entrance into MLS looked a little different because of the impact of COVID-19, but his welcome was just as warm.
“It made me feel very proud to know that the club that shaped me was going to receive help,” Moreno shared. “Atlanta United is a very beautiful club and the city is as well. My teammates made me feel welcomed since the first day I arrived. I would like to thank the supporters for the nice gesture. It feels really good to know that they will help so many young kids to continue to train as athletes!”
Moreno plays for Atlanta and for the 17s. Because of Longshore and the supporters, he knows what it means when we say that Atlanta is family. Bienvenido, Marcelino!