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Atlanta United FC

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Atlanta United
Atlanta MLS.svg
Full name Atlanta United FC
Nickname(s) unofficial: The Five Stripes
Founded April 16, 2014; 3 years ago (2014-04-16)
Stadium Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Ground Capacity 42,500 (expandable to at least 71,874[1])
Owner Arthur Blank
President Darren Eales
Head coach Gerardo Martino
League Major League Soccer
2017 Eastern Conference: 4th
Overall: 4th
Playoffs: Knockout Round
Website Club website
Current season

Atlanta United FC is an American professional soccer club based in Atlanta, Georgia, that began play in 2017 as a member of the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer.[2] The club, which was announced by the league as an expansion franchise on April 16, 2014, is owned and operated by Home Depot co-founder and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank. The team plays their home matches at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

History[edit]

As the largest metropolitan area without an MLS franchise,[3] Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank's AMB Group submitted a bid in 2008 for an expansion franchise,[4] but withdrew the bid in early 2009 due to its inability to get a stadium built.[5] Despite the withdrawal of the bid, Dan Courtemanche, MLS's executive vice president, said on July 10 that regular discussion with Blank regarding Atlanta's potential as expansion market were occurring.[6]

On May 2011, the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg and became the Winnipeg Jets. The Thrashers relocation helped re-start the efforts and talks of bringing an MLS expansion team to Atlanta.

In May 2012, while the Falcons' proposed new stadium was going through the approval process, MLS Commissioner Don Garber cited Atlanta as one of three "intriguing" markets for future league expansion.[7] Additionally, when Blank presented his case for a new stadium at the Falcons' annual meeting with season ticket holders, he stated that an additional benefit of the stadium was that it could help attract a Major League Soccer franchise and potentially host World Cup matches.[8] Later that year, in November, Garber said that if the Falcons could complete plans for a new stadium, MLS would "try to figure out how an MLS team could be part of their plans."[9]

Rich McKay, Falcons president and CEO, said in 2013 that the team was "open to various options, including [its] ownership of a team or someone else owning a team".[10] Dan Courtemanche said, "We are big believers in the Atlanta market," and cited the city's growing Hispanic population and corporations that could serve as its sponsors.[10] Then, in March 2013, the city and the Falcons agreed to financing terms,[11] and in May 2013, the Georgia Department of Economic Development board approved $30 million in bonds to finance the land purchase for the new stadium.[12] The stadium was set to open in 2017 and could be configured for professional soccer.[10] Atlanta remained at the top of the list for an MLS expansion team, as Garber, in the December 2013 MLS State of the League address, emphasized that it was a goal to continue to expand in the southeast, and added, "if we can continue to advance our discussions positively with Arthur [Blank] and the [Atlanta] Falcons, we hope to be able to get a situation finalized so that could potentially be our second team. Orlando being the first, maybe Atlanta or Miami would be the second or the third."[13][14] In December 2013, Garber said the league was making progress in discussions with the Falcons and that the stadium situation was finalized.[15] Negotiations continued with Courtemanche saying in January 2014 that Atlanta "remains a great prospect for MLS expansion,"[16] and in February 2014, Rich McKay confirming the parties were "far along in negotiations."[17]

Finally, on April 16, 2014, Blank announced that MLS had awarded an expansion franchise to his group to begin play in 2017. Atlanta became the second franchise awarded in the southeastern United States in five months, following the Orlando City SC announcement in late 2013. The Southeast had been without any MLS team since the Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny clubs were dissolved in 2001.[18]

Atlanta lost their first regular season MLS game 2–1 to New York Red Bulls at Bobby Dodd Stadium with 55,297 in attendance. Yamil Asad scored the first goal in club history.[19] A week later, the team registered their first win on the road with a 6–1 away defeat of fellow expansion team Minnesota United FC.[20] Atlanta United registered their first win at home on March 18, 2017 against Chicago Fire, who were down to ten men in the eleventh minute, with a 4–0 final score in front of a sold-out Bobby Dodd Stadium.[21] Following their move to Mercedes–Benz Stadium, the team continued leading the league in attendance averaging more than 48,000 in their home matches, breaking attendance records in U.S. soccer history. In their first season, Atlanta clinched a berth in the playoffs finishing in fourth place. In their first playoff game, United faced Columbus Crew SC in front of an MLS playoff record of more than 67,000 spectators at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. After 120 minutes of scoreless action the match was decided through penalties where United were eliminated.[citation needed]

Colors and badge[edit]

Arthur Blank stated that fans would be involved in choosing the name, logo and "a color scheme that'll work with the red and black with a little bit of gold mixed in"[22] (the colors used by the Falcons when they launched in 1966).[23]

On June 25, 2015, Sports Illustrated reported that the team will be named Atlanta United FC. The official announcement of the team's name took place on July 7.[24] Franchise president Darren Eales explained that the name was chosen based on a survey of the team's supporters and used words the supporters most positively related to the potential team.[25][26] Eales also stated that the Founder's Group meeting would still be held on July 7 and the logo for the new team would be unveiled.[25]

Symbols[edit]

The team's name, logo and colors were unveiled on July 7, 2015. The logo features a circle reminiscent of the city's seal and Olympic heritage with a bold "A" at the center of the circle. Behind the "A" are five black and red stripes representing the five pillars of the club: unity, determination, community, excellence and innovation.[27] The team's official colors are black (a symbol of strength and power), victory red (representing pride and passion), and gold (epitomizing a commitment to excellence).[28] The team has become unofficially known as "The Five Stripes" based on the five pillars of the club.[29]

Stadium[edit]

Mercedes-Benz Stadium[edit]

While Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which is also home to the NFL's Falcons, has a capacity of up to 83,000.[18] Stands are retractable to accommodate a larger field and allow better sight lines, while curtains are used to close off the upper section to create an intimate atmosphere. Blank also said, "There will never be an MLS game in Atlanta where NFL lines are shown on the field."[3] When it opened in 2017, its capacity for soccer was set to 71,000, but the upper level will be curtained off for all but two regular season games in order to reduce capacity to 42,500.[30] In January 2016, the opening of the stadium was pushed back three months to June 2017.[31] Atlanta United was originally scheduled to move into Mercedes-Benz Stadium on July 30, 2017; however, the complexity of the eight-panel retractable roof caused another delay in the stadium's opening, and the club's first match in the new stadium took place on September 10, 2017, against FC Dallas. The match against Orlando City SC on July 29, 2017, was moved to Bobby Dodd Stadium, and two home fixtures scheduled in August were moved to later dates.[32] Steve Cannon, CEO of Atlanta United's parent company AMB Group, stated that no further home matches would be hosted at Bobby Dodd Stadium after July due to the Yellow Jackets having priority for the stadium.[33]

In August 2015, Atlanta United FC announced plans for training facilities and team headquarters.[34]

Bobby Dodd Stadium[edit]

A view of Bobby Dodd Stadium during a football game where Atlanta had played in its inagural season.

The club played its home matches in the first half of the 2017 MLS season at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium until Mercedes-Benz Stadium was completed in construction.[35][36] Although the club sought a balanced home-and-away schedule for their duration at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta United did not play at home for most of April to avoid conflicts with the Yellow Jackets' spring football scrimmages.[37] According to club officials, the Georgia Dome was not considered a viable option to temporarily host the club, as delaying the Dome's planned demolition would also delay the completion of Mercedes-Benz Stadium.[38]

Ownership[edit]

Arthur Blank is the owner of Atlanta United FC

Team owner Arthur M. Blank is an American businessman and a co-founder of The Home Depot.[39] He is also known for his philanthropy and his ownership of the Atlanta Falcons in the National Football League.[40]

Players[edit]

Current roster[edit]

As of December 10, 2017 [41][42]
No. Position Player Nation
1 Goalkeeper Guzan, BradBrad Guzan  United States
3 Defender Parkhurst, MichaelMichael Parkhurst  United States
4 Defender Garza, GregGreg Garza  United States
5 Defender González Pirez, LeandroLeandro González Pirez  Argentina
6 Defender Robinson, MilesMiles Robinson (GA)  United States
7 Forward Martínez, JosefJosef Martínez (DP)  Venezuela
8 Midfielder Kratz, KevinKevin Kratz  Germany
10 Midfielder Almirón, MiguelMiguel Almirón (DP)  Paraguay
14 Midfielder Carmona, CarlosCarlos Carmona  Chile
15 Midfielder Villalba, HéctorHéctor Villalba (DP)  Argentina
16 Midfielder McCann, ChrisChris McCann  Ireland
18 Midfielder Larentowicz, JeffJeff Larentowicz  United States
19 Forward Vazquez, BrandonBrandon Vazquez  United States
20 Midfielder Goslin, ChrisChris Goslin (HGP)  United States
22 Defender Ambrose, MikeyMikey Ambrose  United States
24 Midfielder Gressel, JulianJulian Gressel  Germany
25 Goalkeeper Kann, AlecAlec Kann  United States
28 Midfielder Wheeler-Omiunu, AndrewAndrew Wheeler-Omiunu  United States
29 Forward Peterson, JacobJacob Peterson  United States
30 Midfielder Carleton, AndrewAndrew Carleton (HGP)  United States
33 Forward Williams, RomarioRomario Williams  Jamaica
Defender Bello, GeorgeGeorge Bello (HGP)  United States
Defender Escobar, FrancoFranco Escobar  Argentina
Goalkeeper Hildebrandt, MitchMitch Hildebrandt  United States
Forward Kunga, LagosLagos Kunga (HGP)  United States
Forward Okonkwo, PatrickPatrick Okonkwo (HGP)  Nigeria
Midfielder Oliveira, KévinKévin Oliveira  Cape Verde
Midfielder Pasher, TylerTyler Pasher  Canada

Retired numbers[edit]

17 - On February 10, 2017, Atlanta United announced that the number 17 would be reserved for the fans. The number marks the year of the team's first inaugural season in the MLS. Atlanta United aims to recognize that from the very beginning, the fans, the city, and the people define the spirit and essence of this club.[43]

Broadcasting[edit]

Rights to all Atlanta United FC matches not broadcast by Major League Soccer's national television partners are held by Fox Sports Networks. Most of the team's games will be televised by either Fox Sports South or Fox Sports Southeast, which will also carry team programming. A small number of matches will be broadcast on over-the-air television by WUPA in the event of scheduling conflicts with the two channels. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.[44][45]

The BBC veteran Alan Green is the club's television play-by-play announcer. Former MLS defender Dan Gargan is the color commentator and Brittany Arnold is the pregame and postgame show host and sideline reporter.

Radio rights are held by WZGC/92.9 The Game. Commentators are Adam Schick (play-by-play) and Jason Longshore (color).

Staff[edit]

Technical staff[edit]

Role Name Nation
Head coach Martino, GerardoGerardo Martino  Argentina
Assistant coach Sala, DaríoDarío Sala  Argentina
Assistant coach Theiler, JorgeJorge Theiler  Argentina
Goalkeeping coach Hyde, AronAron Hyde  England
Head of sports science Alexander, RyanRyan Alexander  United States

Executive staff[edit]

Role Name Nation
Owner Blank, ArthurArthur Blank  United States
President Eales, DarrenDarren Eales  England
Technical director Bocanegra, CarlosCarlos Bocanegra  United States
Vice president Rodriguez, AnnAnn Rodriguez  United States
Academy director Annan, TonyTony Annan  United States
Academy director of soccer operations McDonough, PaulPaul McDonough  United States
President history
Head Coach history

Records[edit]

Season P W L D PTS GF GA Position Open Cup Playoffs CCL
2017 34 15 9 10 55 70 40 4th (East) 5th Round (Miami FC 2-3) Knockout Round (Columbus Crew 0(1)–0(3) Not eligible

Top goalscorers[edit]

As of October 22, 2017 [46]
Place Name Years MLS Playoffs U.S. Open Cup Total
1 Venezuela Josef Martínez 2017– 19 0 1 20
2 Argentina Héctor Villalba 2017– 13 0 0 13
3 Paraguay Miguel Almirón 2017– 9 0 0 9
4 Argentina Yamil Asad 2017– 7 0 0 7
5 Germany Julian Gressel 2017– 5 0 1 6
6 United States Brandon Vazquez 2017– 1 0 2 3
United States Jacob Peterson 2017– 3 0 0
8 Chile Carlos Carmona 2017– 2 0 0 2
United States Greg Garza 2017– 2 0 0
Trinidad and Tobago Kenwyne Jones 2017 2 0 0

Supporters[edit]

Atlanta United currently has four Supporter Groups identified on their homepage: Terminus Legion, Resurgence, Footie Mob, and the Faction.[47]

Terminus Legion is a supporter group that was created in March 2011 by graphic designer Matt Stigall, who wanted a way to show that Atlanta fans would support soccer despite the perception of the city as a "lazy sports town". The group was named after the name given to Atlanta when it was first settled, and its logo featuring a cow catcher and railroad ties reflect the city's history as a locomotive hub. In the days since the expansion team was awarded, its membership doubled to over 500, and in the time leading up to 2017, Stigall said the group would support "all Atlanta soccer" including the Atlanta Silverbacks of the NASL and at the grassroots level, and make road trips to D.C. United and Orlando City matches.[48]

By December 2015, the supporters of the new MLS team had already pledged to purchase more than 29,000 season tickets.[49]

On September 12, 2017, Atlanta United announced that the club had sold more than 69,256 tickets, including season tickets and single game tickets, for the game against Orlando at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 16, with official attendance of 70,425. The previous record was held by LA Galaxy with 69,255 tickets sold.[50] Atlanta is the first Major League Soccer team to surpass 70,000 in attendance. There are cases of double-header games that include the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United. Atlanta wanted to break the record a second time by opening up the whole stadium a second time. On October 5, 2017, the club announced they had sold more than 70,456 tickets for the match against Toronto FC, who were leading the league at that point.[51] They also look to beat the highest average attendance record for professional soccer in the United States, which was perviously held by New York Cosmos. In doing so, they also broke the MLS average attendance record currently held by Seattle Sounders FC.[52]

On October 22, 2017, Atlanta broke the record a second time, selling 71,874 tickets.[53] The club had an average of 48,200 in attendance making the playoffs knockout round in their first season.[54]

Kit sponsor[edit]

On July 12, 2016 Atlanta United announced American Family Insurance as their primary jersey sponsor for the senior team. The terms and length of the contract between the team and the new sponsor have not yet been disclosed.[55] SunTrust Banks is the official kit sponsor at the academy level.[56]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Atlanta United sets MLS attendance records for single season and game". ESPN FC. October 22, 2017. Retrieved October 23, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Atlanta to join Eastern Conference in 2017, Minnesota to compete in West". Major League Soccer. August 20, 2016. Retrieved November 19, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Newberry, Paul (April 16, 2014). "Atlanta Lands MLS Expansion Team for 2017". Fox Sports. Associated Press. Retrieved April 16, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Falcons owner Blank puts in bid for MLS franchise". USA Today. October 14, 2008. Retrieved June 7, 2012. 
  5. ^ Manasso, John (January 16, 2009). "Blank withdraws MLS soccer team bid". Atlanta Business Chronicle. 
  6. ^ Doug Roberson (July 15, 2010). "Atlanta may be considered by potential MLS owner". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved June 7, 2012. 
  7. ^ Greg Lalas (May 11, 2012). "MLS monitoring "intriguing" expansion cities after NY". MLSsoccer.com. Retrieved June 7, 2012. 
  8. ^ Wheatley, Thomas (May 17, 2012). "Blank to season-ticket holders: new stadium could bring Major League Soccer team, benefit nearby neighborhoods". Creative Loafing Atlanta. Retrieved February 15, 2014. 
  9. ^ Goff, Steven (November 26, 2012). "MLS commissioner's state of league". Soccer Insider. The Washington Post. 
  10. ^ a b c Amy, Wenk; Maria Saporta (April 26, 2013). "Falcons CEO: Atlanta needs MLS team". Atlanta Business Chronicle. 
  11. ^ "Terms for Falcons stadium reached". Associated Press. March 7, 2013. 
  12. ^ Trubey, J. Scott (May 23, 2013). "Bonds approved for Falcons stadium land purchase". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 
  13. ^ Galarcep, Ives (December 3, 2013). "GARBER REAFFIRMS MIAMI, ATLANTA AS EXPANSION FAVORITES". Soccer by Ives. 
  14. ^ Straus, Brian (September 13, 2013). "MLS expansion team likely heading Atlanta's way". Planet Fútbol. Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on May 13, 2014. 
  15. ^ Borg, Simon (December 3, 2013). "MLS commissioner Don Garber discusses expansion, scheduling in latest State of the League address". MLSsoccer.com. 
  16. ^ Roberson, Doug (January 28, 2014). "Atlanta remains a candidate for MLS expansion". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved February 15, 2014. 
  17. ^ Stafford, Leon (February 6, 2014). "Atlanta remains a candidate for MLS expansion". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved February 15, 2014. 
  18. ^ a b Creditor, Avi (April 16, 2014). "MLS awards 2017 expansion franchise to Atlanta, owner Arthur Blank". Planet Fútbol. SI.com. Retrieved April 16, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Atlanta United FC vs. New York Red Bulls - MatchCenter Boxscore". Retrieved March 7, 2017. 
  20. ^ "Cold open: Minnesota United brutally exposed as ill-equipped for the task". The Guardian. March 14, 2017. 
  21. ^ "Atlanta United 4, Chicago Fire 0". MLS. March 18, 2017. 
  22. ^ Singer, Mike (April 16, 2014). "MLS awards Atlanta, Falcons owner Blank new team for 2017". Eye on Sports. CBSSports.com. Retrieved May 29, 2014. 
  23. ^ Straus, Brian (April 18, 2014). "Former Crew GM, current Falcons VP confident Blank, MLS will be fruitful combo". Planet Fútbol. SI.com. Archived from the original on April 23, 2014. Retrieved May 29, 2014. 
  24. ^ Straus, Brian (June 25, 2015). "Atlanta United FC: MLS's 2017 expansion team selects its name". Planet Futbol. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved June 5, 2015. 
  25. ^ a b Roberson, Doug (June 25, 2015). "Eales: Atlanta United FC name is 'authentic'". Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved June 26, 2015. 
  26. ^ Borg, Simon (June 25, 2015). "Atlanta United FC: Get the lowdown on the newest team name in MLS, as selected by the supporters". Major League Soccer. Retrieved June 25, 2015. 
  27. ^ MLSsoccer staff (July 7, 2015). "MLS expansion team Atlanta United FC unveil logo, club colors and new hashtag #ATLUTD". Major League Soccer. Retrieved July 7, 2015. 
  28. ^ "About The Club". Atlanta United FC. Retrieved November 20, 2016. 
  29. ^ McQuade, Alex. "10 things you need to know about Atlanta United FC". WXIA. 
  30. ^ Roberson, Doug (September 7, 2017). "Atlanta United hopes fan bring the noise to Mercedes-Benz Stadium". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 
  31. ^ "Opening of Atlanta United FC's Mercedes-Benz Stadium pushed to June 2017". Major League Soccer. January 22, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2016. 
  32. ^ Roberson, Doug. "Atlanta United president understands fans' frustration". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved April 21, 2017. 
  33. ^ "Roof construction delays Mercedes Benz Stadium opening". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved June 5, 2017. 
  34. ^ "Atlanta United FC unveil plans for state-of-the-art training facility and team headquarters". Major League Soccer. August 5, 2015. Retrieved August 6, 2015. 
  35. ^ Stejskal, Sam (October 5, 2016). "Atlanta United to open 2017 season at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium". Major League Soccer. Retrieved November 6, 2016. 
  36. ^ Roberson, Doug. "Atlanta United will play first home games at Georgia Tech". The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  37. ^ Roberson, Doug. "Atlanta United won't play at Georgia Tech in most of April". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved October 18, 2016. 
  38. ^ "Tickets FAQ–Atlanta United FC". Retrieved December 9, 2016. 
  39. ^ "Our History". homedepot.com. The Home Depot. Archived from the original on January 21, 2011. Retrieved January 8, 2011. 
  40. ^ "ARTHUR BLANK - OWNER AND CEO". atlantafalcons.com. Archived from the original on January 8, 2011. Retrieved January 8, 2011. 
  41. ^ Boehm, Charles (July 22, 2016). "Atlanta United sign Argentine winger Hector Villalba as Young DP". Major League Soccer. Retrieved July 22, 2016. 
  42. ^ "Roster". Atlanta United FC. Retrieved December 13, 2016. 
  43. ^ Rossitch, Eric. "Atlanta, Number 17 is for You". Atlanta United FC. Retrieved February 10, 2017. 
  44. ^ "Atlanta United announces TV partnership". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved February 22, 2017. 
  45. ^ "Analyzing the Atlanta United broadcast deal". Dirty South Soccer (SBNation). Vox Media. Retrieved February 22, 2017. 
  46. ^ "Atlanta United FC Player Stats". Major League Soccer. Retrieved July 29, 2017. 
  47. ^ "Supporters Groups | Atlanta United". Retrieved February 18, 2017. 
  48. ^ Borg, SImon (April 18, 2014). "Meet the newest MLS supporters group: Atlanta's Terminus Legion". MLSSoccer.com. Retrieved May 29, 2014. 
  49. ^ "December 2015 Atlanta United season ticket deposit update". Dirty South Soccer. Retrieved January 19, 2016. 
  50. ^ Stejskal, Sam. "Atlanta set all-time MLS single-game attendance record with 70,425 fans". Major League Soccer. Major League Soccer. Retrieved October 6, 2017. 
  51. ^ Rodriguez, Alicia. "Atlanta United FC set to break MLS attendance record, again". Major League Soccer. Major League Soccer. Retrieved October 6, 2017. 
  52. ^ Roberson, Doug. "Atlanta United will break 3 attendance records". Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved October 6, 2017. 
  53. ^ "Atlanta United sets MLS attendance records for single season and game". ESPN FC. October 22, 2017. Retrieved October 23, 2017. 
  54. ^ "Atlanta United sets MLS attendance records for single season and game". ESPN FC. October 22, 2017. Retrieved October 23, 2017. 
  55. ^ Longshore, Jason (July 12, 2016). "ATLUTD reveal first jersey sponsor in club history". Retrieved July 13, 2016. 
  56. ^ Usry, Rob (May 5, 2016). "SunTrust named Atlanta United Academy kit sponsor". Retrieved July 13, 2016. 

External links[edit]