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 Bobby Dodd Stadium
Ground Capacity 55,000
Owner Arthur Blank
President Darren Eales
Head coach Gerardo Martino
League Major League Soccer
Website Club home page
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.[1] 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 currently plays at Bobby Dodd Stadium, and is scheduled to move to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in September.

History[edit]

As the largest metropolitan area without an MLS franchise,[2] Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank's AMB Group submitted a bid in 2008 for an expansion franchise,[3] but withdrew the bid in early 2009 due to its inability to get a stadium built.[4] 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.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7] 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."[8]

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".[9] 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.[9] Then, in March 2013, the city and the Falcons agreed to financing terms,[10] 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.[11] The stadium was set to open in 2017 and could be configured for professional soccer.[9] 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."[12][13] In December 2013, Garber said the league was making progress in discussions with the Falcons and that the stadium situation was finalized.[14] Negotiations continued with Courtemanche saying in January 2014 that Atlanta "remains a great prospect for MLS expansion,"[15] and in February 2014, Rich McKay confirming the parties were "far along in negotiations."[16]

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.[17]

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 goal, becoming the first goalscorer in club history.[18] A week later, they registered their first MLS win on the road with a 6–1 away defeat of fellow expansion team Minnesota United FC.[19] Atlanta United registered their first MLS home win on March 18, 2017 against Chicago Fire who were down to ten men in the eleventh minute, with a 4–0 final score front of a sold-out Bobby Dodd Stadium.[20]

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"[21] (the colors used by the Falcons when they launched in 1966).[22]

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.[23] 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.[24][25] 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.[24]

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.[26] 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).[27] The team has become unofficially known as "The Five Stripes" based on the five pillars of the club. [28]

Stadium[edit]

Main article: Mercedes-Benz Stadium
A view of Bobby Dodd Stadium during a football game

On October 5, 2016, the club announced that it would play its home matches in the first half of the 2017 MLS season at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium until Mercedes-Benz Stadium is ready.[29][30] While 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.[31] 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.[32]

Atlanta will begin play in 2017 in the retractable-roof stadium being built for the Falcons and United in downtown Atlanta. While the stadium has a capacity of up to 83,000, it can be reduced to 40,000 for the MLS team.[17] Stands will be retractable to accommodate a larger field and allow better sight lines, while curtains would be 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."[2] In January 2016 it was announced the opening of the stadium was pushed back three months to June 2017.[33] Atlanta United was originally scheduled to move into Mercedes-Benz Stadium on July 30, 2017; however, the complexity of the eight-panel retractable roof has caused another delay in the stadium's opening, and the club's first match in the new stadium is scheduled for September 9, 2017 against FC Dallas. The match against Orlando City SC was moved to Bobby Dodd Stadium for July 29, 2017 while two home fixtures scheduled in August would be moved to later dates.[34]

In August 2015, Atlanta United FC announced plans for training facilities and team headquarters.[35]

Ownership[edit]

See also: Arthur Blank
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.[36] He is also known for his philanthropy and his ownership of the Atlanta Falcons in the National Football League.[37]

Players[edit]

Current roster[edit]

As of February 17, 2017 [38][39]
No. Position Player Nation
1 Goalkeeper Guzan, BradBrad Guzan  United Statesa
2 Defender Mears, TyroneTyrone Mears  England
3 Defender Parkhurst, MichaelMichael Parkhurst  United States
4 Defender Garza, GregGreg Garza (on loan from Tijuana)  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
9 Forward Jones, KenwyneKenwyne Jones  Trinidad and Tobago
10 Midfielder Almirón, MiguelMiguel Almirón (DP)  Paraguay
11 Forward Asad, YamilYamil Asad (on loan from Vélez Sarsfield)  Argentina
13 Midfielder Heath, HarrisonHarrison Heath  England
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
21 Defender Bloom, MarkMark Bloom  United States
24 Midfielder Gressel, JulianJulian Gressel  Germany
25 Goalkeeper Kann, AlecAlec Kann  United States
26 Defender Walkes, AntonAnton Walkes (on loan from Tottenham Hotspur)  England
27 Defender Loyd, ZachZach Loyd  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
32 Goalkeeper Reynish, KyleKyle Reynish  United States
35 Forward Róchez, BryanBryan Róchez  Honduras

^a Brad Guzan will join the team after the end of the EPL season.[40]

Out on loan[edit]

No. Position Player Nation
22 Defender Ambrose, MikeyMikey Ambrose (on loan to Charleston Battery)  United States
23 Goalkeeper Tabakis, AlexandrosAlexandros Tabakis (on loan to Charleston Battery)  Greece
31 Forward Otoo, JeffreyJeffrey Otoo (on loan to Charleston Battery)  Ghana
33 Forward Williams, RomarioRomario Williams (on loan to Charleston Battery)  Jamaica

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 teams 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.[41]

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.[42][43]

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

Team records[edit]

Season P W L D GS GA Position Open Cup Playoffs CCL
2017 6 2 2 2 14 7 6 TBD TBD DNQ

Supporter groups[edit]

Atlanta United currently has four Supporter Groups identified on their homepage: Terminus Legion, Resurgence, Footie Mob, and the Faction.[44]

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.[45]

By December 2015, the supporters of the new MLS team had already pledged to purchase more than 29,000 season tickets.[46]

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.[47] SunTrust Bank, a local Atlanta company, is the official kit sponsor at the academy level.[48]

References[edit]

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

External links[edit]