A capacity crowd at a downtown venue for what was essentially a fashion show made quite the impression on Atlanta United players and fans.
Chris McCann was making his first public appearance in Atlanta as an Atlanta United player. When asked to compare last night’s event to other kit presentations he has taken part in, he said:
“It was crazy. I’ve never experienced nothing like that in my life before. That for me was an experience I won’t forget. It was amazing. Just to see the fans come out and the expectation and the excitement.”
Hector Villalba received a taste of the city when he was here for his introduction a few months ago. Last night was a very different scene than his introductory press conference. Through a translator, he said:
“There’s no point in comparison. It seems that everybody was crazy and happy.”
The level of excitement did not just magically appear overnight. With the team’s official launch back in April 2014, there has been a great deal of work by many to get to this point. Atlanta United’s owner Arthur Blank said:
“Tonight was incredible, but it’s a reflection of Atlanta, it’s a reflection of the support and enthusiasm for soccer since we made the announcement several years ago now. It’s been unbelievable.”
The level of support Atlanta United is receiving is still a surprise to the Major League Soccer office. Blank said:
“Every time I speak to the (MLS) Commissioner, sometimes he’ll call me back and say, ‘Are those the real numbers by the way?’ I say, ‘Yeah Don, those are the real numbers.’”
Club president Darren Eales often speaks of being told that Atlanta would not be a successful market. He seemed blown away by the response last night:
“Atlanta is certainly, clearly, and categorically a soccer city and I’m excited to see where we can take the bar.”
Alan Sarvas is a season ticket holder and was excited ahead of the unveiling. When asked what he was expecting for the night, he said:
“Excitement from all of the fans. Coming together to support another Atlanta team, one that we hope will be more successful than all of the other teams we have here. There’s seems to be a lot of excitement, more than any other team.
After the kits were unveiled, season ticket holder Kenny Haulk said:
“The black and red invokes a passion. The railroad thing fits in too with the side-by-side stripes. I really like it.”
It has been said that Atlanta United knows how to throw a party. Last night definitely fit the bill and thousands of excited supporters have a great memory to take with them.