Today was a moment three years in the making. Since Atlanta was awarded an MLS franchise in 2014, everyone eagerly anticipated the first ever match. Quite frankly, it did not disappoint.
The sight when entering the parking lot of Finley Stadium was quite surreal. Tailgates from supporters of both Atlanta United and Chattanooga FC surrounded the area. To kill time, fans started their own pickup soccer matches, grilled, and watched Liverpool and Tottenham square off. Everyone there found a common bond through soccer, and it was a terrific feeling.
A little over an hour before the match, Atlanta United supporters gathered in front of the stadium to witness their side emerge out of the team bus for the first time.
The first arrival. Led by Tata.#UniteAndConquer pic.twitter.com/lsQhsyTOxq— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) February 11, 2017
Chants of “A-T-L” greeted the players and coaching staff. Once the warm welcome was complete, fans flocked to the gates and watched the club warm up.
This is so surreal. #ATLUTD pic.twitter.com/SZTtAY8h9H— Haris Kruskic (@HKruskic) February 11, 2017
Then, it finally happened. Our first kickoff.
And we're off! #UniteAndConquer pic.twitter.com/Gru9QkucSw— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) February 11, 2017
A sense of anticipation lingered early on, as 12,000+ eager fans remained standing the entire first half.
Great support from both sides. #ATLUTD pic.twitter.com/julOu8WoLa— Haris Kruskic (@HKruskic) February 11, 2017
Obviously, we all know how the match went. Atlanta United’s win was just the icing on the cake of an already spectacular day. AUFC supporters came to Chattanooga in droves just to see their squad step on a pitch for the first time. That, in my opinion, was more important than anything Atlanta United could have produced on the pitch. That commitment is special, it’s remarkable, and it’s ultimately how Atlanta United becomes a staple of the city.
Job well done to the players, front office and the supporters of the greatest club in the world. Let’s carry this momentum into our inaugural season.