NOTE: All quotes used in this piece were taken directly from an official quote sheet provided by Atlanta United.
Atlanta United’s dream debut in MLS didn’t end quite as expected as the New York Red Bulls played their part of spoiler to perfection. Despite the result not going Atlanta’s way, it was still a special night for the history of the sport in the city. After the match, most of the comments from players and staff from both sides centered around the atmosphere at Bobby Dodd Stadium and the 55,000+ attendance.
As you’d expect, all Atlanta United personnel were complimentary of the fantastic atmosphere, but what was rather interesting was the remarks the opposing side had for the home crowd. Three prominent Red Bulls went on record after the match, Jesse Marsch, Sacha Kljestan, and Luis Robles, all of whom had nothing but glowing words about the Atlanta fans and organization’s growth.
These guys are under no obligation to stay good things about the Atlanta fans. Heck, after a heated match that saw an incident or two of objects thrown onto the field, you’d might even hear them say something inflammatory, but they didn’t. I found that rather interesting and indicative of how much of an impact the sellout crowd had.
Marsch is known for being brutally honest with the media, especially after matches, but he had nothing but good things to say to reporters about the raucous crowd.
“Atmosphere – amazing, phenomenal, really impressive. Another jewel in the crown of MLS. Their team is good. Tata Martino is a good coach. He has a clear tactical way of doing things. They tried to exploit us on the wing a bit. They’ll be good.”
Kljestan is no strangers to speaking his mind either, but he also praised Atlanta United and the supporters.
“Awesome. Atlanta seems to be doing a lot of things right. The training facility was top-notch. The atmosphere of the stadium with the fans – amazing. Atlanta as a team I think is pretty good. I think they will do pretty well this season. They’ve got some talented players and they dare to play. It was a pretty fun game tonight.”
If not for Luis Robles’ heroics in goal, the Atlanta faithful likely would’ve been sent home happy. He was equally complimentary in his comments.
“They’re good. They are a really good team. I want to commend this entire organization for the product they are putting out on the field, but also the environment in the stadium. They’ve just joined the league but it feels like this is one of those places that you want to play at. They set up a pretty good standard here and I think everyone around the league is going to take notice of what they’re doing here.”
It’s a great sign that even the opposing team is impressed by the atmosphere at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Hopefully that soon turns into results at home as the intimidation factor kicks in. Well done, Atlanta.