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What if Atlanta United hadn’t started in Bobby Dodd Stadium?

Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive

MLS: Orlando City SC at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes the universe allows bloggers to go on dates. You can worry about how low a person’s standards would have to be to go on such a date but can we at least agree that it might be possible and that the next few sentences might come from a place of at least some experience and may have some credibility.

There’s a reason a lot of first dates happen at coffee shops. You have to sit close. You have to speak at a below average level unless you want the person pretending to read The Stand at the next table to pretend to read The Stand while listening intently to you try to impress someone while simultaneously not trying too hard. That means you have to listen a little closer. There aren’t many distractions. If you’re actually trying to get to know someone, it forces you to unless you want to sit in awkward silence until the person reading The Stand taps you on the shoulder to let you know that they’re reading The Stand.

To capitalize on a heavy handed metaphor while also lampshading it: Bobby Dodd was our coffee shop. The issues with Mercedez-Benz Stadium were a blessing. Plenty of people would have crowded in for that first game. The culture existed and it was real. But would it have cemented it the way that first match did? I’m not sure. But I don’t think so.

There was no halo board, no world-class suites, no Buckhead level where people stand at field level away from their seats. Everyone just packed into a hundred-year-old stadium and held on for dear life while we tried to bludgeon a new soccer culture into the proper shape. For that to work, it needed a level of intimacy and the stadium provided it.

Look at the picture attached to the article. That’s right after Tito scored the last goal in Bobby Dodd history. An equalizer against Orlando at the final possible moment. He jumped over an ad board and became enveloped by the fans in the Supporters’ Section. It doesn’t work that way at MBS. And that made it special.

Special enough so that when the transition to MBS happened, enough carried over to make the atmosphere at the massive stadium work. We’ll never know for sure, but my gut says things might have felt soulless if MBS had finished on time. We got close enough on the first few dates to go on to bigger things. If Bobby Dodd was a coffee shop, MBS was a relationship affirming trip abroad. Or something. Look the metaphor kind of falls apart after that but that shouldn’t diminish this.

I don’t want to go back, but we needed the coffee shop to make the next steps work. And I think we can all agree that me messing up the first tifo was a part of that experience and I should be forgiven for it. Because that’s what this article has been about. Forgiveness. And coffee. But mostly forgiveness.