For the first time in a long time, I made the drive to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It was a weird feeling. When I got close enough to see the stadium’s enormous facades for the first time in who knows how long, a wave of nostalgia hit me in the face. The Before Times rushed back to me.
But this trip to the MBS was different than any other trip I made to Atlanta United’s stomping grounds. For the first time, I went not as a fan, but as media representing Dirty South Soccer, and this time, not for a game, but for the eagerly anticipated reveal of the 2021 home kit.
(As an aside: I felt nervous as heck tweeting from the account. I typed, deleted, and retyped my first DSS tweet at least 20 times. This is the masterpiece that resulted:)
Hey y’all, @kyledsoto here and I’m at the Atlanta United kit launch for DSS— Dirty South Soccer (@DirtySouthSoc) February 27, 2021
The event itself was fun enough. Mostly, I had a lot of fun just being among fans and in the environment, something I’ve been longing for. I was located a little too far away to fully absorb everything happening on the stage, but fortunately I was able to catch everything I missed on the YouTube stream.
I saw Kevin Egan walking before he took the stage as the event host, but I wasn't able to walk over, shake his hand, and talk about that time I megged him. Instead, I looked on knowing he wouldn't recognize me in a mask after all that time. It was a cruel reminder of the world we live in now.
But then I looked to my left and saw the countless cars filled with Atlanta United fans who were came out to see the official new home kit for the 2021 season. Even though the fans who came to the event were sectioned off into their individual parking spots, we were all there together to experience something. Together.
One strange aspect of this experience for me was remembering Atlanta United is a real club, with a real, physical stadium that exists in our dimension. I didn’t actually forget all this, but the pandemic makes you “forget” these things after not physically being in the environment for over a year. You start to believe the entire world exists on the other side of a screen.
In the end, it was a fun experience and one I did not take lightly or for granted. I know I was lucky to even be there in the first place.
Bring on the season!