-Ed. Note: This is a guest post submitted by FOX Sports South play-by-play man Kevin Egan. DSS reached out to Kevin ahead of his final match before Alan Green assumes the role to see if he’d be interested in sharing his experience with the club and he graciously accepted. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kev_egan.
Living the dream. As I write this, I'm on board an Atlanta United charter flight to Vancouver. Yes, in case you're wondering, Miguel Almiron is smiling.
My 5-game stint with Atlanta United has entered the home straight. Four games have passed, with our FOX Sports South team on a 2-1-1 record (playoff worthy!), and I hope when we're en route back from British Columbia, Atlanta United will be on a 3-match winning run and sitting comfortably in a playoff position.
For me, this has been one of those unexpected gifts in life. Darren Eales and Carlos Bocanegra visited our beIN Sports studios in Miami last September, and when I interviewed them on my show, The XTRA, I was blown away by their infectious enthusiasm. Darren was giddy at the thought of a new fan base, sold out season tickets and a brewing culture; while I could tell Carlos was absolutely loving his role of working with Tata Martino and assembling a winning roster, as well as planning for the future through the youth academy. When they left, I remember thinking Atlanta United was set to do something special and anyone part of this club was in for a fun time. So when my phone rang a few months later and I was asked if I was interested in calling five games, needless to say I was beaming.
The next stage was fun: team building! Just like Atlanta United, our TV team had to be pieced together, and I really think Atlanta United's Director of Digital and Social Media Matt Moore along with FOX Sports South did an outstanding job. I knew Brittany Arnold was in, and I couldn't wait to chat with her, as we were friends from our time at beIN Sports together. But who'd be the color analyst? I couldn't wait to find out, because the relationship between PxP and color is so incredibly important. From the hotel, to the taxi, to the booth, you're in each other's pocket, and if it works, that chemistry comes through in the broadcast. So naturally I was devastated when I found out it was Dan Gargan. Kidding, of course! Dan was an incredible choice, and someone I've learned a lot from, and loved working with. So with Brittany, Dan et moi on board, FOX Sports South added our producer Casey and Director Tom! Boom. Lovely group. Ready to rock and or roll!
From that moment on, I was elated to be back in MLS again, and collaborating with wonderful people to produce Atlanta United's first EVER local broadcast. What an honor! First stop was the home of the 2016 MLS Cup Final, BMO Field and Toronto FC. I'm not sure if you heard this, but Brittany was cold! In fairness, it was a bitterly cold day, but Dan received a warm welcome from some old friends from his time playing in Toronto. Our first show had some hiccups, but thankfully we got through it with a smile, and Tito grabbed the headlines with a blistering brace.
Trips to Montreal and Salt Lake City followed, and they reminded me what a wonderful community there is within MLS. Some broadcasters would make you believe you're in the 'Anchorman' scene where Will Ferrell's team meets Ben Stiller's, but for the most part, you develop friendships and a bond. I consider guys like Olivier Brett in Montreal and Brian Dunseth in Utah friends, and it was great seeing them.
Late heartbreak in Montreal was tough to take, but then we were treated to The Late Late Show, hosted by Brandon Vazquez in Utah, so that made up for it. Five points from a tough four-game road stretch was a huge success. That RSL trip was a short one for me, as I then had an overnight flight back to Miami and straight to studio to host our 'El Clasico' coverage. A few days I would've dreamt about not long ago!
So three of the five broadcasts in the books, and next up was ATL and Bobby Dodd! Wow! Wow! Wow! Firstly my Uber driver was kind enough to take me for a spin to see Mercedes-Benz Stadium. There are no words! And when Dan and I hit Bobby Dodd we were greeted with good old friendly Georgia hospitality. Any broadcast I had seen from Bobby Dodd hadn't fully captured the atmosphere.... maybe that's because my couch at home wasn't shaking like the commentary booth! We were blown away, especially when the national anthem had some technical difficulties, and then the entire crowd saved the day! Dan Gargan told me he had chills after that, and a moment like that made him realize how much he misses being on the field.
That was a truly special day. From the weather delay, to every fan sticking around, to the Miggy Almiron hat trick, and then the introduction of Andrew Carleton! Magical. A night to savor. Just as I thought the day couldn't get any better, my brother and girlfriend flew in to surprise me for my birthday! What followed after included a 3 a.m. bar with incredible live music, topped off with some fried chicken, but I'll save the details on that one!
It's been a beautiful and unforgettable little journey, and I can't thank everyone enough for getting behind our little broadcast team. I'll pass the baton on to Alan Green after this game, and I know he'll be wonderful. I can't wait to return to Atlanta this season as a fan, because this is one amazing city, with a soccer club and fan base everyone should be so proud of.