Oleeee, ole, ole, olee…..Atlantaaa, Atlantaaaa! That is what 55,297 fans sang in unison. Well maybe 55, 197. You would be hard pressed to find more than 100 New York Red Bull fans in attendance of the inaugural Major League Soccer (MLS) game for the Atlanta United Football Club. Atlanta United played the game Sunday, March 5th at Bobby Dodd Stadium on the Georgia Tech campus. There were more people at the stadium than the “Clean, Ole-Fashioned Hate” football game between Georgia Tech and Georgia game. According to socceramerica.com, Atlanta United had the fourth-largest attendance of any soccer game around the WORLD.

1. 79,100 Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayer Leverkusen (Germany)

2. 77,117 Barcelona vs. Celta Vigo (Spain)

3. 75,245 Manchester United vs. Bournemouth (England)

4. 55,297 Atlanta United vs. New York Red Bulls (U.S., MLS)

5. 54,014 Borussia Moenchengladbach vs. Schalke 04 (Germany)

This was the MLS opening week and the Atlanta United’s attendance was head and shoulders above any game played.

2. 25,527 New York City Football Club vs. Orlando

3. 23,554 Dallas vs. Los Angeles

4. 21,144 Minnesota United vs. Portland

5. 20,758 Seattle vs. Houston

First, here is a little introduction to the team. Atlanta United was put together by owner, Arthur Blank. He would hire President Darren Eales and bring in head coach Gerardo Martino, who assembled a team of young, attacking strikers. The team colors are red and black. They have already sold 30,000 season tickets for this inaugural year, more than any other MLS expansion team. Judging by other attendances for the opening week, it seems like Atlanta futbol will stand united.

Speaking of stand, that is what the entire stadium did all night. It started with Monica singing the national anthem, to the team being introduced to “Dey Know” by Shawty Lo, to Yung Joc hammering the golden spike to begin the match. Again, sitting was not an option including 25 minutes into the match when Tyrone Mears made a pass to Yamil Asad. At that point Asad made United history by scoring the first ever goal for the team. This sent the stadium into a frenzy, so much for sitting down now. Sorry Georgia Tech fans, but that type of excitement and cheering hasn’t been heard in that stadium since November 27, 1999. Everyone would continue to stand until the first half was over and the United held a 1-0 lead.

After a sitting during halftime, it was time to stand up again for the second half. The United were up 1-nil in the 67th minute of the match, when defender Leandro Gonzalez Pirez got the ball and passed to the midfielder Miguel Almiron. All Almiron had to do was pass to striker Josef Martinez and it would have been an easy goal. However, had Almiron passed to Martinez, the play would have been blown dead for offsides. There must be two defenders, one being the goalie, between an attacker and the goal when the ball is passed to him. So Almiron had to try and lob the ball over the goalie Luis Robles. Unfortunately, he missed the goal which would have basically won the match. Less than ten minutes later, New York scored its first goal by Daniel Royer. The Red Bulls added a second goal just six minutes later by Anton Walkes. With New York leading 2-1, the United kept attacking to try and tie the score. Then in the 88th minute, Atlanta midfielder Carlos Carmona was given a red card for stepping on a Red Bulls midfielder. It didn’t look like he did it intentionally. Since the United were getting several yellow card (fouls) called against them, it’s easy to see why the referees seemed biased. With two minutes left in a close game, Carmona will learn not to jeopardize himself or the team with a judgmental call. A red card results in an immediate removal from the match, a one match ban, and a fine of $250. The team is allowed to appeal within 24 hours after the match is over. Carmona will miss the next match at the Minnesota United. The Disciplinary Committee must now decide if any more punishment on top of the automatic one-match ban is warranted. If it is, then a possible three-match ban would mean losing him for Atlanta’s March 18 home game against the Chicago Fire and March 31st at defending MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders. The approximate four minutes continued until the match was over. Atlanta had fought hard but came up short 2-1. Manager Martino said, “We created chances, which is the most important, unfortunately we didn’t score, (because of) pressure, for lacking a final pass, for different reasons. What I think we must improve is controlling the game. The game today was very intense, very up-and-down.”

They were a lot of disappointed fans leaving the stadium but more of them were hopefully for this new team. The United only had about four exhibition games under their belt as opposed to playing the defending division champions. It was amazing to see several nationalities, backgrounds, and people of different ages in even one section of the stadium. The opposing manager of the Red Bulls Jesse Marsch said: “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’ll be good.” One of the chants that you will have to learn to support the team is:

Atlanta, Oh Atlanta, We are United, never divided.

Unite and Conquer for we are stronger. A-T-L-U-T-D

Atlanta, Oh Atlanta, We are United, never divided.

Unite and Conquer for we are stronger. A-T-L-U-T-D

Atlanta! United! We’re Never Divided! UNITE & CONQUER!

For WE are stronger!