Mrs Duke and I made the trek down to Mercedes Benz from the burbs last night and boy was it fun. The loss sucked. And yes, Tata probably should have left Josef on the field and had Almiron take the first PK but let’s not get down in the dumps. What an atmosphere.
70k packed the Benz last night and as United ventured into penalty kicks I took a moment to look around. 70k remained. On a Thursday. In downtown Atlanta knowing full well they weren’t getting home until after 12 and the beer sales had stopped 45 minutes ago. That says something, and I hope it continues next year. The big question is, why? Why is the support so feverish? Why are 70k lining the stands at 10:30pm on a week night? To me, it’s simple. Vision.
This team has been in the works for the better part of 10 years. Arthur Blank is the best owner in sports. He cares deeply about his business, his players, his staff and his fans. Everything is first class. From bringing in Darren Eales a year early to locking up Bocanegra and McDonough to 4 year extensions, Blank has given this franchise every opportunity to grow.
The first year success was unprecedented in almost every way. Product on the field? Made the playoffs with a home playoff game. Young super stars impacting not only our team but they way every other team is going to build in the future.
Off the field? Highest ever average attendance. We set multiple records for single game attendance. Highest ever playoff attendance. Arthur flipped the Darren Rovell’s of the world on their heads with the concessions prices. Even Bobby Dodd, which I vehemently opposed at first, turned out to be a great spot to get the season started.
I woke up this morning disappointed that it’s over but so thankful that we had the chance in the first place. There are cities all over the US praying for an MLS team. Hell, there are cities in the MLS that wish they had what we had. (Note – 6k fans at the HOME PLAYOFF GAME IN CHICAGO) Let’s not take it for granted and come back better than ever next year.
I’ll leave you with this: the names on the back of the jersey are going to change. That is the nature of the MLS and for better or worse, we have some dynamite players that will be hot properties on the transfer market. Support the team on the front of the shirt as much as the name on the back because this group of executives have earned our trust. As a founding member, we’ve renewed our tickets for next year. Even if Almiron, Martinez, Garza and Asad aren’t back I certainly will be.
Thank you Atlanta United. See you next year!
Oh PS: the future is bright