Atlanta United Wins Hearts and Minds Among Warriors


Olivia Chewning

Five Stripes Fanatic: Sophomore Bennett Speir, repping his favorite team, is one of many Atlanta United fanatics found among North Atlanta students. .

Now in its second season, Major League Soccer franchise Atlanta United has taken Atlanta by storm. The team has united groups of people all over the city into one unit to cheer for the city’s newest sports franchise.

Those with long memories — basically no student at North Atlanta — might remember that the Five Stripes are actually the second top-tier soccer club in Atlanta. During the latter 1960s and 1970s, the Atlanta Chiefs of the North American Soccer League played in the old Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. That franchise fizzled out because of a lack of popularity so skeptics wondered whether a new soccer franchise could take hold in the Deep South.

Not only has Atlanta United proven to be popular, but in its first season the team shattered MLS’s attendance record. This year, the club has averaged a league-leading 50,457 people per game at it’s home Mercedes-Benz Stadium. All across the city, Atlnata United fever has been breaking out and North Atlanta students are no exception for fanaticism for the new club.

The team’s success quickly spills over the next day in the North Atlanta community to discuss how good they played or how they have developed such a good program in such a little time of being an actual franchise club. “I’ve been to a few games and they’re really electric,” said sophomore Sam Biven. “Just even walking around school here at school you see a lot of the team t-shirts and jerseys.”

The team’s surging popularity among North students reflect how different the pro soccer landscape is compared to the past. Students note the crazy atmosphere at the games and the raucous nature of the crowds who fill “The Benz” to cheer on the Five Stripes. “When you’re at the games you just feel all the hype from every fan that is there and it just makes you love to come to the games even more,” said junior Delaney Elder.

This season Atlanta United has gone 7 wins 2 losses and 1 draw, and the team is currently in the lead for the MLS’s Eastern Conference. This new soccer team of Atlanta has given the whole city a new spark for sports life, after the past few years have been dragging for the Braves and Hawks, not to mention recent anti-climatic play on the part of the Falcons. The exponential gains in popularity for Atlanta United has put to paid the notion that professional soccer can’t thrive in the Deep South. Unite the city. Conquer the opposition. So far, the league’s most popular franchise is making all the right moves.