Updated: Apr 21
Welcome to the A.
A few things you need to know:
Call it Hotlanta, well bless your heart.
Tomato and mayo on white bread can’t be beat.
Cornbread shouldn’t be sweet.
We’re ashamed that we love Hate Chicken (sorry).
If Waffle House is closed, bad things are happening.
Sweet tea is the nectar of the gods, unless you want to bring bourbon into the equation.
Josef Martinez is king.
I’d suppose that last one is surprising unless you live here. Long derided as the worst sports city in America (links, sminks, you know Google too right?), something very special is happening here.
Just look at the numbers. Before the ‘Rona, Atlanta United regularly was up there with Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid, Liverpool, and Manchester United (and kicking Arsenal’s butt weekly). “In a crap sports town?” you ask. “Why is that?” Well, there are myriad reasons.
Sigh, cliché alert: Atlanta is the city too busy to hate. Full disclaimer: I’m a founding member of Atlanta United F.C., so yeah, I’m biased, but I’ve been to Hawks games; I’ve been to Braves games (before they abandoned Atlanta); I’ve been to Falcons games. And you know what? Going to an Atlanta United match feels much more like the city that I love over anything else.
Backing up. No one knew Josef upon his arrival. He’d had a hard time in Italy. We were way more excited about this Miggy kid. And we came out of the gates roaring. Instantly one of the best teams in the league. Who’d believe that? Well, Darren Eales (formerly a filthy Spur) and Carlos Bocanegra. They upended the MLS model. Beckham types? We’ll pass. Miguel Almiron? Oh yes. And this guy from Torino, Josef? Why not? South America baby.
And then what happened? They tore the hell out of MLS. First season: tired as hell in the playoffs because of the new stadium delays. Second season: Sorry New England. 7-0 was kind on the day. And Portland, you guys were awesome at the end. Third season? It’s football. Sometimes the better team loses. You go, Toronto. And along the way, Josef endeared himself to the community and fans. He was home.
And what does that success look like? Along with their superb, grassroots marketing efforts, in my seats in section 107 I have a Kiwi to my left, some Indian Americans to my right, fired up Latinos behind me (one who hits my bad shoulder so hard when we score that I’m wincing now). And then there is Footie Mob and Terminus Legion (the two supporters’ groups I know best). Maybe the most diverse set of fans in the world.
And poor Joe Bednick. He’s a punchline on t-shirts now. And you know who celebrated? The most diverse set of fans in this country. Disagree on that or cornbread; we’ll fight. Hail Josef.
Oh Orlando, don’t you cry for me, You actually have to win a game to have rivalry.
Josef says, “Hey Chipper, hand me the cornbread.” But the Hammer grabs it first while Tom and Greg look on. And Matt Ryan sadly looks in from the window. United didn’t fuck it up.
We are the Kings, from way down south.
And we are here; rowdy and proud.