Will Atlanta United miss Bobby Dodd when it leaves?

Not exactly your average Georgia Tech crowd – the Atlanta United faithful go their own kind of nuts. (Andrew Dinwiddie/SPECIAL)

At the halfway point of its inaugural season, Atlanta United FC (translation: Soccer team) got itself a meaningful victory Saturday at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium in the same manner the home team always does it here:

Relying heavily on the running game.

Beating Colorado 1-0 at its makeshift home bumped Atlanta back into the top six of the Eastern Conference, back above that red line that appears in the MLS standings to separate the playoff eligible teams from the chaff.

If just barely, an expansion team finds itself on the right side of that border. Its papers have been checked and Atlanta United has been allowed to cross over into the company of more experienced franchises. Halfway through the season – a not insignificant sampling of 17 games – it vaguely resembles a postseason contender. That’s got to be a least a Grade Two surprise.

If this first-year bunch is not careful, it is going to expect things of itself.

Said defender Michael Parkhurst after beating Colorado, “We had talked before this game that if we win we put ourselves above the red line and into a playoff spot. We know that there is a lot of season to play but we want to get into the mentality of seeing ourselves in that picture and we want it to be a week-to-week thing that we are above that red line. That everyone sees that Atlanta is in the playoff picture. We want to have that mentality throughout the rest of the season.”

This was Atlanta United’s fifth win in seven home games (it’s 2-5-3 on the road). That’s the exact home record of Tech’s football team here last season. The ground game has done pretty well here in 2016-17.

The scene for soccer has in some way eclipsed the scene for the average Tech football game. Seven Atlanta United games here, seven sellouts (with the north endzone upper deck closed off for maintenance). And half of the crowd wasn’t Clemson fans.

Saturday, it was a now typical tableau of non-stop chanting and cheering in the seats, the passion far more coordinated than it is for college football. Newcomer fans, like their team, have shown themselves to be surprisingly talented.

One thing a grumpy old observer notices is there is no need to blare music at these games like all the others. The fans supply their own melodies, far more happy and pure than anything that has assaulted the ears at Philips Arena, the doomed Georgia Dome and even SunTrust Park.

There are four more soccer games scheduled at Tech before Atlanta United is scheduled to move into Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Only hope that opulent setting doesn’t rob Atlanta United of the quaint charms that have visited this new team at this old football stadium.

“It’s going to be tough to leave to be honest,” midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said.

Arthur Blank probably will insist upon relocating, however.

Reader Comments 0

17 comments
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agentoranj90
agentoranj90

I have been to 4 of the home games.  It's been a great experience.  It's really unique and different from other sporting events.  The first game at Tech and I was complaining about the bleachers but then I started to realize the campus, Midtown, and atmosphere of the stadium is great.  Hopefully the energy level doesn't drop when the move to the new stadium.  I did see a Mexico/Paraguay game at the Dome and I can say the atmosphere was still good.

SvenOttke
SvenOttke

Love the subtle digs from the 'necks re:  Bobby Dodd.  So typical. And yes, the obligatory jab from an AJC writer re:  Tech football.  To be expected, unfortunately.  That place is a treasure that is under-appreciated by the masses but appreciated by those that count, especially the ESPN crew.

jezel-dog / Coach - me
jezel-dog / Coach - me

Live in midtown...not a soccer fan....but enjoy the energy in the neighborhood  when Atlanta United plays.


And best of luck for the rest of the season. Many are proud you guys are in town.

Speech99
Speech99

The experience of being in Midtown is pretty great, even though I am looking forward to the new stadium.  There are more restaurants to gather at in Midtown than near the new stadium.  So far, as much as it pains me to say, it's been a fun ride at Bobby Dodd.

agentoranj90
agentoranj90

@Speech99 They are adding some restaurants and bars around Mercedes stadium.  I know they are adding an Antico pizza.  Still Midtown is really hopping during games. 

TOJacket
TOJacket

Anyone who attends an event at BDS will always miss it when it's over!....great Historic venue!!

birdrow
birdrow

@TOJacket If by "miss it", you mean the game because you were standing in line for 30 minutes every time you want to visit the concession area regardless of what time of the game it is, and by "Historic Venue" you mean small and crappy old stadium with zero curb appeal, you would be dead on. 

thewalkingdude
thewalkingdude

The atmosphere will be hard to match, I will miss that walk from the 10th Street MARTA station to the stadium - it's a hoot! 

Thrash
Thrash

Here's an idea.  Rip the roof off the GA Dome.  Configure and re-size the seating for about 45-50K.  Let ATL U play in that.

Viper7
Viper7

I have no worries whatsoever about the move! I think it is exciting and gives more fans a chance to come be part of this awesomeness. The new stadium will be well deserved if Atlanta keeps playing the way they are playing. Don't underestimate the wonderful sounds a 40-50 thousand crowd of soccer fans can make in a big stadium that other sports fans just can't match. Think positive fans, the players do!!!!

Contrario
Contrario

I very much worry about the move. The atmosphere at Bobby Dodd is fantastic. No way to replicate that with 40,000 in an 80,000 seat arena, I don't care what draping you use for empty seats. The fans and their energy will be taken out of the game.

I fear that once this honeymoon is over, the United reverts to their intended purpose as a tenant to a corporation focused on other things. You know, like the Thrashers were to Atlanta Spirit.

I hope I'm wrong! I will say I never dreamed they'd be as popular as they are so far.

1peatfor7
1peatfor7

@Contrario Except for the fact that it holds 71K for Falcons games, 75K for the Superbowl or World Cup, and 83K for basketball with floor seating.


Bobby Dodd is a dump of a stadium. No one likes waiting 20-30 minutes for a water or beer. Very small concourses so you have to squeeze through people, terrible bathrooms.


More people will go to the MBS simply that it's a new stadium and they want to check it out.  Much like Sun Trust Park.  AU is having to cap ticket sales due to the construction at BD.  It will be plenty loud in there, remember it's going to be closed for most games (any time the temp is above 85).

Wrecker
Wrecker

They would be stupid to leave BDS.  The atmosphere is amazing.  I understand that the amenities and profit would be greater at MBS, but the charm and the draw would be gone in that sterile environment.


In keeping with the credo of the bastion of U[sic}Ga sports, the AJC, Hummer inserted the obligatory jab at Tech football as well.  Two wins in the last three games has created much butthurt.

Iceman87GT
Iceman87GT

The East stands are going to get way too hot for BDS@HGF to be viable, plus the East stands atriums don't have enough space for concession lines to function properly (they're already a nightmare during Tech games when beer isn't being sold).

I would love for BDS to be our home but there are some deterrents that are hard to overlook. Hopefully MBS can have a similarly electric feel as Bobby Dodd though there's zero chance it will feel as intimate (it's gonna suck moving from the GA section right on the field to the same seats but 100+ feet away from the action (that kind of cascading is fine for football but not as conducive to soccer viewing).