This year, the 2018 MLS All Star Game was held right here in Atlanta, Georgia and both fans and players alike were at the Mercedes-Benz to represent Atlanta United.
Just one year after the team’s inaugural season, Atlanta finds itself as the host of the All Star Game after breaking attendance records and having a decent first season and an even better second one.
In the days prior to the MLS All Star Game, the air in Atlanta and other surrounding cities was different. Excitement filled the empty pockets of space in conversations between American soccer fans and Wednesday couldn’t come fast enough.
The Sunday before the game, the league’s best striker (as voted by the fans) Bradley Wright-Phillips and former MLS All Star Greg Garza graced fans with their presence at the Ponce City Market. And with a Falcons Open Practice earlier that morning, the swarm of people doubled around the famous Midtown market.
The party-like atmosphere and the large crowd at the Ponce City Market was, ultimately, a clear indication of just how big the turnout would be at the Mercedes-Benz stadium.
Bradley Wright-Phillips was kind enough to talk briefly about the emotions behind achieving an unexpected accomplishment: Notching 100 goals in the MLS.
— Southern Soccer Spot (@SSSATLUTD) July 29, 2018
In conjunction with Coca-Cola, Bradley-Wright Phillips and Greg Garza were taking pictures with fans in the Hotlanta sun and spectators were definitely appreciative.
Fast forward to Wednesday and over 72,000 fans made their way to the stadium in Downtown Atlanta to watch the best of the MLS face off against Italian side and Serie A team, Juventus. Although the newly acquired Cristiano Ronaldo would not be making an appearance, that did not deter fans from being loud and showing the rest of the world what the ideal American soccer atmosphere is like.
Atlanta was begging for a great game and the All Stars as well as Juventus provided just that. Both sides were ready to go from the sound of the whistle and attacking plays rolled out from both teams. However, it was Juventus’ Favilli to draw first blood in the 21st minute.
The All Stars were able to stay in the game thanks to a goal from the Man of the Match, Josef Martinez. In Martinez like fashion, Josef notched the only goal the MLS side would get in the 26th minute of the match after a couple of failed attempts from Carlos Vela and Ignacio Piatti gave off a lucky rebound.
After a few close opportunities fizzled out, the tied score remained until the 90th minute and the players then squared off in a very entertaining penalty shootout.
By the end of it, Juventus was able to walk away with the win with a 5-3 score.
Even though the MLS All Stars could not capitalize on their grand efforts in the end, the match was just what the doctor ordered for ailing MLS fans around the world who longed for a beautiful game and environment. Moreover, Atlanta and its’ fans were able to showcase the passion the city has for soccer and it’s safe to say that now that we have soccer in Atlanta, it’s here to stay.
Arturo Principe | @ArturoPrincipe1
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