ATLANTA, GA — Atlanta United broke the Major League Soccer record for attendance Sunday at their 2018 home opener at Mercedes Benz Stadium. The 72,035 tickets sold and distributed for the match was the fourth-highest turnout for a soccer game in the world last week and marks the third time the massively popular club has set a league record.
The Five Stripes won the game, a matchup with rival Washington United, 3-1.
Starting just its second season in the league, Atlanta United now claims the three most well-attended matches in Major League Soccer history. All three were among the just nine games that have been played at Mercedes Benz Stadium.
The club had been expected to only open certain sections of the massive new stadium, built to handle events like the Southeastern Conference Championship football game and the Super Bowl, for most of its games. But after Sunday’s match, Atlanta United announced that it will once again "go big" — meaning open up all of the stadium’s seats — for its Oct. 21 matchup against Chicago.
"I just want to say thank you to everybody for coming today and for the support. That is important for us," United forward Josef Martinez said after the match. ""Next game we hope to see 73,000. We thank them because the support is always important, but we don’t want to stick with 72,000. We want 73,000."
The packed stadium made a difference for the players, said goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
"It’s the stadium in general — the atmosphere that our supporters create … ," Guzan said. "I don’t think we really have a casual fan here. I think that everyone kind of joins in the atmosphere in the singing and the chanting and that’s what makes it fun."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that last week, only three profession soccer matches in the world outsold Atlanta. Manchester United sold 74,855 tickets for a matchup with Liverpool at Old Trafford, Bayern Munich had a crowd of 75,000 for its match against Hamburger and, in Germany, Borussia Dortmund played Eintracht Frankfurt in front of 81,360.
In its inaugural season last year, Atlanta United averaged 48,200 people per game — the most ever for an MLS team. And that was with several games played at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Georgia Tech while Mercedes Benz Stadium was being completed.
The Five Stripes’ first match at MBS drew 70,425 fans, a league record that they would top again in a match versus Toronto. The club’s play on the pitch didn’t hurt, either, they became the first expansion team in MLS history to make the playoffs, compiling a 15-9-10 record that included an 11-3-3 mark at home.
Atlanta United’s next home match is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against the Vancouver White Caps.
Surprise, Atlanta! Due to overwhelming demand we’re going BIG against Chicago Get our 4-Game Pack and be there for it: https://t.co/29TgVFO7fE pic.twitter.com/8dUKmXQJdC— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) March 12, 2018
Photo courtesy Atlanta United FC