As a fan of the Philadelphia Union, it’s a given that I don’t care for the New York Red Bulls, New York City FC or really any other team above the blue and gold in the standings. Build a bonfire with D.C. United on top, Red Bulls in the middle and what not.
But ever since the announcement of Atlanta United, my angst as a fan has mostly been directed to the south.
Here are 10 reasons why I really hate Atlanta United (but have nothing but love for their fans or their wonderful SB Nation blog Dirty South Soccer).
1. They are the know-it-all new guy
They are the know-it-all new guy acting like they can own the league from day one. Like the kid fresh out of college who thinks he can do your job better even though he doesn’t know the half of what you actually do, Atlanta United have come in with a bold approach and attitude that would have been really fun to watch backfire. That they haven’t paid their dues of being a sad expansion team in year one is really annoying, considering what we have endured - a growing collection of sad expansion team-type years in Chester.
2. They are hard to miss in Atlanta
They seem to have many of the things we have wanted in Philadelphia but have never had - an actual presence in the community and local media, a ton of fans, an owner with deep pockets, and an arrogance that we only have when we win, which isn't very often. I was in Atlanta last fall and one of the first things I saw was a huge billboard with the Atlanta United logo. I also saw more Atlanta United gear on people in my short stay there than I do over the course of a couple months here.
3. They are SEC-proof?
We have the juggernaut that is the Eagles to compete with (I can’t even go to church on a Sunday morning without being bombarded with grown men wearing Eagles jerseys). SEC football there is a religion that far bigger and deeper rooted than any NFL team, yet they drew 70,000 fans to a game on a college football Saturday in September.
4. The Hype
The hype has been unbearable. Even before they played a single game, the "Atlanta United is a huge success" story line was everywhere. It hasn't relented since the first game of the season even during a span of not so great returns that preceded the recent seven-goal demolition of New England Revolution. Maybe winning the off-season has its benefits after all, something I doubt we'll ever say about the Union.
5. Their stadium
They play in a football stadium (excuse me, multi-sport stadium) on a plastic pitch, but who cares when they have 40K+ showing up to games? The Union struggles to fill an 18K stadium, even (twice) when a trip to the Champions League was on the line. Side note: What’s up with Atlanta replacing two stadiums (Georgia Dome and Turner Field) that were both built in the ‘90s?
6. Their Academy
The Union have been building an academy for the last four years and it’s finally starting to show progress. Atlanta United's U17 team bursts on the scene, destroys the Union in their first GA Cup game and then goes on to win the U17 title. While we're constantly reminded that results at the youth level don't matter, Atlanta United says "eff that" and wins the league because they can. Then they end up the beneficiary of two high-profile departures from the Union’s youth system, with Chad Letts and Rayshaun McGann joining their U19 team for this season.
7. The name
Oh that name. From the generic United to the FC, do Atlanta fans even like their name?
8. What could have been
What if the league had waited to put a team in Philadelphia when the right ownership group had come forward instead of focusing so much energy tying expansion to a stadium deal? That Atlanta got the benefit of coming in when they did and the backing of an owner that wants to spend actual money just makes me hate them all the more.
9. Seattle 2.0
Seattle have been the darlings of the league from their early days in part because of their big crowds and fan support (their celebrity co-owner hasn’t hurt either). But hating them is hard work when they are so far away and only play the Union once a season. Atlanta United as the Seattle of the east is a much easier target for my disdain.
10. It’s Atlanta
The only positive image of Atlanta sports I can conjure up is playing as Dominique Wilkins in video game basketball when I was a kid. The rest is all just memories of Cubs hitters (I’m a 1-for-5 Philadelphia sports fan) getting mowed down by that ridiculous starting rotation the Braves had and that horrible chant I understand fans still do there. When an MLS franchise was first awarded to Atlanta a lot of the chatter was about how it’s not a great sports town but maybe it’s just not a great town for other sports that aren’t soccer? I wish Philadelphia had that problem.