Help with home decoration.
A city proclamation.
Traffic signs with message of encouragement.
Being recognized grocery stories.
Supporters of Atlanta United in Atlanta are showing their support for their team in a variety of ways ahead of Saturday’s MLS Cup against Portland at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“We want to repay the fans by giving them something to celebrate and repay them for their amazing support,” Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez said on Tuesday. “The fans and city deserve a trophy.”
The support for the team has been there all season with a league record for average attendance, as well as league attendance records for a single game, a U.S. Open Cup game, the All-Star Game and a playoff game.
It has been shown with the amazing tifos designed and constructed by the supporters groups.
But the enthusiasm is being shown in different ways this week with a championship on the line.
The Atlanta City Council on Monday proclaimed it as Atlanta United Day and encouraged its employees to wear their team gear throughout the week. Players Mickey Ambrose and Romario Williams attended the event at City Hall.
On Tuesday, Marietta put messages on electronic traffic signs near the team’s training facility in Marietta. One message said: Marietta wishes ATLUTD good luck.
Midfielder Kevin Kratz said he saw the sign as he drove down Franklin Gateway to work on Tuesday.
“You can see that the city is hyped and ready for the game,” he said.
Kratz, who grew up in Germany and his played in its top division, said his neighbors offered to put up Christmas lights on his house so that he wouldn’t risk injury ahead of the game. He declined the offer but appreciated the sentiment.
He said the attendance records and tifos are things that he said aren’t seen very often and raising the bar for the sport and other clubs in MLS.
“When you look at Atlanta, when you look at LAFC with their new stadium, other teams have to step up,” he said. “This is good for soccer in the U.S. and good for soccer overall that you see teams like Atlanta come on and provide such a facility, such a stadium, such a crowd.”
Fullback Greg Garza’s neighbors are as enthusiastic as Kratz’s. He said children will come knock on the door hoping to meet him. He is being recognized in grocery stores, something he said he thought would never happen when he made the move from Mexico.
“I would never imagine that Atlanta would be a city that would make soccer this big,” he said. “To be a part of that and to be part of a team that making history is a great feeling. We should all be very proud of that. But our job still isn’t finished. We have one more thing to do and that’s lift that trophy on Saturday.”