Atlanta United looking forward to rivalry with Charlotte

Soccer fans celebrate the announcement of a Major League Soccer team, owned by David Tepper, that will begin play Charlotte in 2021 at an event Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019, in Charlotte, N.C.

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Soccer fans celebrate the announcement of a Major League Soccer team, owned by David Tepper, that will begin play Charlotte in 2021 at an event Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019, in Charlotte, N.C.

Atlanta United President Darren Eales on Wednesday said he’s been racking his brain on what to call the matches between the club and expansion-side Charlotte.

Some nicknames floated on social media include “I-85 Derby” and “Cola Wars” because of Atlanta is the home of Coca-Cola and Charlotte is the home of Pepsi.

Eales threw out “Royal Rumble” because Charlotte calls itself the “Queen City” and Atlanta United has dubbed itself as the “Kings of the South.”

“We’re going to enjoy having that rivalry with Charlotte, and I think it’s good for the league that we’ve got clubs coming into that pushing the envelope, and I think it just sort of speaks to the excitement that there is for MLS and soccer in North America,” he said.

Atlanta United will host Charlotte on March 13 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and will play at Bank of America Stadium on April 9.

Eales, as he sometimes does, took a good-natured swipe at the new club’s lack of Designated Player signings with the season starting in five weeks.

“Setting the bar finishing top four in the conference makes me a bit nervous about who they’re going to be signing in the coming weeks, but it’s good because that raises the bar for everyone,” he said. “So you know, we’re excited about that.”

Charlotte already has tried to stoke the embers with jabs at Atlanta United, much in the same way Eales did with the billboard in Orlando before those teams met for the first time in 2017.

Charlotte owner David Tepper reportedly shouted an expletive toward Atlanta and Atlanta United in 2020, after his expansion bid was approved and announced by MLS.

Others:

“For us to be targeting them, they’ve been a great organization,” Charlotte President Tom Glick said in 2020. “We’re going to have to knock them off of their perch. We’ll be aiming to do that.”

Charlotte already was circling its first home game against Atlanta United two years ago.

“I think one of the great sporting events of 2022 will be the first time Atlanta United comes into Bank of America Stadium and we lock horns with a sellout crowd,” Glick said. “That’ll be a special night, the first of many.”

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 vs. Sporting KC, 3 p.m., FS1

March 5 at Colorado, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

March 13 vs. Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., FS1

March 19 vs. Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 2 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 9 at Charlotte, 3 p.m., ESPN

April 16 vs. Cincinnati, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 24 at Miami, 1 p.m., ESPN

April 30 at Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 7 vs. Chicago, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 15 vs. New England, 2 p.m., ESPN

May 21 at Nashville, 7:30 p.m. FOX

May 28 vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 19 vs Miami, 4 p.m., ESPN2

June 25 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC

July 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1

July 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

August 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC

August 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

August 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

August 21 at Columbus, 6 p.m., FS1

August 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

August 31 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX

Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 1 at New England, 1 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 9 vs. NYCFC, TBD, BSSO/BSSE