FOX payed FIFA $400 million for the rights to broadcast the 2018 and 2022 World Cup. Most soccer fans say they made a bad investment as viewership is down 44% from 2014. Obviously the main reason for this huge drop in ratings is the lack of the United States National Team.
A lot of people were worried this huge blow to the US would put a major stall on the growing popularity of the sport in our country. While it certainly didn’t help there is still plenty to be excited about. One major shining hope is Atlanta United–one of the 2017 Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion teams.
Atlanta United has been the hottest franchise in the MLS for the past year and a half finishing 4th in the MLS last year and currently leading this year. While winning is important, it’s the way they’re running their club that is the most interesting.
Doing Things Differently
Traditionally MLS clubs work a lot different than popular clubs overseas. The old MLS model was for teams to get great European players who were towards the ends of their careers. They would pay them ridiculous salaries because they had name recognition. The most widely known example is David Beckham playing with the LA Galaxy. This strategy did a decent job of filling seats, but didn’t giveMLS the traction it needed.
Atlanta United came with a different strategy. They were one of the first MLS teams who chose to develop young talent rather than taking older European players. It’s safe to say this worked very well. They’re also bringing in world class talent.
They broke the MLS record for the highest transfer fee to get Ezequiel Barco. They still need other MLS teams to be on board with their strategies to make the league better. If they continue winning I don’t think that will be an issue. Atlanta United also has another major competitive advantage – their fans.
The Biggest Soccer Fan Base and Growing
In its first year Atlanta United broke the attendance record of the highest attended MLS game in history. Then they broke it again a few weeks later. Everyone has taken notice of these fans which is why it was awarded to be a World Cup site in 2026.
Part of this record is possible due to the fact that they’re playing in one of the newest stadiums in the world. Mercedes Benz Stadium, home to Atlanta United and the Atlanta Falcons, is an engineering marvel. The stadium is also famously known for its incredibly low food prices, something that isn’t happening anywhere else in professional sports.
This club also won the title of most twitter followers after 1 match. It was also the first MLS team to surpass 400k followers which proves the backing this club has been strong even before the start.
Atlanta United frequently sells out games, has a great team and amazing fans. If MLS is headed anywhere remotely close to what Atlanta United is doing then United States soccer will be in a great place.
Atlanta United is one of the teams participating in the first ever Man of the Match Design Challenge. Creative Allies has partnered with Heineken, Atlanta United and D.C. United for this amazing fan engagement program. Check out out the details:
Guest contributors are the opinion of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Creative Allies Inc. or its affiliates.