ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - It was a cold, dreary, and rainy morning in Atlanta, but there was an energy heating downtown. Thousands turned out to celebrate Atlanta United’s MLS Cup victory Monday morning. It is the first major sports team which plays in Atlanta to win a title since 1995.
It started as a trickle, but as 10 a.m. rolled around, it was a sea of red, black, and gold like a lava flow, except heading back to the volcano named Mercedes-Benz Stadium which erupted Saturday night following The Five Stripes’ triumph.
The parade was broadcast live by FOX 5 Atlanta through its various social media platforms as well as on the website and app. FOX 5 Reporter Natalie Fultz helped to frame the historic event as it unfolded.
More than 73,000 people attended Saturday’s game. It was not immediately known how many people lined the streets of downtown or were able to get into the Home Depot Backyard where a special ceremony was held.
In the parade, the players, technical support, and several hundred members of the four major supporter groups: The Faction, The Footie Mob, Resurgence, and Terminus Legion. They were waving flags and chanting with the players, who were riding in front of them in an open-roof bus.
Along the route, were supporters including two kids holding signs indicating their parents might not know they were there. One read “we skipped school for this” and the other read “sorry, mom!” No word on if they got in trouble for their truancy.
At the ceremony, the players were announced. Governor Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms spoke with pride about the team. The mayor led a special cheer for the late Atlanta City Councilman Ivory Lee Young, Jr., who was instrumental in getting Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the home of Atlanta United, built.
The rally continued with Arthur Blank thanking a host of people but in particular his wife and family. One-by-one, the president, technical director, head coach, team captain, and goalkeeper appeared echoing the praise for the supporters who have been there strong since the beginning.
Atlanta-based Coca-Cola handed out special commemorative Atlanta United cans to supporters who were also clamoring to purchase championship gear.
Despite the long-rumored departure of Coach Gerardo Daniel "Tata" Martino for the Mexican National team and the decision of several free-agent players up in the air, many fans said they know the team will still remain strong next season.
But supporters will have to wait until March to see as Major League Soccer enters in 24th year. The league was formed in 1996, just four months after Atlanta’s last major title… coincidence? We shall see!