Eschewing the comforts of home and warm Southern weather, a small group of Atlanta United FC supporters will travel and brave the below-freezing weather expected on Sunday when they take on Minnesota United FC in the first clash between the two newest MLS expansion teams (5 pm ET | ESPN2 in US, MLS LIVE in Canada).
“I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to go to as many of their first games as possible,” JR Francis, a long-time supporter of bringing MLS to Atlanta, told MLSsoccer.com. He purchased four tickets for himself and his family at TCF Bank Stadium to be a part of the momentous occasion in MLS expansion history.
“It just seemed like a great opportunity, especially since Minnesota is starting as well," he explained. "So, I get to watch two back-to-back home openers for new MLS franchises. It just seemed like the right thing to do at the time, until I checked the weather and saw that the high is 29 [degrees].”
It might be a cold night, but the budding rivalry between the newest “United” teams has made attending this match even more appealing for those going. For Francis, it’s not only a chance to witness the rivalry, but also an opportunity to reconnect with Minnesota supporters befriended in past NASL days.
“I know some guys with [Minnesota United supporters group] Dark Clouds from their time coming to Atlanta to play against the Silverbacks. We’ll hate each other for 90 minutes and after we’ll have some beers and enjoy each other as fellow soccer fans.”
For Terminus Legion member Justin Murphy, it’s a chance to see first-hand what another MLS environment looks like.
“I’d like to see how the other expansion team does it. I saw how [Atlanta] did it last week. I’m hoping it’s going to be just as electric,” he said.
Murphy is among the leaders of the largest Atlanta United supporters group, which said they'll be sending eight members to Minnesota. He, too, feels obligated to witness Atlanta United play as often as possible.
“I love the team and I had an opportunity to support them away from home early in the season and I just had to take it," he said. "I’m a die-hard. Any way I can support and help, I’ll do it. Even if it means spending some money and going up to a possible snow game, I’ll do it."