Edgar Davids, the Juventus and Netherlands national team legend, was in town Wednesday to see Atlanta United challenge Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City, a few months prior to his former team playing in the 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target. Juventus will be taking on the MLS All-Stars on August 1 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Before the match, Davids enjoyed a full day in Atlanta, taking in the sights at Ponce City Market and hanging out with Atlanta-born hip-hop star Waka Flocka to get a better taste of the local culture.
Davids spoke to the media at halftime about the upcoming matchup between his beloved Serie A side and the best players in MLS.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for both sides,” he said, adding that it would be a great chance for fans to “watch the best players from Italy, and Top 5 in the world, play in the U.S.”
And for Juventus: “It’s nice to keep the fitness, and also to test the atmosphere here in the U.S. I think for them it’s always nice to be in the U.S. And also showcase what they can do and also what level of quality they stand for.”
Edgar Davids in the building looking fly as hell pic.twitter.com/Cap373bAdd— Dirty South Soccer (@DirtySouthSoc) May 10, 2018
“[This] is a nice stadium,” he said of the Benz. “I like the concept how it opens as well. If it was in Europe, in would be in the top. This one is definitely in the top category.”
Davids won three Serie A titles with Juventus (1998, 2002-03), played for several more top clubs in the world — including Ajax, Barcelona, and Inter Milan — and made 74 international appearances for the Netherlands (1994-2005).
After retiring, he lived in Atlanta for a brief six-month period in 2006. Since his last trip, he says the level of play in the U.S. and MLS has “grown exponentially.”
“If you see that a lot of players want to have a career or want to go to MLS, that’s a good sign,” he said. “And you see it now, the game is quicker, tactically they are much better than before. And it also comes that you get better coaches like [Atlanta United Manager] Tata [Martino]. He is a good coach, he was at Barcelona. That is what they need now, is good coaching to really build onto the structures, and train them tactically.”