MLS is the LaCroix of American Sports. This Team is the League’s Lime Flavor.

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I’ve always struggled to get behind MLS. I’ve stumbled upon the occasional MLS Cup, but two teams huffing and puffing down the field wasn’t my thing. The games lacked flavor and creativity. And because I wasn’t living in an MLS city, I had a hard time engaging with with the League and wondered if I’d ever be a fan.But something’s brewing in MLS, and my new hometown team is leading the next rebrand of American professional soccer.

There are 22 MLS teams and 20 unique LaCroix flavors. Let’s say Orlando City is the Passionfruit flavor of MLS and Real Salt Lake is Coconut. Then Atlanta United FC is the League’s Lime flavor. LaCroix Lime stands out in a crowd of bland sparkling beverages. It’s the perfect mix of fizz, flavor and simplicity. It’s not trying too hard to impress you, but you’re definitely impressed.

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In their short existence as a professional soccer club, Atlanta United has quickly become the Five-Striped unicorn in a league that’s long been mired in a sea of sameness. They’ve reimagined the term “expansion team” and squashed the original DP model. They’ve made believers out of nonbelievers and turned fans into fanatics. They’re “a must-watch”, “exciting”, “attacking”, “young”, “MLS 3.0”. All this despite some very human performances in their inaugural season. They’ve made a killer first impression.

Atlanta United have a world-class manager in Tata Martino, a billionaire owner in Arthur Blank that wants to win right away and legit players at every position. They’ve built an MLS-version of Valdebebas in Marietta, Georgia and under the close eye of Academy Director Tony Annan, the club is taking a La Masia-approach to how they develop their youth players. All that plus a brand new stadium in downtown Atlanta. LAFC, the 2018 MLS new kids, will undoubtedly imitate the Southern club’s brash philosophy. It’ll be the ultimate form of flattery.

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So, what do Atlanta United and MLS have to do with sparkling water? Fans of LaCroix (I include myself here) will admit that their loyalty to the brand goes beyond taste and cool-looking cans. It’s a trendy brand, but it’s also the alternative to mainstream sugary sodas that the masses flock to.

MLS fans and the new scarf-wearing MLS hipsters can admit that their loyalty to club isn’t dependent on style of play, trophies or star players. Those are all nice-to-haves. MLS fandom stems from a love of city and community, the social clout of being a founding member or season ticket holder, and the close relationship between ownership and fans. In year one, Atlanta United is checking all the boxes.

The hype is real. Atlanta United is single-handedly changing MLS. And it’s refreshing, like a nice, cold LaCroix Lime.

5 thoughts on “MLS is the LaCroix of American Sports. This Team is the League’s Lime Flavor.

  1. I am from NJ very close to where the Red Bull flavor played and they up and left town a couple years ago leaving the area with a soccer stadium built on a land fill with no one to play in it. As we have the Brand New Meadowlands Stadium a mere 20 min away, any international teams that come to the tri-state area are slated to play there, thus rendering Red Bull stadium useless. That being said, there was a lot of money put into the development of that area and my fellow New Jerseyans are left holding the (trash filled) bag. The MLS ownership did not care about the fans or anyone else in that matter and have left a bad after taste of chemicals in my mouth.

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    • Uncle Arthur (Blank) can’t own every MLS team, so I understand if you feel like the NYRB ownership has failed to engage fans. But do you really think Red Bull Arena is useless? The US Men’s National Team chose Red Bull Arena to host their September WC Qualifier against Costa Rica. A huge game.

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  2. I’m gonna leave this here and add to my original post:

    All this nonsense about Atlanta FC redefining the MLS and self proclaiming yourself the quintessential La Croix flavor might be a little premature….Don’t get me wrong, passion fruit is arguably a great flavor. But it doesn’t hold a candle to big daddy Lime in the La Croix world. However, as long as Atlanta FC is floundering down in 7th place in the Eastern conference with 11 points, I find it hard to believe the argument that they’re redefining anything at the moment…..

    This has become a regular thing in the MLS in recent years. New teams introduced to the league show up with world-class facilities, soccer specific stadiums (sometimes), an owner with bottomless funds, a great fan base with an enviable passion for the game and a determination to prove that they belong in the big leagues. While these are all important for the success of the team off the field, this does not necessarily translate to on field success.

    Case in point: Passion Fruit FC (Orlando City) had a decent inaugural year, with amazing, record-setting turn outs every game from a passionate and voracious fan base. But they finished outside the playoffs, and within a year of their debut in the United States’ top flight, their head coach, who led them through the biggest transition in the clubs history, was gone. No sentimentality. No loyalty to a beloved coach who helped bring them out of obscurity and into the national spotlight. Because at the end of the day, soccer is a business. And business’s are results-driven. Irrespective of what happens outside the field, no one takes notice until they make an impact on it.

    What I like about ATL FC, is they have a great, solid foundation for success. Their fan base is strong and loyal, they have an owner willing the splash the cash, a good business model, a world-renown head coach with vast experience, a new world class stadium and a young talented squad of players determined to make their mark. They certainly have all the tools necessary to become a force in this league. However, if they fail to even qualify for the playoffs this year, it’s hard to imagine their mark on this league will be any bigger than any of the new teams in the last couple years. Simply put: they need to start winning. I look forward to watching how their first season enfolds and the ensuing discussions we have about it…

    Also, keep up the good work with this blog brotha! Your articles are interesting reads on fascinating topics and I look forward engaging with you and anyone else on here about them.

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    • There’s Jonathan bringing the thunder! No doubt that Orlando City is a respected club in MLS. From the outside looking in, they appear have all the tools to be a perennial title contender. Plus, they’re stadium and knowledgeable fan base are difference makers. Hinging ATLUTD’s year-one success on a playoff run is bold. Injuries and depth have slowed them down. But I think you just started a Orlando City / ATLUTD rivalry. Well done.

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  3. Haha yesss!! Love it. Finally. Rivalry of the South. I needed a more proximate rival. Closest I’ve had so far was with Bamel/Liebman and NYCFC. Not so much a local derby in any sense. Maybe we can get them to chime in on here some day.

    And yes, hinging their success on a playoff bid is quite a bold statement, but then again, so is “Atlanta United is single-handedly changing MLS.” One could argue that sentence is the epitome of boldness. But I appreciate your optimistic support for your home team. I error on the side of caution these days, as my own enthusiasm and support for my team has dwindled slightly as the realities of the top flight of American football sets in. I’ve become much more realistic. As hard as you cheer and as loud as you get, we’re only as good as those 11 players on the field. And up until this season, they just haven’t been good enough. *Fingers crossed this year*

    This is not an easy league to be successful in. The soccer lover in me, really hopes ATLUTD does well and has short term success. But the deep-rooted, anti-ATLUTD Orlando City fan in me says “See ya July 21st, ya jabroni!!”

    …….Oh, and by the way, ATLUTD is one hell of an acronym. It’s almost the length of a entire word. Might as well just be ATLANTA at this point, no?? Just a thought…

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