L to R: Carlos Bocanegra, Juan Carlos Osorio,

Tuesday morning, we were part of a select few that got a private tour of the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBZ) replacing the Georgia Dome. But before that, we witnessed a landmark moment in progress for our new football club Atlanta United. The latest club to benefit from MLS expansion, Atlanta United FC will kickoff its first season next spring in 2017.

What took place yesterday was a type of prequel to next month’s international friendly. Atlanta United Technical Director and US Men’s National Team legend Carlos Bocanegra officially welcomed two important figures: Santiago Baños (Director of National Teams for Mexico) and Juan Carlos Osorio (Mexican National Team Manager).

Remember that friendly I mentioned? Mexico is kicking off their 2016 US Tour in Atlanta, facing Paraguay, and then heading to San Diego to take on Copa America champions Chile. The match in Atlanta is on May 28 while the San Diego clash is just days after on June 1. With two exhibition matches taking place just four days before the historic Copa America Centenario, I asked newly appointed Osorio if he was worried about fatigue:

We think looking ahead, by that time, the players probably will feel fatigue. Not just because those 2 games but it’s the end of their own seasons, whether in Europe or in the Mexican league. Physiologically speaking they probably will be tired. But again I think to play for the National Team is an honor and that fatigue will be put to the side and if anything, it’ll be taxing on the mental side. We’re playing against two top teams in South America, one the actual champions (Chile) of the Copa America. So those two teams have their own players playing in Europe in top leagues. So I think it’ll be mentally taxing but I think that the Mexican National Team is ready for it, and I hope that we’ll contribute to 2 very good games.”

L to R: Carlos Bocanegra, Juan Carlos Osorio,
L to R: Carlos Bocanegra, Juan Carlos Osorio, and Santiago Baños

The city is abuzz with excitement with the return of the Mexican National Team. Their friendly with Nigeria in 2014 and their Gold Cup match against Panama in 2015 drew sold-out crowds to the Georgia Dome. As of right now, 30,000 tickets have been sold for next month’s match with Paraguay.

True football fans are excited to see Mexico try to extend their 18 match win streak (longest in the world) with Chicharito (Javier Hernandez) and Carlos Vela at the helm.

After the press conference, we proceeded next door to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, currently under construction. During our hard hat tour, we were able to get a sneak peek at the Atlanta United locker rooms, therapy rooms, suites, and an amazing city view from the top. The tour was topped off with a photo-op with our guests of honor from Mexico and Carlos Bocanegra.

Santiago Baños, Carlos Bocanegra, and Juan Carlos Osorio
Santiago Baños, Carlos Bocanegra, and Juan Carlos Osorio

These are exciting times in Atlanta. With the arrival of a new MLS club and the announcement Monday on their new Marietta training ground, ATL will definitely be in the football spirit sooner than later. This new stadium will be the best in MLS and arguably the best in American sports. Season tickets are available now with a preview center available to visit to see/feel the seating in-person.

For those in need of tickets to next month’s friendly, you can buy those HERE


-Jon J.

Photo: X

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