Major League Soccer continues to grow its fanbase across the country. Since the MLS launched in 1993 with ten inaugural teams, the league has expanded its footprint to 27 teams.
There has been at least one team a year added to the league, and its popularity hasn’t gone unnoticed by other sports figures and celebrities. Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey is a minority owner in one of the newest MLS franchises with Austin FC. The Houston Dynamo count James Harden and Oscar de la Hoya among their ownership group. LAFC is one of the teams in NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson’s portfolio. Ciara and Russell Wilson are two of the owners of the Seattle Sounders.
Big names are also counted among the teams’ super fans. Atlanta United FC has Producer extraordinaire Jermaine Dupri, artist BOB, Big Boi of Outkast, and NBA star Lou Williams as some of United FC’s biggest supporters.
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Jill Munroe was treated to the MLS experience for the match-up between Atlanta United – the 2018 MLS Cup champions – and Austin FC. Before the game, BOB joined us for lunch and shared how the game-day atmosphere is a big part of the excitement around the game. “It’s next level,” the artist explained. He also gave us a breakdown of what he believes is the Atlanta sports hierarchy, “First it’s the Braves – they recently won a World Series, then it’s the Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta United FC, with the Falcons coming last.”
The energy starts as soon as you arrive at the Mercedes Benz Stadium, with a vast fan tailgate taking place across the street. Music, games, food, and shots are available for your pregame experience. Once inside, Dupri ramped up the fans before the match by pounding the golden spike before kickoff.
The team started the tradition to honor Atlanta’s history as a railroad town. The Golden Spike is historically a ceremonial final spike put into a railroad track after it has been laid. For the team, the spike represents “the berth of a movement, a new home unifying culture and generations.”
Austin FC made an impact in their first match-up against Atlanta United, dominating with a 3-0 victory.