Fans of soccer club Atlanta United have reason to celebrate as their team has remarkably secured a place in the Champions League for 2021, a critical step to sinching an overall victory for the season. Now, it's only a matter of time before the team takes to the field in one of the year's most anticipated events.
So, why is Atlanta United playing the Champions League at Kennesaw State's stadium? Here's an explainer on the venue shift, and why it actually isn't a new decision.
Why is Atlanta United playing in Kennesaw? The decision was premeditated due to other factors.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic upending a lot of public events, including sports, the decision to relocate the Champions League to Kennesaw was made to accommodate a different major event. Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the usual home of the league in Atlanta, was subbed out for Kennesaw due to logistical conflicts between their games and the NCAA Basketball Final Four.
Although that decision was made in 2020 before the coronavirus, it has seemingly continued on into the 2021 season, where Atlanta United will once again take to Kennesaw to duke it out for the championship title.
Things are looking good right now for Atlanta United fans as they follow the team's progression to the championship game. They just defeated LD Alajuelense at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw in a landmark victory, one that is being lauded by fans.
"We have played one more game," explained team manager Gabriel Heinze upon reflecting on their performance against LD Alajuelense. "We have been fighting too. The most important is to keep working because we need to improve a lot of things."
The game-winning lineup for Atlanta United saw Josef Martinez take up his famed role as striker, with Marcelino Moreno and Ezequiel Barco taking on wings. Franco Ibarra, Santiago Sosa, and Emerson Hyndman secured midfield, while George Bello, Miles Robinson, Aton Walkes, and Brooks Lennon served as back four, flanked by Rios Novo as goalie.
This lineup saw a noticeable switch from their previous one. Josef Martinez stepped in for Lisandro Lopez, Marcelino took over for Jake Mulraney, and Rios Novo had to sub in for Brad Guzan, thanks to a red card he received last game.
"We controlled well in the first half against a team that was waiting in its own half," Gabriel added about his team's performance, but offered some words of wisdom to his players going forward. "We need to be more patient when we have the ball."
It's clear that eager fans will have to wait and see what Atlanta United does with its well-deserved and highly competitive position in the Champions League. The 2021 Champions League final is set to take place on May 19, 2021.
The anticipated matchup will take place at 2 p.m. EST.