Atlanta fans help to bring win while players bring thankfulness to the fans
My good friend Hershel Walker gets mobbed by everyone at UGA whenever they see him. Since he is such a legend he is given universal respect and love. He has never ONCE in the 30 years seen him deny someone an autograph. I mention this because it certainly looks like ATL United will soon have our legends that live forever in the mind of the city in which they dominated. Fame for the best is rarely if ever fleeting. There are of course notable exceptions I.E O.J. However, for the most part, Atlanta United players carry themselves with class. For some of the players I have met it has been an honor for them to give me some time just to talk about Football. Autographs are not what I am out for obviously.
The main aspect is what Herschel has mastered throughout his life. It is some combination of humility, honor, pride, respect for all his teams, but most of all it is a thank you from Hershel to them. A young man from Johnson County High School grew up for the most part never thinking anyone would want his autograph. It certainly is not the only reason, but it always seemed like he is happy to sign whatever is asked. Not because he thinks he's famous and they should want it, rather he is happy someone wants him to sign something for him. Hard to believe but its the truth. Hershel is as classy as they come.
All of our Atlanta players are graced with that same love for the fans. The fans coming out to support on Saturday was amazing. The Supporters Section going crazy the entire game, the contest tied so closely everyone was worried. Yet our fans never gave up and neither did our top-flight players. That class that our United Players show for us I believe is directly correlated with what the crowd does for them during the games. After every single post-game, win or lose they talk about the fans. There is a lot to be said about faith with this team.
Although I have not met all of the players yet, many of the ones I have seem to possess that same quality of characteristics. They are happy you are asking them for an autograph and grateful to have such loyal fans. They are humbled by it. The action holds more success than people realize. When boos are heard in any pro or college stadium it saddens me. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into just standing on that field. Never even knowing whether or not you will play another snap, or kick another free-kick.
Atlanta has had such an unreal beginning to the first few blistering years of soccer in the great city of Atlanta. It was wonderful to beat the Union and see beers randomly tossed in the air in every direction. That is football. Fans hugging or high fiving those next to each other. It makes sports such an amazing human endeavor not just for those on the field, but up in the stands too.
The most important shoutouts of that game belong to 3 players. Let's call them my 3 Stars of the game:
#1 Darlington Nagbe: This man for my money should be in consideration for one of the best players in the MLS. Nagbe is all over the field every game. He never takes a break at any time during the match and recovers balls that he loses with such tenacity that it is impossible not to be impressed with the guy. United are paying him I believe just under 2 million dollars. I think that the price tag is going up shortly. He is the most reliable midfielder I have ever seen in the MLS. He is becoming more and more Anglo Kante by the match.
#2 Julian Gressel: Everyone must be sick of hearing my praise about the young German, but the guy has such deceptive speed and can put the ball in with such ease and perfection, that I have no idea how an EPL team has not picked him up. I know that he may not be the fastest player in the World, but sometimes looking slow can confuse defenders. I ran a sub 4.55 in the 40 at 250 lbs when I was at my prime, but no one believed that the watch was right. We had to do it twice to confirm it. It works as almost an illusion weirdly. He also has an uncanny ability to find space when it opens up.
#3 Josef Martinez: Martinez had a chance to put away at least 2 goals in the 1st half, but he missed striker the ball right off the keeper both times. Regardless of his play throughout the rest of the season is needed more than anyone else. When he is not scoring he brings others up by way of distraction. He is the golden boy and will need to also score to bring ATL once again to the promised land
Also, I wanted to add that I found a great article that was written by my favorite player I have met briefly, Josef Martinez. He is truly one of the classiest people I have ever met, and this article is about family. It struck me because I am first-generation Hispanic as well, and I know how much love is inside familys that go through everything together. It makes us all better teammates like Martinez. I will pass the hyperlink below. The article is from last year, but I had not gotten the chance to read it. #7 is what we called in football a trench partner because you want him next to you when those bullets start flying because you know unequivocally he will have your back to the very end and so does he.