The 5 Drunkest Atlanta United Games that didn’t involve San Jose
by Jarrett Smith
That’s a hell of a qualifier isn’t it?
Why cut out my other child, the beloved Earthquakes? Well, because they get their own article about what might possibly be the most drunk “Rivalry” in modern MLS. Three games, three bouts of proverbial alcohol poisoning that Joe Cocker would consider excessive. So let’s get the rest of the list out of the way. For each game I’ll be reviewing the insanity and picking which drink best represents our pathway to bad decisions.
5. Orlando City - 2017 - 3-3 final score
Let’s start with Atlanta’s first time hosting Orlando in Mercedes Benz Stadium. The Five Stripes had ripped a win and a draw, respectively, away from Orlando in the previous two matches but the third game was a back and forth affair that could generously be called “Let’s just watch Larin, Dwyer (yes that guy!), and Josef take turns playing H-O-R-S-E. They traded goals all game long and Atlanta got abused in the air over and over again. Meanwhile, Josef Martinez did Josef Martinez things and dragged Atlanta to a draw answering the bell every time Orlando would take the lead. It is still a fun watch to this day. I started to pull up the Audi Index for this game, but every time I tried my hands slipped around my throat so I guess you will just have to find that for yourself.
Weapon of choice for getting there: IPA. It’s a kind of drunk most people have been. Effective if unspectacular, but as an observer you can keep an eye on it because something dumb will happen.
4. Minnesota Orange Ball
The first win for Atlanta United came on a snowy and cold day in Minnesota. I’m going to take a minute to shout out the fans of Minnesota. It is easy to get behind that club in 2019 going forward but woof, ‘17 and ‘18 were rough and they kept showing up and I am personally still upset to have never been able to trade for one of those cool loon hats they were wearing at times.
Back to the game, Atlanta took a bunch of South American players to an Orange Ball Special and Josef Martinez proceeded to break recently-appointed captain Vadim Demidov over a metaphorical wheel.
Snow games in MLS always have a bit of inebriation about them, but this was a seven goal beating where Atlanta was up 2-0 before 15 minutes were gone and despite the final score, Minnesota were an unlucky scramble in front of goal just before the break from being down 3-2 at halftime. Instead Atlanta just kept scoring and, to add injury to insult, John Alvbage got his leg gashed open and never recovered which paved the way for ‘Goalkeeper who catches fire and becomes un-damn-stoppable in the playoffs’ legend Bobby Shuttleworth.
This game was a barometer for both teams in 2017, but on one cold afternoon we all were kept warm by the drunkenness of two hours of orange ball madness.
Weapon of choice for getting there: Jager. Jager is like the orange ball. You know what you’re getting into. You have seen others make this mistake. Hell, you have probably made the mistake yourself, but you still do it and you still tell the stories years later. Even if the details are a bit fuzzy.
3. Campeones Cup
Hooooo buddy, remember that game that everyone said does not matter until Club America came to Atlanta looking for blood and all of the sudden it mattered? Yeah, that was the second Campeones Cup. Atlanta featured some really, really beautiful moments (yes under FdB, don’t pretend it did not happen at times) and got gutted like an extra in a Predator movie in transition more than once. There were multiple penalties, including Flo Pogba earning a penalty. I’m going to give that its own spot here.
Flo Pogba earned a penalty with a cup on the line and he was not sure how to actually draw it.
That is amazing and will stand the test of time. Emerson Hyndman did the thing where he shows up on the end of beautiful play when there are trophies at stake, and Jeff Larentowicz.
JEFF LARENTOWICZ HIT A DEFLECTED STRIKE ROCKET THAT ALMOST BEHEADED A MAN.
Jeff Larentowicz is the low-key answer to ‘which MLS player do you not want to be on the end of if he catches all of a ball?’ and he caught all of it and no one cares if it was deflected, it may go down as his last huge moment in a brilliant and underrated career.
Josef had a PK saved and then proceeded to try and rip the net off the posts. Club America then had to play down a man at the very end because we could not see enough vapor trails in our delayed vision. Atlanta won the first Campeones for an MLS team and they will not let you forget it, but two things:
One, this was a fatal mistake by Club America to give Atlanta something else to lord over MLS and two, do not ever let anyone tell you this trophy meant nothing. Both teams were out for blood that night, and they got a little liquor in their system too.
Weapon of choice for getting there: Tito Vodka and lemonade. This is a personal experience at a tailgate before an ATLUTD game a few years ago. This is a solid drink that you are planning to just relax and enjoy at a leisurely pace. Instead you find yourself wondering how you ate those three bowls of paella so quickly and why your vision feels a bit off. Your mistake will not become clear until it’s too late and Flo Pogba is drawing crucial penalties, metaphorically speaking.
2. Battery 2019
The road to glory is not always smooth. Sometimes you have to take on unexpected adventures, like going to Charleston -- a city already under eternal threat of being actively under water -- not being able to play the scheduled game because the field is under water, and then coming home to play said game behind closed doors on a college football field with only reporters and some players in the stands.
Enter the 2019 edition of Atlanta United vs. Charleston Battery. Forever known as the “Brandon Vazquez” game to me and only because ‘Leandro, your voice is very recognizable and we know it is you working the refs from the stands’ does not roll off the tongue nearly as well.
The rule with most USL teams in the US Open Cup is ‘don’t let them get an early lead where they can sit back against a deeper squad’, so Atlanta let them score early when everyone’s favorite giant Ian Svantesson pounced on a terrible turnover. It took Atlanta until the 78th minute for former Battery striker Romario Williams to equalize things.
This is when things got fun.
First of all, Charleston had a 3-on-3 break about 20 yards from goal when the ref blew for full time and sent it to extra time. This went over really well with the Battery, I can assure you.
Eventually Brandon Vazquez broke through for Atlanta after a great chip from Justin Meram, but then Charleston had one goal called back for offside and three minutes from full time, hit the underside of the crossbar which -- and I can vouch for this -- almost made a media member jump out the window. The idea of more of this game after relocations, goals and goals waved off was almost too much. Eventually Brandon Vazquez put everyone out of their misery and made it 3-1.
Weapon of choice for getting there: Irish car bombs. Everything about this is familiar. You know the pieces that make it rather well and you generally don’t let them hurt you. But when they get together they can rearrange your insides and give you a beating that makes a skele-gro potion seem like a walk in the park.
1. Minnesota 2017
Here we are. Even if you count San Jose games, this might take the cake. Atlanta and Minnesota have their fates tied together forever but that is still no excuse for the blackout drunk rampage that took place in late 2017. Atlanta was exhausted after playing on the front foot through a condensed schedule. Kyle Reynish got the start in goal because Alex Kann was banged up and Brad Guzan had been called up to the national team to sit on the bench while Tim Howard started in a World Cup qualifier in Trinidad that had zero impact on the game in this country.
Well, Kyle Reynish got sent off so it fell to Alex Tambakis to finish the game off, but not before Atlanta scored twice down a man and then gave up two late goals to lose 3-2 with the last goal being scored in the 96th minute. LGP got hit in the face twice, someone tried to rip off Villalba’s leg and thank god Miguel Almiron was already injured because this game might have killed our favorite ostrich.
This game had golazos from top draft picks, red cards, missed red cards, almost double digit stoppage time, set piece breakdowns, fourth string goalkeepers and the first home loss for Atlanta United in the Blank Tank. This would have been drunk with 11v11 but the red card and everything after that means you are heading in to get your stomach pumped.
Weapon of choice for getting there: four horsemen. It takes a combination to really do lasting damage. A four horsemen as my liver knows it, consists of Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Jose Cuervo and Jamison all in one shot glass. It’s pure evil and only a god of chaos would unleash that upon the world. The same god of chaos keeps this game on his DVR.