1. Love it, or hate it -- Smoke is back! With more liberal rules governing the parking lots by Mercedes Benz Stadium compared to Georgia Tech's campus; La 12 de Atlanta hung back behind the core march to the stadium and put on a show of their own -- popping red and black smoke that engulfed their prosession while their largest flag ghosted in and out of view like a like a dragon flying through storm clouds. Meanwhile, Atlanta United thought they'd partake in their own pyrotechnics in the closed stadium, but with less impressive side effects from the smoke. Unfortunately, as a result of club's own "official" smoke on Sunday, there will be no fireworks during the match until the roof is opened as a result of decreased visibility for supporters standing in the 300 tier of The Benz.
2. Josef makes even grown men fight over him. While in the plush Delta Club 360 lounge I witnessed 3 middle aged men get into a brawl over whether or not it's appropriate to stand on furniture to see over the crowd at the player rope line. It quickly broke up, but not after some ripped jerseys, and one man's bloody face as the result of being repeatedly stabbed by a fist full of those free flags handed out to fans on their way in the stadium. After speaking with an official Atlanta United representative, I was told to expect to see security beefed up in numerous areas during future matches. While that's good to know, here's my two cents. First, if you're over 12 -- don't stand on the club lounge furniture and if you're under 12, it's up to your parents to determine whether that's acceptable. Also, I don't know what this says about my mind set, or us as a society, but I admit that when I saw flags being handed out to fans my first thought was actually "they're giving us weapons!?" -- and so it does appear anything given out for free can be turned into one. Lastly, if you're going to fight - take it outside because either way, you knuckle-heads were too busy fighting to notice that Josef Martinez walked by, and so that, plus the spilled craft beer and ripped jerseys mean you all lose at life.
3. The one rule of Golden Spike club is, "Don't Trip". Whether or not the ritual is your cup of tea, being lucky enough to participate in the Golden Spike ceremony is a very unique experience. I was one of five such lucky individuals nominated to carry the spike to the stage in front of the Supporters Section for, in this case, a very befuddled looking Zach Brown, to hammer in. Being the first match at our new digs, I didn't know what to expect. As it turned out, there were a couple tweaks to the process and we ended up carrying the spike into a roaring stadium, down the steps taking us the length of the entire Supporters Section before transferring it to the capos on the stage pitch-side. From start to finish it did take quite a long time to walk down the steps, so I don't know if they'll stick to this new workflow. All I know is there's nothing quite like it that I can think of, and I'm glad we have a tradition that supporters can become a living part of. You can find my GoPro footage of my first-person view of the Golden Spike's journey from red carpet to the stage posted on my Twitter timeline and on YouTube. Link: https://youtu.be/gWk0DBqYeCA
4. Guzan is a goal stopping angel. Thanks in part to two big saves; another clean sheet means Guzan is single handedly ensuring that the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation is getting a $2000 check from Atlanta United -- which is exactly what happens every time the club walks away with a clean sheet. That's right, so far $12,000 has been raised this season and if Guzan keeps us clean for our remaining match schedule he could end up helping ensure another $18,000 goes to the charity. His "Mr. Clean Sheet" moniker is starting to take hold. If he doesn't dress up as his alias on Halloween I'll be very disappointed.
5. If we're the Kings of the South, then let's act like it and show some grace for those effected by the recent hurricanes. While we were enjoying our inuagural match day at Mercedes Benz Stadium, Florida and parts of Georgia were getting pummeled by Hurricane Irma, and Houston is just getting started with their recovery efforts. So maybe for the next few weeks when you see a car or truck with Florida plates driving too slow for your liking, or maneuvering around like they're lost -- instead of the customary greeting we tend to use with such Floridians -- maybe cut 'em some slack this time. Donating money is great and all, but as Kings of the South we have some responsibility to show some southern hospitality to those visiting our state as a result of the recent devastation. And while we may not all have funds to donate - offering a smile and a wave is free, and can go a long way for someone out of their element and possibly even out of a home.