Behind Enemy Lines

Hanging out with my cousin, Adam Hudson (left) in Atlanta with Atlanta United Fans. Photo by Loyd McIntosh

Behind Enemy Lines

Birmingham Dudes In Atlanta By Way of New York

I got a text late one night to find a note from my cousin Adam, a dude I haven’t hung out with or even talked with much over the last few years, with the exception of a few political arguments on Facebook. His message was simple: “I’ve got an extra ticket to NYCFC @ ATL United Sunday. You want to go?”
I reply, “Heck yeah, I’ve been wanting to get over there and check it out.”
“The catch is,” he says, “It’s in the NYC supporter section…”


This is where a little background information is necessary. Adam and I were both born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, and while I’ve largely stayed in the area, with the exception of a short stint at a newspaper in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Adam, on the other hand, can barely stand still.

After a year at UAB, he joined the military spending a year in the DMZ in Korea, as well as time in Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, as well as about a dozen other countries. Since leaving the military, he lived in New York City for a while, followed a girlfriend to Austria, escaped said girlfriend by bolting to Atlanta, before heading back up to New York where he lives now. Somewhere along the line, he became a soccer fan, more specifically a fan New York City Football Club (NYCFC) fan.

I, on the other hand, have loved soccer since I was a kid. I played a few years in college, worked as a coach, and even edited a soccer magazine for about a year. Despite my Southern roots and my general inability to support any team from Gotham, I jumped at the chance to see two of the best teams in MLS battle it out at Mercedes Benz Stadium.

With my cuz decked out in his official NYCFC gear and me trying to blend in with both sides, we hit the town to take in the city’s fresh and exciting soccer culture. What follows are just some of the sights and sounds of a day of pubbing, tailgating, and soccering in Atlanta.

The cuz sporting his #nycfc kit in #meehanspub in Atlanta.

A post shared by Loyd McIntosh (@cl_mack) on

We met up at Meehan’s Public House, an Irish bar just a short walk from the stadium in the heart of Downtown. The “official” pub of NYCFC fans in Atlanta, it didn’t take long before the place was overrun with blue Etihad jerseys singing songs and drinking pints of beer.

Despite the cold temps and a light, intermittent drizzle, Adam and I walked over the tailgating area, a series of parking lots just outside the stadium. Having only joined the league in 2017, Atlanta United by far leads MLS in attendance and a vibrant tailgating scene has quickly taken shape.

While some Atlanta United fans weren’t too thrilled to see NYCFC fans in their midst, we soon found most were more than willing to share a beer or a taco and pose for photos.

Hanging with some really cool #ATLUTD fans tailgating before the game.

A post shared by Loyd McIntosh (@cl_mack) on

Before long we heard the sound of drums and brass instruments in the distance. We saw red and black smoke rising as the procession, a game day ritual, made its way through the lot. Despite attending the game officially as an NYCFC supporter, it was impossible to not get caught up in the excitement.

Inside the stadium, we hooked up with the rest of the NYCFC supporters to watch the match. Atlanta jumped out to a lead in the 29th minute as Greg Garza put one back of the net. The game went back and forth with NYCFC answering on a penalty kick from David Villa late in the first half.

Atlanta had a chance to go up 2-1 in the first half as well, however, after an official review, United’s go-ahead goal was reversed due to an offsides call.

Atlanta United did go up 2-1 midway through the second half, on a header by Chris McCann. New York responded late on an insane rocket of a shot by Alex Ring, banking off the crossbar just over the reach of Atlanta goalkeeper, Brad Guzan.

The game ended in a 2-2 draw, which allowed NYCFC to maintain its slim lead over Atlanta in the MLS Eastern Conference standings, a fact not lost on the visiting fans.

After the game, NYCFC team security insisted on escorting fans out of the stadium, but that didn’t tamp down some of the taunting between rival fans. Initially, Adam and I were prevented from leaving the stadium, but we managed to slip out a moment later unnoticed. We ended up at the Waffle House in downtown Atlanta where we shoot the bull for next hour catching up on lost time and making plans to do this again soon. Next time, it’ll be on his turf  … and I’ll be cheering for New York.



We are NYCFC!

From the Bronx all the way down to the Battery

We are NYCFC!