Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Podcast: United's Darren Eales on WVA, Brown, soccer in Atlanta


It took some serious Googling on my part but following is a (possibly incomplete) list of now defunct soccer teams that one time called Atlanta their home: Atlanta Chiefs, Atlanta Silverbacks (men), Atlanta Silverbacks (women), Atlanta Beat, Atlanta Beat (reincarnated!), Atlanta Express (indoor), Atlanta Express (outdoor), Atlanta Magic, Atlanta Datagraphic (I swear I am not making that up), Atlanta Ruckus, Atlanta Apollos, Atlanta Lazers, Atlanta Quicksilvers, Atlanta Lightning and Georgia Steamers.

The reason non of them succeeded is quite simple: None of the teams was nicknamed the Bulldogs.

But seriously: Soccer might just work this time. Atlanta United FC, which opens its inaugural MLS season Sunday at Bobby Dodd Stadium, has sold more than 30,000 season tickets and over 50,000 tickets for its first game. The league appears healthy, thanks to television contracts with ESPN, Fox Sports and Univision.

I've written a full column on Atlanta United's chances for success, which you can read over at MyAJC.com by clicking here.

Embedded here is an entertaining interview with club president Darren Eales:

Eales has an interesting background as a former soccer player himself who came to the U.S. to play in college at West Virginia and Brown (rare are those two schools in the same sentence), returned to England, then was recruited by Atlanta United/Falcons owner Arthur Blank to come back. A few comments from the podcast:

• On fan bases of soccer vs. baseball: "The demographics (in baseball) are much older. I see baseball a little bit like cricket in England. Cricket is the traditional summer sport but frankly nobody watches it anymore."

• On leaving a comfortable with Tottenham in England: "It was one of those moments where you say, ‘If you don’t do this now, you’ll never do this again.'"

• On playing a game at Marshall during his one year at West Virginia: "That was one of the scariest things. In England, we had the short shorts. In America, we had the long shots, like they used in basketball. So I hitched them up because I was used to having them short. I remember one guy when I went to take a corner kick and he said, ‘Oooh, nice shorts.’ I was like, 'Get me out of here.'"

To hear the podcast and all of the interviews on the "We Never Played The Game" podcasts, go to the iTunes show page, where you can subscribe for free and download of the episodes.

Subscribe to the, “We Never Played The Game” podcast with the AJC's Jeff Schultz and WSB’s Zach Klein on iTunes.

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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.