By AARON CRANFORD
Atlanta won’t enter Major League Soccer for another two years, but fans are showing their excitement in a big way.
In a discussion with Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on Friday, Don Garber announced that Atlanta’s expansion franchise, set to enter the league in 2017, has surpassed 19,000 season ticket deposits sold.
In Aug. 2014, MLS Atlanta owner Arthur Blank said roughly 14,000 season tickets were sold, but with today’s update, less than 6,000 available season tickets are up for grabs before Georgia’s franchise kicks off in in two years.
In comparison, New York City FC announced Thursday that they had sold more than 14,000 season tickets for their inaugural MLS season in 2015.
Here are more notes from around MLS:
PRO ANNOUNCES MLS OPENING WEEKEND ASSIGNMENTS
The Professional Referee Organization released their referee assignments for the opening weekend of MLS’ 20th season Friday.
Jair Marrufo will blow the opening whistle in the first match of the MLS season, which will see Los Angeles Galaxy play host to the Chicago Fire next Friday (10 p.m., UniMas).
Meanwhile, Mark Geiger will be the center official for Saturday’s first match, which will see the Montreal Impact visit D.C. United. In one of the most anticipated opening weekend matchups, Orlando City SC hosting New York City FC, a possible 65,000 fans will have their eyes on Alan Kelly, who will be the head official in the Citrus Bowl next Sunday (5 p.m., ESPN2).
SAN JOSE SIGN PORTUGUESE DEFENDER PAULO RENATO
The San Jose Earthquakes have added a veteran defender to their back line, the club announced Thursday.
Paulo Renato, 27, started his playing career with Portugal’s famed Sporting Lisbon in 2006, but he never made an appearance for the club after being being promoted to the first team.
Since 2010, Renato has moved around quite a bit, jumping from club to club in Portugal’s first and second divisions. Most recently, he made two starts with CDR Quarteirense and 13 starts for Operario in 2014-2015.
“Dominic and I traveled to Portugal this year, and Paulo was a player we identified,” Earthquakes general manager John Doyle said. “Paulo is a well-rounded player and a solid defender. He will be an important part of the team this season.”
IMPACT SELL MORE THAN 3,000 TICKETS SINCE FIRST-LEG DRAW WITH PACHUCA
The Montreal Impact announced Thursday that they had sold more than 3,000 tickets for the second leg of CONCACAF Champions League action against Pachuca next Tuesday.
With a surprising 2-2 draw in Mexico, Impact fans have something to be excited about, it seems.
“It feels like there is more interest for this crucial match,” executive vice president of soccer operations Richard Legendre said. “We have reached our objective with a 2-2 draw in Mexico because it is an excellent result under very difficult conditions. However, we are only half way there. There is still work to be done and we count on the support of our 12th player to help us make history and reach the Champions League semifinals for the very first time.”
In total, the Impact has sold more than 20,000 tickets for next week’s return leg.
What do you think of Atlanta’s ticket sales? Do you like the PRO assignments for the opening weekend? How impressed are you with San Jose’s signing of Paulo Renato?
Share your thoughts below.