Atlanta United’s Matheus Rossetto finds his way on and off the pitch

By Dylan Butler | Posted 2 years ago

Family has always been important for Matheus Rossetto. It still is for the Atlanta United midfielder, but for the first time in his life the 25-year-old has been separated from his loved ones for an extended period of time.

Until signing with Atlanta United, Rossetto had only played in his native Brazil. He came up through the youth system of Atletico Paranaense, a club he joined at 12. He made his professional debut for the Furacão in 2015.

Even his short loan stint was with Ferroviaria, a lower division Brazilian club. 

Born in Brazil, bred in Brazil, Rossetto’s entire existence, as well as his family, was in the South American country known worldwide for its love of soccer — joga bonito is the term used to describe the beautiful game. 

And then, in February, 2020, Rossetto had a professional and cultural upheaval. He left his comfort zone and found a new home some 4,800 miles away in Atlanta, Ga.

After Rossetto’s arrival in a new country, a new league, a new club, the COVID-19 global pandemic not only changed his way of life, but also limited his ability to be around his family. With travel restrictions still in place, Rossetto said he’s still not seen his family in person since signing with Atlanta United.

“My lifestyle has always been one that is surrounded by family,” Rossetto told OSDB Sports. “Since I arrived here, I have not been able to have them by my side due to the pandemic and other factors. I had to adapt and rely more on myself, but today I see that this has been a great life experience.”

That’s the thing about a new culture — you either adapt and thrive or you wither and falter. And Rossetto has made the most of his experiences in a city that was once known for its passionate support of college football teams and the Atlanta Falcons. 

Since joining Major League Soccer in 2017, Atlanta United have taken the league by storm, shattering attendance records and regularly drawing crowds of 42,000-plus, with 73,000 packing Mercedes Benz Stadium to watch the club lift MLS Cup in 2018. 

In comparison, Rossetto’s former home stadium was Arena da Baixada, which has a capacity of 42,372. 

While soccer isn’t the national sport it is in Brazil, where, to borrow a Ted Lasso phrase, “football ls life,” Rossetto sees comparisons, especially on match days at the Benz.

“From my point of view, the U.S. is not too different from Brazil,” he said. “With every month that goes by, MLS continues to grow. It’s becoming a passion, a similar passion is evident on game days here.”

From its inception, Atlanta United have also been known as a destination club for young South American players. 

It started with Venezuelan striker Josef Martinez, whose partnership with Paraguayan playmaker Miguel Almiron was instrumental in the club’s first championship. 

Equally, if not more important, in the business of soccer, Atlanta have proved with Almiron to be able to sell a young South American player on to Europe. Almiron went to Newcastle United in the English Premier League for a record transfer fee, reportedly around £21 million. 

Martinez, who has become one of the best forwards to play in MLS, remains with the club and Rossetto is also joined by fellow countryman Luiz Araujo, who just signed as a Designated Player in August, as well as Argentines Santiago Sosa, Alan Franco, Ezequiel Barco and Marcelino Moreno and Erik Lopez from Paraguay. 

Surrounded by players of similar backgrounds, all adjusting to a new lifestyle, is beneficial for Rossetto. He eats most of his meals with them at the club’s training facility. 

And when he has a hankering for some home cooking, Rossetto said he heads to Fogo de Chao in upscale Buckhead for some authentic churrasqueira. 

On the field, Rossetto is also finding his footing in his new league. Under new Atlanta coach Gonzalo Pineda, Rossetto has become a regular in the club’s midfield, starting the last five matches as the club makes a late-season playoff push. 

While Mercedes Benz Stadium is Rossetto’s office, he hasn’t watched the building’s other tenants — yet. Consider it part of his bucket list.

“I still have not attended a Falcons game, but this year I would like to go and experience what an NFL game is like,” Rossetto said. 

Rossetto knows where to go for tickets. Billionaire Arthur Blank owns both teams.

“It’s an amazing feeling, Arthur Blank is an incredible person and respected by all,” Rossetto said. “We all know that in a short time and club history, he has helped us to win a few titles and gives us total confidence so we can perform in the best way possible.”

Rossetto has amassed 32.7K followers on Instagram, a number, like Rossetto’s career path, that started in Brazil and continues to be cultivated in the United States.

“I believe at the moment most of my followers are in Brazil, but it’s growing here as well,” Rossetto said. “ I see a lot more Americans following me and supporting me, sending me caring messages of support.”

Get updates on the launch of OSDB Plus and sign up for the OSDB Newsletter.