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MLS attendance report: May 10, 2009


This week’s nine matches averaged over 14,800, about 1,300 less than last year’s seven matches.

The NBA and NHL playoffs continue. Boston, Dallas, Denver, Houston and LA have teams alive in the NBA, while the NHL still shows Anaheim, Boston, Chicago and DC(well kind of, the Capitols). I’ll leave it to smarter folks than me to decide the impact on Houston, Chicago and DCU, all of whom had home games this week.

Chicago, despite being just 2 points out of the lead in the east with a game in hand drew under 11,300 with decent weather and perennial powerhouse New England in town. The Texas derby was close to the average for previous Houston matchups, drawing just a bit under 17,000. Columbus, celebrating the 10th anniverary of Crew Stadium ran a lot of promotions, including some price rollbacks to 1999, and still pulled in an ‘average’ crowd of 14,271. Seattle gave the week’s numbers a bump with its by now expected crowd of over 29,000.

After Week 8 the numbers look like this…

 5 year comparison
 WK 861 GPYTD after WK 8
 2005  12,740   8  14,870   14,095   49 
 2006  15,331  20.34%  6  16,057  7.99%  15,974  13.33%  47 
 2007  13,222  -13.75%  7  15,024  -6.43%  15,067  -5.68%  53 
 2008  16,165  22.26%  7  15,587  3.75%  16,072  6.67%  55 
 2009  14,874  -7.99%  9  14,807  -5.01%  14,807  -7.87%  61 

Here are the attendance comparisons to 2008’s equal number of home games :

MLS Attendance – Equal # of Home Games
 AttCapAttAtt +/-GPCapCap
 Seattle 0  0.00%  29,536  NA 5  106.63%  27,700 
 Toronto 20,082  91.37%  20,180  0.49%  5  91.82%  21,978 
 LA Galaxy 24,457  90.58%  19,761  -19.20%  4  73.19%  27,000 
 Houston 18,097  80.43%  16,297  -9.95%  4  72.43%  22,500 
 D.C. United 18,802  83.57%  14,561  -22.55%  5  64.72%  22,500 
 ChivasUSA 12,882  47.71%  14,555  12.99%  5  53.91%  27,000 
 Real Salt Lake 17,802  76.96%  13,451  -24.44%  4  67.23%  20,008 
 Columbus Crew 11,574  51.31%  13,263  14.59%  4  58.80%  22,555 
 Colorado Rapids 15,582  86.16%  11,037  -29.17%  3  61.02%  18,086 
 San Jose 17,958  71.41%  11,028  -38.59%  5  86.56%  10,300 
 Chicago 16,027  80.14%  10,998  -31.38%  4  54.99%  20,000 
 NE Revolution 9,713  43.17%  10,213  5.15%  2  45.39%  22,500 
 N.Y./N.J. Red Bulls 13,494  53.57%  9,829  -27.16%  4  39.02%  25,189 
 FC Dallas 13,186  64.32%  9,747  -26.08%  3  47.55%  20,500 
 KC Wizards 9,210  88.68%  9,192  -0.19%  4  88.51%  10,385 

YTD – 61 Games
 2008   15,587    15,024   13.11%  26.23% 
 2009   14,807    14,051   18.03%  16.39% 

A word about the capacity calculations.
For my calculations, I’ve taken the 4 teams playing in football stadiums, DCU in RFK, Houston in Robertson, New England in Foxboro, and RBNY in the Meadowlands and assigned maximum capacities as follows, DCU-22,500, Houston-22,500, New England-22,500 and RBNY-25189(the posted capacity of Red Bull Arena). I took the 22,500 from an approximate average of the soccer specific stadiums in use. Capacities have also been adjusted for the few games that were moved to larger venues, such as San Jose playing twice in Oakland Alameda Colliseum for 2 of it’s 5 matches in ’08.
Seattle has supposedly added to the listed capacity for the balance of the season. When the new capacity is available, the calculations will reflect that.


Columbus got its first win, while Chicago remains the only undefeated team, with 2 wins and 6 draws. Chivas USA continues to lead the way with 22 points, 3 more than league toppers Columbus and New England after 61 games last year. San Jose and FC Dallas are still struggling with 5 and 4 points respectively.


Rookies continue to step. Wallace and Pontius of DCU, Zakuani of Seattle, Gonzalez and de la Garza of LA, Mayern of Chivas USA, John at FCD and Barnes and Alston in New England are getting significant playing time.

In case you missed it, Colorado and New England swapped Generation Adidas players with midfielder Nico Colaluca going to the Revs and defender Rob Valentino heading to the Rapids.


MLS play-ins continue in the US Open Cup. Cup holder DC United will play RBNY on May 20 at RFK and the Sounders host Colorado at the Starfire Sports complex in Tukwila WA on May 26. The two winners will join the rest of the field in the 3rd round that begins on June 30. The top 6 finishers in the 2008 MLS season earned automatic bids to the 3rd round.

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  1. Mexican Football

    May 11, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    epl: True football fans in Chicago were watching Club America relegating their brother team, Necaxa, down to 1st Division A. Very exciting matches on Saturday night in the Mexican League. The drama was off the charts. Now Necaxa, the only Mexican team to ever draw a European team in an official match, is out of the top flight.

    From drawing Manchester United in the Club World Championship in 2000… to relegation in 2009. Very dramatic. The fans were in tears. Mexican football is very compelling. Much more than a half empty Toyota Park.

    Check out the ConcaChampions final Tuesday at 9 on channel 60. Then the Mexican League playoffs Wed and Thurs on channels 44, 61, 60 and 66. Much better football than what the US offers. You’ll love it.

  2. MLS Rumors

    May 11, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Good call eplnfl..

  3. eplnfl

    May 11, 2009 at 10:29 am

    I should amend my above comments to state as lucky as the Cubs at the gate!

  4. eplnfl

    May 11, 2009 at 7:14 am

    Derek good job. MLS Rumors soccer live is spectacular. The best part about it is being with the other fans and interacting with the game on the field. A long time ago sports as a whole realized it’s business survival means media presence. The Chicago Cubs gave their product away on free TV for almost 50 years now. They are #1 in the Chicago market and have a substantial out of area following. The Fire should be have as lucky as the Cubs.

  5. Derek

    May 11, 2009 at 6:38 am

    Real soccer fans will support the leagues and teams near them. Just like real football fans in England follow/support their lower league teams near them. Yes the standard is different but they still support want is being done. I’m a American Arsenal fan living in Michigan. I love my Gunners but I also support my MLS side…The Fire. At the same time I will go to almost all the PDL games of the team near me…Kalamazoo Outrage. Is the standard of play different…yes but that does not matter if you are a real soccer supporter in the States.

  6. MLS Rumors

    May 11, 2009 at 3:54 am

    Do you want to watch live soccer? If you’re a true fan you do so stop making excuses for why you can’t or admit you’re not really a true fan of the game.

  7. eplnfl

    May 11, 2009 at 12:03 am

    Well, I predicted the Chicago attendance story beforehand. The weather was still not ideal, into the 40’s Saturday night actually and a bit damp. I do not believe the stuff that Toyota Park is “difficult to find”, but it is harder “to get to” when you have fewer $$$$ to spend if any at all. Chicago will show a spike in crowd size once the true summer weather sets in. That may still be another month away. That is a night when you enjoy the game without bringing along a heavy jacket just in-case. The impact of Blanco on the Mexican-American fan base has seemed to worn down a bit. By this time you have already had a lot of chances to go see him in person and he has announced he is leaving town which may not help fan interest.

    Do not discount the impact of Chicago teams in the playoffs. The Bulls drew attention the team did not deserve but the NBA has a large market share. The Hawks are advancing deep into the playoffs for the first time since the late 90’s. They are drawing good crowds and now media attention.

    It has been discussed in many places but the amount of soccer available to the American fan is just over the top! Name a league it’s on here. FSC, GolTV, ESPN, Direct Kick, MLS broadband, USL free online. From Friday night until Sunday night you have a game to watch. English or Spanish, live or on demand, mens or womens leagues, National teams or clubs. Yes, even while we in Chicago are still talking about who fixed the Chelsea game and why, we have to turn our attention to the live EPL action before many people are even awake on Saturday. I for one follow the EPL action for about 7 hours on a Saturday before I can even think about the Fire. By the evening, do you really want the drive time to Toyota Park, when you can watch our fine local broadcast team in HD, especially when you have to bring along a parka to the game.

    I love being part of the crowd at Toyota Park, but I did need some time to see Star Trek this weekend and it was GREAT! Almost forgot to mention Mother’s Day.

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