MLS attendance report: May 31, 2009


This week’s nine matches averaged just over 16,000. After 84 matches, the league is drawing 1,278 fewer per game than the first 84 games last year, a 7.9% decrease.

The weekly average was down from last year but can be understood as last years numbers included a special soccer doubleheader with FCD at the Revs and the national teams of Brazil and Venezuela; the doubleheader drew 54,045 to Gillette Stadium. Compared to a ‘normal’ crowd of 15,000, this year’s weekly average would be up by 1,000.

Unfortunately rainy weather kept the crowd in Columbus down to under 9,000, which wiped out the 14%+ increase the Crew were experiencing coming into this week’s play. The matchup of league leaders Chivas USA and Chicago drew a nice crowd of over 20,000 for the ESPN nationally televised game. Last year’s visit by Blanco was also played on a Thursday and drew over 24,000. New England, Los Angeles and Houston drew decent crowds, while San Jose and Seattle were both near capacity. The week closed out with a disappointing crowd for the Fire/Dallas match despite the terrific weather and no competing NBA or NHL playoff games. Chicago’s YTD dropoff is till over 30%.

After week 11 the numbers look like this…

 5 year comparison
 WK 1184 GPYTD
 2005  12,352   6  14,270   14,642   71 
 2006  12,645  2.37%  7  14,967  4.88%  15,383  5.06%  67 
 2007  17,753  40.40%  7  15,020  0.36%  15,491  0.71%  72 
 2008  20,594  16.01%  7  16,159  7.59%  16,226  4.74%  77 
 2009  16,066  -21.99%  9  14,882  -7.91%  14,882  -8.28%  84 

Here are the attendance comparisons to 2008’s equal number of home games(84):

MLS Attendance Averages – Equal # of Home Games
 AttCapAttAtt +/-GP% of CapCap
 Seattle 0  0.00%  29,468  NA 6  92.09%  32,000 
 Toronto 20,091  91.42%  20,198  0.53%  7  91.90%  21,978 
 LA Galaxy 24,834  91.98%  19,228  -22.57%  6  71.21%  27,000 
 Houston 16,704  74.24%  15,641  -6.36%  6  69.51%  22,500 
 ChivasUSA 14,090  52.19%  15,625  10.89%  7  57.87%  27,000 
 D.C. United 18,772  83.43%  14,816  -21.07%  6  65.85%  22,500 
 Real Salt Lake 17,437  77.48%  14,629  -16.10%  5  73.12%  20,008 
 Colorado Rapids 14,540  80.40%  12,410  -14.65%  4  68.61%  18,086 
 Columbus Crew 12,383  54.90%  12,369  -0.12%  5  54.84%  22,555 
 NE Revolution 10,822  48.10%  11,594  7.13%  4  51.53%  22,500 
 Chicago 16,673  83.36%  11,422  -31.49%  5  57.11%  20,000 
 N.Y./N.J. Red Bulls 13,525  53.69%  10,966  -18.92%  7  43.54%  25,189 
 San Jose 16,483  72.70%  10,882  -33.98%  6  88.23%  10,300 
 KC Wizards 9,445  90.95%  9,431  -0.15%  5  90.81%  10,385 
 FC Dallas 14,170  69.12%  9,417  -33.54%  5  45.94%  20,500 

YTD – 84 Games
 2008   16,159    14,837   13.10%  26.19% 
 2009   14,882    14,248   16.67%  16.67% 

My disclaimer 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.
I’m now using 32,000 for Seattle’s capacity. Thier previous announced cap was 27,000. Since they haven’t drawn less than 28,000, I’ve recalculated all of the Sounders’ games to the new number.

Mid Week

The week started off with Columbus sending San Jose further into the depths. Unfortunately for Columbus, Brian Carroll left the game with what appeared to be a severe shoulder separation that will keep him on the sidelines for at least 2 weeks and possibly much longer.

Also on Wednesday, Houston acquired Dominic Oduro from the Red Bulls for a #1 in the 2010 draft and a #2 in the 2011 draft. Here is Ives take on the trade. Oduro was supposed to be part of a ‘speed kills’ offense along with Dane Richards and Khano Smith. Alas it hasn’t worked out that way for the Red Bulls. They are near the bottom in goals scored and currently sit last in the east, 7 points out of the last playoff position with every team ahead of them having games in hand.

The clash of the league frontrunners, Chivas USA and Chicago was a card littered affair with 12 cards shown. It looked like the league leading defense of Chivas would prevail as they gamely held onto a 2-1 league even after Jesse Marsch’s 2nd yellow reduced them to 10 men in the 63rd minute. But the substitution of Patrick Nyarko sparked a comeback by the league’s top goal scoring team and the Fire remained undefeated with a 3-2 win capped by Blanco’s 2nd PK goal in the 96th minute.

On Thursday, Chivas USA signed outside midfielder Cesar Zamora to a developmental contract. Zamora is the third full roster player to have come from Chivas USA’s youth system. joining Jorge Flores and Gerson Mayen on the senior club.

People in the soccersphere that bemoan the lack of a youth system similar to those in far more established leagues need to take a step back and see that it’s beginning to happen here. I’ll be interested to see if the youth systems are part of the CBA negotiations. When will the league remove the shackles and permit teams to sign as many of their own youth system players as they like?


New England came away with a much needed win against conference rivals DCU. After dominating the first half, United would suffer the consequences of scoring only once(2 balls hit the crossbar) and the game was won on a 90th minute PK when Brian Namoff was called for pulling down Taylor Twellman in the box. Four of the best of the recent draft were on display in this match: Wallace and Pontius for United; Alston and Barnes for the Revs.

Conor Casey scored a brace as the visiting Rapids defeated the Red Bulls. The 2008 MLS Cup runners up finished a 4 game home stand with 4 points from 12 and now go on the road for 7 of their next 9 matches. To make it more interesting, Boyens will miss the next 4 matches while Pacheco and Rojas will miss the next 2 due to international callups. The Rapids are looking strong, with 2 wins and 2 draws on the road and no losses at home. They are a solid 4th in the west with 2 games in hand over leaders Chivas USA. Houston appears to have emerged from their familiar early season slumber as they scored 3 goals in 4 minutes and cruised to a 3-0 win over TFC at Robertson stadium.

The Wiz and Gals draw in LA.
LA were reduced to 10 in the 58th minute. I didn’t see much of this game, but the few times I tuned in it appeared that KC were the more dangerous side even before LA went a man down. LA will have to do without red-carded central defender Berhalter next week. That comes on the heels of losing last year’s Rookie of the Year, defender Sean Franklin for the foreseeable future. Add to that they lose their main man on offense, as Donovan heads for national team duty. This could be the stretch where LA starts to lose touch with a position in the playoffs. Kansas City will have to be disappointed as Buddle’s goal in the 87th minute gave short handed LA a draw. The key man in KC’s goal was Roger Espinoza who will miss the matchup with the Crew next week as he will be with the Honduran national team.

San Jose finally got a win as RSL’s road woes continue. The ‘Sigi Bowl’ ended in a draw in Seattle. A good result for the Crew who started the game with Schelotto on the bench, Brian Carrol out with a shoulder injury and Frankie Hejduk out nursing a groin injury along with the continuing absence of keeper Will Hesmer and playing on 2 days rest. The Crew have played seven matches without a loss after a shaky start to the season.

End of Week Shocker

Maybe it was the 3 games in 8 days. Or maybe the Fire were missing Blanco, already with the Mexican national team. Maybe it was too much Giordano’s pizza. Whatever the case, the last MLS undefeated team lost to bottom of the table FC Dallas by a convincing score of 3-0 at Toyota Park. Chicago will be without Blanco(MEX), Segares(CRC) and Soumare(Mali) for their June 5 match with Houston.

Cautious Optimism

A donor has been found to help RSL player Andy Williams’ wife. Marcia Williams is suffering from a rare form of leukemia.

US Open Cup Field Set

Seattle and Colorado met in the last MLS play-in match of the US Open Cup on Tuesday and Seattle came away with the berth in the tournament with a 1-0 victory. Check out the US Open website to see the first and second round pairings. The eight MLS teams begin play in the 3rd round on June 30.

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