Major League Soccer 2014 Average Attendance: Through 5/8

photo credit: prorallypix via photopin cc

photo credit: prorallypix via photopin cc

So far this season, Major League Soccer is averaging 18,257 fans per game. This is smaller than last year’s average crowd of 18,608, but it is to be expected. Seattle, who once again lead the league in attendance by a wide margin, have yet to open up the upper deck at Century Link Field, and similar big summer crowds are still to come. The league has an outside shot at cracking 19,000 fans per game for the first time in its history.  Keep reading for a team by team breakdown of the attendance figures.

  1. Seattle Sounders FC: 38,623 through six home games. No surprises here. The Sounders have seen their average attendance increase every year they’ve been in MLS, and that should continue this season. They are opening the upper deck at CenturyLink Field for five of their 11 remaining home matches (and a friendly against Tottenham Hotspur). Last year, four such games helped the Sounders average 44,038 fans per game.
  2. LA Galaxy: 23,241 through two home games. As usual, the Galaxy are a distant second. The 27,000 seats of the Stubhub Center are rarely sold out, but they give LA a significant advantage when it comes to average attendance. With USMNT starters Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez (assuming he recovers from injury in time to go to Brazil), the Galaxy may see as much of the mystical World Cup bump as anyone.
  3. Toronto FC: 22,591 through three home games. After some discouraging years, the fans have come back to TFC in droves after a massive offseason. 22,591 represents a complete sell-out for all three home games so far at BMO Field, which will expand to 30,000 seats in the near future as it is renovated to fit the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts. For the sake of TFC’s loyal but unrewarded fans, let’s hope the recent losing streak isn’t a sign of things to come.
  4. Montreal Impact: 22,417 through four home games. This isn’t built to last. After playing their first three home matches in the spacious Stade Olympique, the Impact will play the remainder of their home schedule at Stade Saputo, which holds just 20,500. With just one win in their first eight matches, they might struggle to sell the place out.
  5. Vancouver Whitecaps FC: 21,000 through five home games. Three Canadian teams in a row. Like TFC, the Whitecaps have sold out all of their matches so far at BC Place.
  6. Portland Timbers FC: 20,786 through five home games. Between their first and second home games, Portland increased the capacity of Providence park from 20,674 to 20,814. Otherwise there is no change for the continually sold out Timbers.
  7. Sporting Kansas City: 19,902 through five home games. The defending champs have sold out every home MLS match going back to 2012, but unlike Portland, their official attendance figures fluctuate from game to game.
  8. Real Salt Lake: 19,876 through four home games. RSL are a poorly-named club playing in the suburbs of a small market…and they always have great attendance. All credit to them.
  9. Houston Dynamo: 19,671 through five home games. This is dragged down some by a small crowd for a Wednesday night match against Columbus. I imagine the Dynamo are fairly content with their current situation. They play in front of big crowds in a well-located modern stadium. One might wish that AEG didn’t treat them as second-fiddle to the Galaxy, though.
  10. Philadelphia Union: 17,415 through four home games. One gets the sense that in the club’s fifth season Philly fans are growing restless. The Union have made the playoffs just once, seen their attendance decline every season, and have just one win in their first 10 matches this year.
  11. FC Dallas: 16,687 through six home games. If they can keep this up, it would be the best attendance in club history (a record set in 1996) and the fourth straight season of increased attendance. Dallas has been criticized for their suburban stadium and poor attendance; is it possible they’ve turned a corner?
  12. New York Red Bulls: 15,953 through four home games. This isn’t good for the defending Supporters’ Shield winners, especially with New York City FC looming. But two of their first four home matches were played on Wednesday nights, and when you play in Harrison, NJ, weeknight games will not draw well. This will improve as the season goes on.
  13. Chicago Fire: 14,893 through four home games. The Fire feel stagnant, on and off the pitch. Reigning MVP Mike Magee hasn’t helped them find their first win of the season. They play in a suburban stadium with attendance that tends to hover right around here. Chicago should be one of MLS’s premier teams and cities. It isn’t.
  14. Columbus Crew: 14,756 through four home games. This is smaller than last year by a good margin, but summer tends to bring about larger crowds in northern cities especially. The Crew’s new owner has promised a new crest, among other changes, starting next season. Unlike Chicago, Columbus seems to have a sense of direction.
  15. New England Revolution: 14,056 through three home games. I could go on and on about the problems posed by playing at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. As a student in Boston, I would gladly go to Revs games if they were accessible by public transportation. The Revs have young talent that deserves to be playing in front of bigger crowds.
  16. Colorado Rapids: 13,421 through three home games. Another struggling “C” team serving as a warning about suburban stadiums. Stan Kroenke runs Arsenal fairly well, if frugally. The Rapids, though, could use a spark of some sort.
  17. DC United: 11,469 through five home games. You’ll note that the last several clubs are among the league’s oldest; that probably isn’t a coincidence. United are much better than they were last year, but the proposed new stadium can’t come soon enough.
  18. San Jose Earthquakes: 10,298 through five home games. The Quakes are in a much better position than the clubs surrounding them on this list. They’ve sold out all but one (Wednesday night) game at tiny Buck Shaw Stadium, and will finally have a place of their own next year. This number will go up before the season is over; in the summer they host the Galaxy at Stanford Stadium and the Sounders at the 49ers new stadium.
  19. Chivas USA: 8,719 through five home games. The problems surrounding Chivas have long been discussed and finally addressed by MLS. This is a limbo year. Next year, they will have new owners and a new identity. That will help, but in the long-term what LA’s second team needs is a stadium to call their own.
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