USL Pro 2014 Average Attendance: Through 5/8

HomeOpener1-300x200So far, USL Pro, the third division of American soccer, is averaging 3,263 fans per game this season. If they can maintain this pace, it would be the best average attendance a third-tier league has ever had in the U.S. But Sacramento’s massive crowds will get smaller in their new stadium, and there’s still more than half a season to play. Read on for a complete team-by-team breakdown of attendance.

  1. Sacramento Republic FC: 18,823 through two home games. People expected big things out of Sacramento, but this has to be a surprise. Both of their home games so far have drawn more fans than any previous USL Pro regular season match. The Republic are building a new stadium that they’ll move into shortly, and its capacity of 8,000 is already being reconsidered. If this momentum can be maintained, Sacramento may insert themselves into the conversation for MLS’s 24th team
  2. Rochester Rhinos: 6,358 through one home game. Perhaps owing to the climate, my hometown has hosted just one game so far. Though their MLS dreams have long since evaporated, the Rhinos are regularly near the top of USL Pro. They averaged 5,898 fans per game last season.
  3. Orlando City: 4,791 through four home games. This is a significant drop from last season’s attendance, but only because OCSC has moved from the Citrus Bowl (where they will play their inaugural MLS season) to the smaller capacity of Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex. The fact that they aren’t selling out every game might be concerning, but admittedly I don’t know enough about the factors at play in Orlando.
  4. OKC Energy FC: 4,230 through one home game. The other expansion club in USL Pro this season got off to a good start by selling out its first home game. By all accounts, Energy FC have been run better and drawn much more attention than Oklahoma City FC, which plans to start play in the NASL next season.
  5. Charleston Battery: 3,324 through three home games. From an expansion team, we go to a club that remembers the A-League. Charleston has always been there for U.S. soccer’s lower tiers.
  6. Pittsburgh Riverhounds: 3,078 through two home games. The Riverhounds’ ownership has MLS ambitions, but while their attendance is solid for USL Pro, it isn’t quite there just yet.
  7. Arizona United SC: 2,869 through four home games. Under new ownership, in a new stadium, and with new imagery, Arizona’s team has gotten off to a good start. But their predecessor, Phoenix FC, saw attendance dwindle after their first few games in the southwestern summer. We will see if United can keep it up.
  8. Richmond Kickers: 2,850 through two home games. One of the longest-running clubs in minor league soccer can always be counted on for solid attendance.
  9. Harrisburg City Islanders: 1,579 through two home games. Par for the course for Pennsylvania’s capital. The City Islanders have averaged between 1,400 and 1,900 fans per game every season since joining the third tier in 2004. That’s consistency.
  10. Charlotte Eagles: 855 through three home games. It’s disappointing that a large city like Charlotte has such poor attendance for their soccer team, but they have reasons. The Eagles have been in operation since 1991, but they’ve bounced around various home stadiums and often been thought of by ownership as something of a missionary exercise. The Eagles are dropping to the PDL next year; a new ownership group will take their USL Pro rights and create Queen City Soccer Club.
  11. Orange County Blues FC: 847 through four home games. The Blues moved from Fullerton to Irvine in the offseason, but it hasn’t helped their attendance in a saturated market.
  12. LA Galaxy II: 717 Through six home games. Yeah, saturated market. This is a reserve team playing its games at the same stadium as two MLS teams. There are obvious logistical reasons for the Galaxy to have their reserves so close by, but I feel as though this is a missed opportunity. 130 miles south of LA is San Diego, a city that by all accounts craves soccer, and has latched on to Club Tijuana in Liga MX. Tijuana, of course, knocked the Galaxy out of this year’s CONCACAF Champions League.
  13. Dayton Dutch Lions: 587 through three games. Here’s a riddle: how is it that one of American soccer’s poorest supported professional teams has close to 14,000 followers on Twitter? Seriously, I don’t know. If you do, enlighten me.
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