A busy week on the field in MLS, if not in the stands. Despite home games in Toronto, New York and Chicago it was not a great attendance weekend for American soccer, with disappointing crowds at a number of venues. Before we look at the attendance picture, a couple of quick business notes from the weekend. First, the MLS website continues to be a problem, with links to nowhere, statistics problems and other continuing issues. However, the MatchDay Live component has improved significantly and now appears to be relatively bug free. The picture quality is excellent and the available highlights are quite good. Direct Kick continues to be an outstanding value and a number of games were available via that package.
Unfortunately, it was a tough weekend for attendance, starting with the announced 8k+ that were in Dallas for the Thursday night game. With a large crowd sitting at home watching the NFL Draft on ESPN, MLS put a home game in Dallas in prime time which was not a great showcase for the league. On Saturday, the Red Bulls’ third home game at Red Bull Arena brought only 15k + to Harrison to seet the Bulls knock off regional rival Philadelphia. The weak crowds continued in New England, where a paltry 8k (on a beautiful night) watched the Revs fall to Colorado.
The weak attendance continued in Chicago where only 11k saw the Fire shut out Houston. In Columbus, a solid 14k braved miserable weather to see the Crew shutout defending champions RSL, while KC drew a sellout at CBA for a scoreless draw against Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, a good crowd of 14k watched Chivas USA hold off San Jose 3-2. Finally, 18,300 were in Toronto in a driving rain storm where TFC beat visiting Seattle. 2-0.
Why the low attendance? The weather wasn’t great in some cities, and that doesn’t help, but that doesn’t explain the horrid crowds in New England and Dallas. Both teams have been trending down in recent years and a mid-week match in Dallas didn’t suggest a great attendance mark and the Revs’ paltry playoff atttendance last year suggested that New England area fans were souring on the Foboro experience. In the early years of MLS, the Revs were one of the top draws in the league.