The playoffs got underway this week with both the play-in round and first matches of the conference semi-finals. The Kansas City/Houston match drew a mid-afternoon slot on the NBC mothership (up against Giants/Steelers in much of the country), while ESPN 2 and NBSCN carried other games. There was some controversy generated when MLS decided (quite reasonably) to flip the DC and New York home dates. While there were probably only about 50 people churning the dispute, the amount of anger and vitriol was remarkable. Regardless, the league and NY offered transportation to DC fans wishing to make the trip to RBA for the Wednesday night match. DC also did a great job creating atmosphere on short notice for the nationally televised game.
On the attendance front, the playoffs got started with a very weak Halloween night effort in Chicago with less than 11k at Toyota Park. The small crowd brought to mind playoffs of years past where the league struggled to fill venues in the postseason. The smallish crowds continued the next night, with less than 15k at the Home Depot Center for the Galaxy’s play-in victory.
The crowds improved in the conference semi-finals, with almost 35k in Seattle for the Sounders’ home draw with RSL. 17,500 packed the soccer side of RFK for the bizarre match between DC and New York. Houston became the second team to crack the 20k mark in the playoffs with just over 20,500 at BBVA Compass for the Dynamo’s clean victory over Sporting Kansas City.
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