Here it is! The first “Monday After” of the new season. Every Monday through the end of the MLS season we will take a look at some of the weekend business stories, including attendance, broadcast and more. Today we will start with the televising of the league’s first round of games. Fans were treated to the annual free preview of Direct Kick which offered a number of matches including the tilt between Sporting and the Union. With the familiar tones of JP DellaCamera and the improving analysis of Alejandro Moreno, the broadcast had a national feel despite its local flavor. Direct Kick froze for about 8 minutes mid-game, but the telecast was otherwise well done. The picture quality of MLS Live remains outstanding, although the game was running about one minute behind the television version. In a world where people are following soccer and Twitter at the same time, the delay can negatively impact the viewing experience.
The first national telecast came courtesy of the NBCSN from BBVA Compass in Houston. Because of a long running Ivy League basketball game, the broadcast started late, although fans didn’t miss out on any o the action. The network didn’t offer a scroll explaining the delay (as has been ESPN’s custom), which left viewers wondering what would happen if the game went into overtime. That said, the NBCSN production was outstanding, with the entire team providing great commentary and analysis. the Kyle Martino “between the benches” continues to serve viewers well.
ESPN joined the party on Sunday night with the Portland Timbers playing host to the Red Bulls. Twellman and Healy manned the broadcast booth while Lalas reported from the midst of the Timbers Army. Twellman continues to improve and seems set to become a fixture in the soccer broadcast booth for years to come. ESPN really focused on the Portland atmosphere during the game and showed live coverage of the fans signing the national anthem before the game. Also, full credit to ESPN to addressing the Chivas USA, Adu and Donovan as part of the halftime.
Before we get to the attendance picture league-wide, a quick note about Chivas. Longtime readers of this site know that I have long applauded the promotional efforts of the Chivas Front Office. Using an array of game day attractions, deals and more the, the team managed to keep its gate reasonable, despite playing second fiddle in its own stadium with a roster devoid of star power. That has started to slip over the last couple of years, and the embarrassing attendance numbers (under 7,500) on opening night became a national story. It may not be time to write obituary just yet, but time is running short for that franchise rebound.
On to attendance. The Philly game drew an announced 18k plus despite the appearance of some empty seats on a cold day in the City of Brotherly Love. Vancouver followed with a 21k sellout that saw the home team hold serve against their Canadian rivals. Dallas impressively managed to seat more than 18k for their home opener. Across the State of Texas, the Dynamo played host to a crowd in excess of 20k. Seattle closed the night with a crowd of almost 39k. On Sunday, the Galaxy routed Chicago before a crowd of 20k.