The first week of the 2014 MLS playoffs are in the books. There were some exciting games and then there were some not so exciting games (unless you are a New England supporter). I’m not here to give you a breakdown of every game as there are plenty of other articles out there doing just that. What I want to talk about was the attendance or lack thereof it, I’m talking to you Columbus.
MLS playoffs began this past Wednesday as FC Dallas played host to the Vancouver Whitecaps. I was able to catch a few minutes of the match and I was disappointed to see a lack of fans in the stands. The official attendance for the match was announced at 10,279. Dallas has a listed capacity of 20,500 and had an average of 17,030 for the 2014 season. Yes, I know the game was played on a week night and everyone has jobs and kids have school the next day. However, when you only fill the stadium to half capacity for a playoff match, it is an embarrassment to the team and league.
Thursday night saw Sporting KC travel to Harrison, NJ to take on the New York Red Bulls. Just like the day before I was able to catch a few minutes here and there in regards to this match. To me it looked like there was another somewhat empty stadium. The Red Bulls have a capacity listed at 25,189 and had an average of 19,421 on the season. The announced attendance for this match was 15,518. I heard the same arguments yet again, it’s a school night and its tough location to get to with the transportation. I mean come on New York, you have one of the best players in the world playing for you team in Thierry Henry. This could have been his last game at Red Bull Arena and you aren’t going to show up? Shame on you.
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Saturday’s action got started with the Columbus Crew taking on the New England Revolution. Crew Stadium has a listed capacity of 19,968 and averaged 16,881 on the season. Only 9,040 showed up to see their team get dismantled by the Revolution. Maybe it was better that you stayed home instead of coming out to support your team. Or maybe if you would have shown up, your team would have played better because they would have had the home team behind them (probably not because the Revolution are on a roll right now).
The night game was a showdown between Western Conference rivals in Real Salt Lake and Los Angeles Galaxy. Rio Tinto Stadium has a capacity of 20,213 and averaged 20,351 on the season. Salt Lake supporters did not disappoint as shown in the announced attendance of 20,713. Salt Lake has always done well in supporting their team for as long as I can remember.
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Sunday afternoon saw the Red Bulls host the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, DC United. The attendance was a little better in this one, but not much. They had just under 3,000 more people from Thursday night with an announce attendance of 18,054. Yet again New York, one of the best players in the world play in your hometown and you can’t bother to fill the stadium on a Sunday afternoon? What’s the excuse this time?
The final game of the game for the 2014 MLS playoffs had FC Dallas hosting Supporters Shield winners, Seattle Sounders. Dallas did much better this time around on a late kickoff time for the fans in Dallas, 8 pm central time. The attendance was announced at 16,112 to watch the home team draw 1-1 with the best team in the league.
The 2014 MLS season saw a rise in attendance from the previous year. I’m not sure if the attendance will get much better with games being playing in DC and New England next weekend. Seattle will draw over 40,000 like normal which will help the overall numbers. I just find it a shame that MLS fans want the league to do better and get more recognition, but if you don’t show up for a playoff game you are not going to get that respect that you desire.