Archive for the ‘soccer’ Category

Taking Attendance 8/21/2014: Final NWSL Numbers

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

With the Houston Dash and Sky Blue FC completing a weather postponed-game last night, the second National Women’s Soccer League regular season is officially in the books. Here are the (unofficial) final attendance numbers for the women’s Division I pro league:

Team G Total Avg. Median High Low
Portland Thorns FC 12 160,341 13,362 13,633 19,123 9,672
Houston Dash 12 54,468 4,539 4,057 8,097 3,505
Seattle Reign FC 12 43,581 3,632 3,592 5,957 1,754
Washington Spirit 12 40,019 3,335 2,984 4,667 2,306
Western New York Flash 12 38,125 3,177 3,121 4,339 1,786
Chicago Red Stars 12 35,393 2,949 1,918 15,743 1,039
Boston Breakers 12 29,248 2,437 2,373 4,191 1,263
FC Kansas City 12 24,215 2,018 1,825 3,107 1,212
Sky Blue FC 12 19,682 1,640 1,339 3,471 582
NWSL TOTAL 108 445,072 4,121 3,006 19,123 582


NOTES:
  • Portland led the league for the second straight year, with an average ever-so-slightly above last year’s (13,320 in 2013) that included a league-record 19,123 crowd on August 3 that was the 10th-highest in women’s pro soccer history.
  • Expansion Houston finished second in the attendance derby, which means many will make the connection between the two MLS-backed organizations and success and figure that’s the only way forward. While there are certainly economies of scale and infrastructure advantages, it may not be as simple as every MLS team simply adding a distaff version. Portland and Houston have proven that they’re really good at selling soccer, and not every MLS team can say that.
  • Just over 48 percent of all the people who attended an NWSL match this season did so in either Portland or Houston.
  • Chicago, on the strength of a doubleheader home opener that drew 15,743, saw a 72% rise in average announced attendance in 2014, but their median was just 1,918. Most of the Red Stars’ crowds were not impressive.
  • The second-biggest gainer was Seattle, which went from a 2,306 average in 2013 to 3,632 in 2014 after a move back into Seattle proper and during a first-place campaign on the field.
  • Portland and Boston (up 0.4%) maintained their crowds of a year ago, but four other teams saw drops ranging from diminutive to disquieting. Kansas City (which moved into a better, but smaller facility) saw their average cut in half and then some (56.4%) and Western New York (which only had hometowner Abby Wambach for 10 of 24 games) saw its crowds drop 29%. Washington was down just under 8% and Sky Blue FC saw a small (1.4%) drop, maintaining its position as the worst-drawing team in the league. Sky Blue also drew an announced 582 for its April 30 game against Seattle, which was the lowest announced crowd in WUSA-WPS-NWSL history. (The club actually has the bottom four marks in WoSo history, with three of them coming this year.)
  • Overall, the NWSL’s average attendance was down 3.5% from 2013, but in comparison to the second years of the previous two attempts at women’s pro soccer, that’s a victory. WUSA’s average dropped 14% from 2001 to 2002 and WPS’ average fell 23% from 2009 to 2010. A 3.5% drop and a couple of anchor markets is cause for optimism.
  • Without the Thorns in 2014, the rest of the NWSL averaged 2,966. Last year that figure was 2,977.
  • The best day of the week for average attendance in the NWSL this year was Saturday (4,936), despite many of Portland’s home games being played on Sundays. Fridays (small sample, just six games, skewed by a Portland game) had the highest average (5,142) with Sundays coming in at 4,334. Wednesdays (on which about 27% of the league’s matches were played) pulled in an average of 2,981. Overall, Saturday/Sunday games did 43% better than Monday-through-Friday games.
  • August was the best month, with a 4,851 average for 17 matches, continuing a trend that saw games last August draw an average of 4,789. May was the lowest-average month (3,784).
  • The NWSL did see an uptick in the second half of its season. The first 54 games averaged 3,839, while the last 54 games averaged 4,403. There was an uptick during and after the men’s World Cup, with the NWSL averaging 3,889 before Brazil, 4,217 during and 4,536 afterwards. (MLS, the NASL and USL Pro also saw increases post-World Cup from their pre-World Cup averages.)
  • So, what does the NWSL do now? There have been no expansion teams announced for 2015, and next season will be a key one for this league. Neither of the other two attempts have made it past year three, and with the Women’s World Cup likely to wreak havoc with their schedule, the summer of 2015 may be make-or-break. The national federations of the United States, Canada and Mexico are funding the NWSL salaries of many star players, and it’s reasonable to wonder if that support will continue on Canada’s and Mexico’s part if they don’t do well in FIFA’s potentially lawsuit-challenged tournament.
  • Taking Attendance 8/11/2014: Guy Talk

    Monday, August 11th, 2014

    Here are the current (unofficial) attendance figures for each of the men’s professional leagues – Major League Soccer, the North American Soccer League and USL Pro – through last night’s games. Additions and corrections are always welcome.

    MLS (DIVISION I) G Total Average
    Seattle Sounders 11 474,515 43,138
    Toronto 10 221,060 22,106
    Los Angeles Galaxy 10 211,143 21,114
    Vancouver Whitecaps 11 230,066 20,915
    Portland Timbers 12 249,768 20,814
    Real Salt Lake 12 242,885 20,240
    Kansas City 11 221,385 20,126
    Houston Dynamo 11 217,940 19,813
    Montreal Impact 11 203,685 18,517
    New York Red Bulls 10 185,169 18,517
    Philadelphia Union 10 181,758 18,176
    San Jose Earthquakes 12 201,473 16,789
    FC Dallas 12 200,595 16,716
    DC United 12 198,291 16,524
    Chicago Fire 12 183,808 15,317
    New England Revolution 10 151,262 15,126
    Colorado Rapids 12 177,874 14,823
    Columbus Crew 11 157,188 14,290
    Chivas USA 10 66,367 6,637
    MLS TOTAL 210 3,976,232 18,934
     
    NASL (DIVISION II) G Total Average
    Indy Eleven 8 83,449 10,431
    Minnesota United 7 68,755 9,822
    San Antonio Scorpions 8 55,070 6,884
    Tampa Bay Rowdies 7 33,755 4,822
    New York Cosmos 8 38,182 4,773
    Ottawa Fury 7 32,825 4,689
    Carolina Railhawks 7 31,970 4,567
    Atlanta Silverbacks 7 30,585 4,369
    Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 7 24,298 3,471
    FC Edmonton 7 23,887 3,412
    NASL TOTAL 73 422,776 5,791
     
    USL PRO (DIVISION III) G Total Average
    Sacramento Republic FC 10 126,107 12,611
    Rochester Rhinos 12 64,401 5,367
    Orlando City SC 11 52,163 4,742
    Charleston Battery 9 35,493 3,944
    OKC Energy FC 11 40,726 3,702
    Pittsburgh Riverhounds 11 29,317 2,665
    Richmond Kickers 12 30,442 2,537
    Wilmington Hammerheads FC 11 26,188 2,381
    Arizona United SC 12 26,532 2,211
    Harrisburg City Islanders 12 22,981 1,915
    Charlotte Eagles 10 7,928 793
    Orange County Blues FC 10 7,817 782
    LA Galaxy II 11 7,401 673
    Dayton Dutch Lions 12 5,901 492
    USL PRO TOTAL 154 483,397 3,139

    Notes to follow in a bit.

    Taking Attendance 7/22/2014: (Mostly) Final PDL Numbers

    Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

    The USL Premier Development League regular season is in the books, and here (with some missing data) are the final attendance numbers for the top summer amateur league in the US and Canada. The Des Moines Menace led the league for the fifth time in the last six years, with an average announced attendance of 3,340 for their seven home games this season.

    Team G Total Avg. Med. High Low
    Des Moines Menace 7 23,377 3,340 3,333 3,711 2,871
    Portland Timbers U-23s 7 16,291 2,327 756 8,207 130
    Fresno Fuego #6 13,742 2,290 1,874 3,627 1,693
    BYU Cougars 7 13,215 1,888 1,609 3,075 885
    Carolina Dynamo 7 13,060 1,866 1,975 2,348 1,311
    Austin Aztex 7 12,795 1,828 1,823 2,380 1,404
    FC Tucson 7 9,717 1,388 1,098 2,983 1,012
    Ventura County Fusion 7 9,256 1,322 1,121 2,100 900
    Victoria Highlanders FC 7 9,201 1,314 1,378 1,461 1,057
    Midland/Odessa Sockers FC 7 7,838 1,120 884 1,969 587
    Albuquerque Sol F.C. 7 6,554 936 936 1,520 400
    Western Mass Pioneers 7 6,367 910 1,048 1,456 317
    Forest City London 7 5,436 777 650 1,307 369
    Long Island Rough Riders 7 4,624 661 647 985 276
    Thunder Bay Chill #6 3,691 615 615 690 557
    Laredo Heat 7 4,273 610 609 746 549
    Mississippi Brilla 7 4,182 597 604 890 402
    Michigan Bucks 7 4,160 594 402 1,238 252
    Kitsap Pumas 7 3,242 463 460 562 370
    Lane United FC 7 3,192 456 400 800 300
    Sounders FC U23 7 2,895 414 308 1,012 234
    Chicago Inferno #2 749 375 375 403 346
    Las Vegas Mobsters @3 1,125 375 350 450 325
    Ocala Stampede 7 2,600 371 214 1,075 106
    SW Florida Adrenaline @3 1,104 368 380 403 321
    Ocean City Nor’easters @3 1,097 366 424 521 152
    Reading United AC 7 2,546 364 316 609 209
    GPS Portland Phoenix 2 650 325 325 400 250
    K-W United FC $4 1,225 306 283 437 222
    Vermont Voltage 7 2,106 301 300 450 156
    Panama City Beach Pirates 7 2,043 292 265 450 215
    San Jose Earthquakes @3 871 290 286 400 185
    CFC Azul 7 1,950 279 250 450 250
    St. Louis Lions 7 1,884 269 280 396 160
    Cincinnati Dutch Lions 7 1,754 251 235 352 151
    Toronto Lynx #6 1,350 225 175 600 100
    Baltimore Bohemians 7 1,523 218 207 393 103
    Northern Virginia Royals **5 1,018 204 189 323 126
    SoCal Seahorses 7 1,385 198 240 270 105
    Real Colorado Foxes #6 1,145 191 175 400 20
    WSA Winnipeg 7 1,255 179 200 275 70
    SWVa King’s Warriors 7 1,203 172 188 204 125
    Seacoast United Phantoms 7 1,200 171 100 350 100
    F.A. Euro $4 665 166 170 300 25
    LA Misioneros FC #6 980 163 100 400 80
    River City Rovers !2 325 163 163 175 150
    Real Boston Rams 7 1,114 159 150 224 75
    Jersey Express 7 963 138 125 205 88
    West Virginia Chaos 7 965 138 135 220 50
    Puget Sound Gunners FC @3 400 133 60 300 40
    Springfield Demize 6 729 122 132 172 58
    Houston Dutch Lions 7 833 119 113 200 80
    Washington Crossfire 7 788 113 100 265 70
    Pittsburgh Riverhounds U23 #6 660 110 93 175 75
    NJ LUSO Parma #6 650 108 100 150 50
    IMG Academy Bradenton 7 740 106 100 150 90
    Floridians F.C. @2 197 99 99 105 92
    Vancouver Whitecaps U-23 7 667 95 77 177 77
    Montreal Impact U23 #6 550 92 88 150 25
    Westchester Flames 7 520 74 65 135 40
    Chicago Fire U-23 **5 353 71 78 116 16
    OC Pateadores Blues 7 325 46 50 50 30
    Orlando City U23 &0 0 0 0 0 0
    SC United Bantams &0 0 0 0 0 0
    PDL TOTAL 375 221,315 590 278 8,207 16
    # Missing 1 game            
    ** Missing 2 games            
    $ Missing 3 games            
    @ Missing 4 games            
    ! Missing 5 games            
    & Missing 7 games            

    NOTES:

    • Orlando City U23 and the SC United Bantams did not announce attendance figures for any of their games this season. I am missing 55 other data points for 2014, ranging from one to five missing games for various clubs. I don’t think the missing numbers reasonably impact the conclusions we can draw in most cases.
    • While 10 teams averaged 1,000 or more per game this season, more than half the league can’t get 300 a game on average.
    • If the World Cup raised interest in the sport throughout the country, it wasn’t expressed in PDL attendance. The league averaged 621 per game before the Cup, dropped to 556 during and then rebounded a bit to 585 afterwards.
    • FC Tucson has quietly built something over time. From an average of 681 in their first season (2012), they grew to an 800 average last year and ranked seventh in the PDL this season at 1,388. They’ll host the Western Conference semifinals and final this weekend.
    • Austin (with a game missing – anyone who can help a brother out, it would be appreciated) averaged 1,804 in its final season in the amateur ranks. The Aztex will move up to USL Pro next season, and hopefully it goes better than other PDL clubs that have tried their hand at turning pro.
    • As always, additions and corrections are welcome.

    Highlights: Arizona United vs. Orange County

    Monday, July 21st, 2014

    Here are highlights of the most recent USL Pro webcast I did, last Saturday night’s win by Arizona United over the Orange County Blues.

    Thus endeth my three-game mini-engagement with the local pro team. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to get back in the booth one last time and had fun.

    Taking Attendance Bonus: The World Cup

    Monday, July 14th, 2014

    World Cup attendance
    The 2014 FIFA World CupTM is now over, and here’s a look at the attendance figures for the event, broken out by venue:

    Stadium City G Total Average Capacity Pct. Cap
    Arena Amazonia Manaus 4 160,227 40,057 40,549 98.79%
    Arena Corinthians Sao Paulo 6 375,593 62,599 62,601 100.00%
    Arena da Baixada Curitiba 3 117,680 39,227 39,631 98.98%
    Arena Fonte Nova Salvador 6 300,674 50,112 51,900 96.56%
    Arena Pantanal Cuiaba 4 158,717 39,679 41,112 96.52%
    Arena Pernambuco Recife 5 204,882 40,976 42,610 96.17%
    Estadio Beira-Rio Porto Alegre 6 254,280 42,380 43,394 97.66%
    Estadio Castelao Fortaleza 6 356,896 59,483 60,342 98.58%
    Estadio das Dunas Natal 4 158,167 39,542 39,971 98.93%
    Estadio do Maracana Rio de Janeiro 7 519,189 74,170 74,738 99.24%
    Estadio Mineirao Belo Horizonte 6 345,350 57,558 58,170 98.95%
    Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha Brasilia 7 478,218 68,317 69,349 98.51%
    WORLD CUP TOTAL   64 3,429,873 53,592   98.40%


    Above, you’ll see where this year’s event ranks among them all in terms of average attendance. Twenty years on, the tournament hosted by the United States is still the best attended.

    Taking Attendance: Ranking ‘Em (Almost) All

    Monday, July 7th, 2014

    For this week’s Taking Attendance update, we’re going to look at all the teams in MLS, the NASL, USL Pro, the PDL, the NWSL, the W-League and even a handful of NPSL teams and see where they all rank in terms of average announced attendance.

    Caveats: There are two teams (Orlando City U-23 and SC United Bantams, both from the PDL) for which I have no data points and I have almost no crowd figures for the NPSL. I have included the few NPSL teams for which I have data just because I’m making an effort to include them and this is another step in that process. Announced attendance does not always equate to actual butts in seats or tickets sold. And outside of MLS, the NASL and the NWSL, there are some clubs for whom I am missing a game or two (or three or four). Not everyone is as reliable about announcing attendance figures as I wish they were.

    With that said, here’s the list, from 1-144:

    Rk Team Lg G Total Avg.
    1 Seattle Sounders MLS 8 320,728 40,091
    2 Toronto FC MLS 7 158,137 22,591
    3 Los Angeles Galaxy MLS 6 128,862 21,477
    4 Vancouver Whitecaps MLS 8 169,500 21,188
    5 Portland Timbers MLS 10 208,140 20,814
    6 Real Salt Lake MLS 8 161,475 20,184
    7 Sporting Kansas City MLS 9 178,574 19,842
    8 Houston Dynamo MLS 9 177,810 19,757
    9 Montreal Impact MLS 8 155,150 19,394
    10 New York Red Bulls MLS 7 127,278 18,183
    11 Philadelphia Union MLS 7 125,835 17,976
    12 FC Dallas MLS 10 169,313 16,931
    13 DC United MLS 10 168,388 16,839
    14 Sacramento Republic FC USL PRO 6 94,107 15,685
    15 New England Revolution MLS 7 107,483 15,355
    16 Chicago Fire MLS 8 122,375 15,297
    17 San Jose Earthquakes MLS 9 131,658 14,629
    18 Colorado Rapids MLS 10 145,668 14,567
    19 Columbus Crew MLS 8 104,611 13,076
    20 Portland Thorns FC NWSL 8 100,054 12,507
    21 Indy Eleven NASL 5 52,324 10,465
    22 Chivas USA MLS 9 62,416 6,935
    23 San Antonio Scorpions NASL 5 32,381 6,476
    24 Minnesota United NASL 4 22,309 5,577
    25 Rochester Rhinos USL PRO 7 38,189 5,456
    26 Carolina Railhawks NASL 4 21,456 5,364
    27 New York Cosmos NASL 5 25,203 5,041
    28 Tampa Bay Rowdies NASL 5 24,991 4,998
    29 Atlanta Silverbacks NASL 4 18,922 4,731
    30 Orlando City SC USL PRO 9 42,215 4,691
    31 Houston Dash NWSL 8 36,839 4,605
    32 Chicago Red Stars NWSL 5 21,265 4,253
    33 Charleston Battery USL PRO 6 23,250 3,875
    34 OKC Energy FC USL PRO 7 26,841 3,834
    35 Ft. Lauderdale Strikers NASL 4 15,301 3,825
    36 FC Edmonton NASL 4 14,277 3,569
    37 Tulsa Athletics NPSL 3 10,317 3,439
    38 Seattle Reign FC NWSL 8 27,240 3,405
    39 Washington Spirit NWSL 8 26,037 3,255
    40 Des Moines Menace PDL 4 12,708 3,177
    41 W.New York Flash NWSL 8 24,655 3,082
    42 Detroit City FC NPSL 5 14,082 2,816
    43 Pittsburgh Riverhounds USL PRO 7 19,265 2,752
    44 Ottawa Fury NASL 5 13,418 2,684
    45 Portland Timbers U-23s PDL 6 15,816 2,636
    46 Richmond Kickers USL PRO 8 20,069 2,509
    47 Fresno Fuego PDL 6 13,742 2,290
    48 Wilmington Hammerheads FC USL PRO 8 18,169 2,271
    49 Arizona United SC USL PRO 10 22,406 2,241
    50 Chattanooga FC NPSL 3 6,467 2,156
    51 Boston Breakers NWSL 9 18,297 2,033
    52 FC Kansas City NWSL 9 18,122 2,014
    53 Carolina Dynamo PDL 6 11,056 1,843
    54 Harrisburg City Islanders USL PRO 8 14,112 1,764
    55 Austin Aztex PDL 4 6,936 1,734
    56 BYU Cougars PDL 6 10,140 1,690
    57 Washington Spirit Reserves W-League 4 6,570 1,643
    58 Sky Blue FC NWSL 9 13,143 1,460
    59 Ventura County Fusion PDL 5 7,156 1,431
    60 FC Tucson PDL 6 8,290 1,382
    61 Victoria Highlanders FC PDL 7 9,201 1,314
    62 Midland/Odessa Sockers FC PDL 7 7,838 1,120
    63 Albuquerque Sol F.C. PDL 6 5,034 839
    64 Charlotte Eagles USL PRO 8 6,348 794
    65 W.Mass Pioneers PDL 5 3,863 773
    66 Orange County Blues FC USL PRO 8 6,005 751
    67 FC Buffalo NPSL 2 1,500 750
    68 Forest City London PDL 6 4,129 688
    69 LA Galaxy II USL PRO 10 6,866 687
    70 Long Island Rough Riders PDL 6 4,077 680
    71 Seattle Sounders Women W-League 6 3,955 659
    72 Michigan Bucks PDL 4 2,538 635
    73 Colorado Pride W-League 4 2,508 627
    74 Laredo Heat PDL 5 3,115 623
    75 Thunder Bay Chill PDL 6 3,691 615
    76 Charlotte Lady Eagles W-League 3 1,846 615
    77 Mississippi Brilla PDL 7 4,182 597
    78 Santa Clarita Blue Heat W-League 6 3,461 577
    79 Long Island Rough Riders W-League 5 2,668 534
    80 Dayton Dutch Lions USL PRO 8 4,214 527
    81 Sounders FC U23 PDL 5 2,353 471
    82 Atlanta Silverbacks W-League 5 2,326 465
    83 Kitsap Pumas PDL 7 3,242 463
    84 Lane United FC PDL 5 2,317 463
    85 Colorado Storm W-League 2 870 435
    86 Ocala Stampede PDL 5 1,993 399
    87 Chicago Inferno PDL 2 749 375
    88 Las Vegas Mobsters PDL 3 1,125 375
    89 SW Fla. Adrenaline PDL 2 724 362
    90 FC Dallas Reserves USL PRO 2 716 358
    91 Reading United AC PDL 6 1,937 323
    92 Vermont Voltage PDL 4 1,200 300
    93 San Jose Earthquakes PDL 3 871 290
    94 Ocean City Nor’easters PDL 2 576 288
    95 K-W United FC PDL 2 566 283
    96 Colorado Rush W-League 3 820 273
    97 Panama City Beach Pirates PDL 6 1,593 266
    98 New Jersey Wildcats W-League 4 1,032 258
    99 Cincinnati Dutch Lions PDL 7 1,754 251
    100 CFC Azul PDL 4 1,000 250
    101 GPS Portland Phoenix PDL 1 250 250
    102 St. Louis Lions PDL 6 1,488 248
    103 N.Virginia Royals PDL 3 736 245
    104 So.California Seahorses PDL 5 1,155 231
    105 Toronto Lynx PDL 5 1,150 230
    106 Baltimore Bohemians PDL 7 1,523 218
    107 LA Blues W-League 5 1,091 218
    108 Real Colorado Foxes PDL 4 845 211
    109 LA Misioneros FC PDL 4 800 200
    110 Dayton Dutch Lions W-League 5 997 199
    111 Ottawa Fury W-League 5 997 199
    112 WSA Winnipeg PDL 6 1,185 198
    113 Braddock Road Stars Elite W-League 4 786 197
    114 F.A. Euro PDL 3 575 192
    115 Real Boston Rams PDL 6 1,114 186
    116 Sedona FC Strikers W-League 3 550 183
    117 Laval Comets W-League 5 885 177
    118 K-W United FC W-League 4 676 169
    119 New York Magic W-League 6 1,008 168
    120 SWVa King’s Warriors PDL 5 820 164
    121 River City Rovers PDL 2 325 163
    122 Carolina Elite Cobras W-League 4 636 159
    123 Quebec Dynamo ARSQ W-League 5 776 155
    124 Bay Area Breeze W-League 4 602 151
    125 Jersey Express PDL 4 575 144
    126 Seacoast United Phantoms PDL 6 850 142
    127 West Virginia Chaos PDL 6 830 138
    128 Puget Sound Gunners FC PDL 3 400 133
    129 Houston Dutch Lions PDL 4 513 128
    130 Toronto Lady Lynx W-League 6 750 125
    131 North Jersey Valkyries W-League 5 608 122
    132 Springfield Demize PDL 5 590 118
    133 Gulf Coast Texans W-League 3 348 116
    134 Montreal Impact U23 PDL 4 450 113
    135 NJ LUSO Parma PDL 6 650 108
    136 Pittsburgh Riverhounds U23 PDL 4 410 103
    137 Floridians F.C. PDL 2 197 99
    138 IMG Academy Bradenton PDL 5 490 98
    139 Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 PDL 7 667 95
    140 Washington Crossfire PDL 5 420 84
    141 Westchester Flames PDL 7 520 74
    142 Chicago Fire U-23 PDL 5 353 71
    143 OC Pateadores Blues PDL 7 325 46
    144 London Gryphons W-League 4 183 46

    A FEW NOTES:

    • Chivas USA continues to slide into oblivion, drawing 4,201 for its game Saturday against Montreal, just over a month after announcing 5,231 against Philadelphia and an MLS-record low 3,702 against Portland. They’re a pretty safe bet to break the MLS record for lowest average announced attendance, currently held by the 2000 Miami Fusion (7,460) and to be only the second MLS team to go sub-10,000 in the last seven years (the Earthquakes- in their temporary facility – did so in 2010).
    • Sacramento Republic FC has moved from the 20k+ capacity Hughes Stadium to its own yard (capacity 8,000), so their numbers will be down, but they’re doing great. They should break Orlando’s Division III record for average (8,056) pretty easily.
    • The NASL’s Fall Season gets going this weekend, and Ottawa is hoping for a crowd of 15,000 for its first game at TD Place on the 20th. We’ll see. Tampa Bay drew an announced 4,105 and 3,033 over the weekend for friendlies against Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando City, respectively. And Minnesota United drew 8,059 for a friendly against Mexico’s U-21 team (what, El Tri‘s senior team wasn’t available?). And San Antonio drew 6,397 for a friendly against Monterrey on Sunday evening.
    • Fresno hosted a friendly between Mexican clubs America and Morelia last week, with the Fuego playing Ventura County as part of the doubleheader. The Mexican League friendly drew 13,013, but I’m not including that in the Fuego’s totals (they didn’t announce a figure for the PDL match) because that would be ridiculous.
    • FC Tucson of the PDL drew a club-record 2,983 for their match against Albuquerque on Friday, pushing their average to 1,382 for the season. At the other end of the PDL spectrum, FA Euro announced a crowd of 25 for its match Sunday against Long Island, while Vancouver’s U23 team is just trolling. They’ve announced a crowd of 77 for each of their last five home matches, after announcing 177 the match before that (and 105 for their opener). I’m missing 50 PDL games, but the league is right around its historical average (582 at the moment).
    • The National Women’s Soccer League projects out, if every team holds its average the rest of the way, to finish with a 4,068 average, just below last year’s 4,270. But considering WUSA’s attendance dropped 14% from year one to year two (2001-2002) and WPS’ dropped 23% from 2009-2010, that’s a sign of progress.

    What Are The Highest Scoring Soccer Leagues In North America?

    Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

    The ongoing FIFA World CupTM has a very good chance to be the highest-scoring tournament since France 1998 (we only need nine goals in the final eight games of the competition to surpass Japan/Korea 2002), with an average so far of 2.7 goals per game.

    Number of goals scored per game at the World Cup

    How does that compare to the various pro and amateur leagues here in the US, Canada and Mexico? Here’s a chart of the latest information I have about goal-scoring in several North American Leagues (in each case, it’s either their current season or the most recent completed one):

    League G Goals Avg.
    NPSL 383 1,469 3.84
    W-League 109 354 3.25
    PDL 318 974 3.06
    NASL 45 133 2.96
    NWSL 68 196 2.88
    MLS 149 416 2.79
    USL Pro 116 316 2.72
    Liga Ascenso 105 272 2.59
    Liga MX 153 391 2.56
    TOTAL 1,446 4,521 3.13

    NOTES:

    • Now before you go thinking “Boy, NPSL games must be really exciting!” you should know that their gaudy goal-scoring average is boosted by several blowouts. There have been 28 games (7 percent of the total) decided by 6 or more goals in the NPSL this season, including the expansion BCS Clash getting hammered 13-0 (twice), 12-0, 11-0, 11-1, 10-1, 9-1 and 11-2.
    • In fact, amateur leagues hold the top three spots, which makes sense, as defending – and competitive balance – in amateur leagues is notoriously slipshod. The second-division NASL is the highest-scoring pro league at 2.96 goals per game, with the women’s NWSL just a shade behind at 2.88.
    • Major League Soccer’s current goals per game of 2.79 is higher than any of Europe’s top leagues except for Germany’s Bundesliga (which featured 3.16 goals per game last season) and comparable to England’s EPL (2.77), Spain’s La Liga (2.75) and Italy’s Serie A (2.72). France’s Ligue 1 would be at the bottom of the table in this quick study (merci!) as only 2.45 goals per game were scored in their matches last season.
    • Obviously, goal-scoring isn’t everything (if it were, indoor soccer would be huge), but I just thought it would be interesting to compare the various leagues.

    Taking Attendance 6/30/2014: This One’s For The Girls

    Monday, June 30th, 2014

    Time to take a look at the attendance figures for the two most visible women’s soccer leagues, the NWSL and the W-League. The NWSL, a USSF-backed pro circuit, is the third (and possibly final) attempt to establish a fully-professional women’s league on these shores. The W-League has been under the United Soccer Leagues’ umbrella since its establishment in 1995. Here are the latest figures for both leagues through Sunday’s games. (As always, additions or corrections are more than welcome.)

    NWSL G Total Avg. Med. High Low
    Portland Thorns 7 86,970 12,424 13,427 14,128 10,056
    Houston Dash 7 33,146 4,735 4,050 8,097 3,505
    Chicago Red Stars 5 21,265 4,253 1,450 15,743 1,039
    Seattle Reign 7 23,535 3,362 2,875 5,770 1,754
    Washington Spirit 7 23,364 3,338 2,865 4,667 2,306
    WNY Flash 7 20,866 2,981 3,107 3,674 1,786
    Boston Breakers 9 18,297 2,033 2,018 2,876 1,263
    FC Kansas City 9 18,122 2,014 1,797 3,107 1,457
    Sky Blue FC 8 11,794 1,474 1,253 2,983 582
    NWSL TOTAL 66 257,359 3,899 2,694 15,743 582
     
    W-League G Total Avg. Med. High Low
    Washington Spirit Res. 4 6,570 1,643 749 4,598 474
    Santa Clarita Blue Heat 5 3,281 656 733 991 199
    Colorado Pride 4 2,508 627 577 1,029 325
    Seattle Sounders 4 2,300 575 578 708 437
    Charlotte Lady Eagles 2 1,146 573 573 738 408
    LI Rough Riders 5 2,668 534 425 868 308
    Atlanta Silverbacks 5 2,326 465 337 1,079 214
    Colorado Storm 2 870 435 435 700 170
    Colorado Rush 3 820 273 268 339 213
    New Jersey Wildcats 4 1,032 258 268 358 138
    LA Blues 4 871 218 145 486 95
    Ottawa Fury 3 636 212 233 253 150
    Dayton Dutch Lions 4 819 205 196 275 152
    Braddock RS Elite 3 609 203 191 252 166
    Sedona FC Strikers 3 550 183 200 250 100
    New York Magic 5 911 182 126 316 110
    North Jersey Valkyries 3 512 171 115 297 100
    Carolina Elite Cobras 4 636 159 155 251 76
    Laval Comets 4 635 159 143 300 50
    Quebec Dynamo ARSQ 5 776 155 135 277 83
    Bay Area Breeze 4 602 151 160 183 100
    K-W United FC 2 283 142 142 156 127
    Toronto Lady Lynx 5 700 140 100 300 50
    Gulf Coast Texans 3 348 116 117 121 110
    London Gryphons 4 183 46 49 51 35
    W-LEAGUE TOTAL 94 32,592 347 213 4,598 35

    NOTES:

    • Let’s get this out of the way up front, okay? The NWSL isn’t working. It’s not going to work. In Portland it works fine. In Houston it seems to work pretty well. Everywhere else? No, it’s not working. Forty seven percent of all the people who have gone to NWSL games this year have done so in those two cities. Now, two anchor tenants is at least one more than most women’s soccer leagues have been able to hang their hats on, historically, but the other clubs don’t show many signs of actually mattering to their communities. The first year was a write-off, because the league came together so quickly. But here we are now in Year Two, and there hasn’t been much progress. We will have a Women’s World Cup next year, which will spur interest in the US Women’s National Team, and there may be some spillover into the NWSL post-July 5, 2015. But then what? Mexico and Canada are contributing to funding the salaries of their national team players in this league (as is USSF, obviously), but after the tournament in Canada next year, it’s four long years until the next one. Will they have the stomach to do it again?
    • Except for Chicago (up 176% because its home opener was a doubleheader with the Fire) and Seattle (up 79% from last year’s pretty bad numbers), every second-year team in the league is showing a year-over-year decrease in average attendance. Yes, even Portland, though it’s only three percent and nothing to worry about. Washington (-11%), Sky Blue FC (-13%), Boston (-15%) and Western New York (-21%) are all causes for concern, but Kansas City’s drop (they’re off 56%) is largely because they moved into a much smaller (though more appropriate from a soccer standpoint) venue this year. The league as a whole is off 10% from its 66-game total a year ago. And without Portland, the league average is currently 2,888 and projects out to 3,024 (it was 2,977 without the Thorns in 2013). With Portland included, the league projects (if everyone holds their current averages) to 4,068, a slight drop from last year’s 4,270.
    • Eighteen of the top twenty crowds in the NWSL’s short history have been in Portland (no surprise). The largest non-Portland crowd was the 15,743 for Chicago’s (doubleheader) home opener and the only other crowd to break 9k was the 9,129 who turned up in Rochester for last year’s championship match.
    • Conversely, the four lowest crowds in league history have all happened this season, all at Sky Blue FC and all on Wednesdays. The 582 announced for the April 30 match between Seattle and Sky Blue is the NWSL’s nadir to this point.
    • Things are down in the amateur W-League as well, with a 347 average (with 13 data points missing) through last night’s games. Only Washington (with a doubleheader crowd of 4,598 for its home opener) is averaging over 1,000 a game. In fact, there have only been three four-digit crowds in the league this season (the others coming to see the Colorado Pride and Atlanta Silverbacks). The W-League used to do much better than this, but it appears as though very few teams attempt to actually market themselves as viable soccer clubs anymore.

    Taking Attendance 6/24/2014: Amateur Hour

    Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

    While the world’s greatest players are on the big stage at the FIFA World CupTM, future stars are plying their trade in the Premier Development League. Here’s our first look at attendance numbers for this league, which operates under the United Soccer Leagues umbrella. (All numbers are through last night’s game. Additions and corrections are always welcome.)

    Team G Total Avg.
    Fresno Fuego 6 13,742 2,290
    Carolina Dynamo 6 11,056 1,843
    Austin Aztex 3 5,113 1,704
    Ventura County Fusion 4 6,035 1,509
    Portland Timbers U-23s 3 4,175 1,392
    BYU Cougars 4 5,504 1,376
    Victoria Highlanders FC 4 5,094 1,274
    FC Tucson 5 5,307 1,061
    Midland/Odessa Sockers FC 6 5,869 978
    Albuquerque Sol F.C. 5 4,098 820
    Western Mass Pioneers 4 2,772 693
    Mississippi Brilla 4 2,732 683
    Long Island Rough Riders 6 4,077 680
    Michigan Bucks 4 2,538 635
    Forest City London 5 3,116 623
    Thunder Bay Chill 6 3,691 615
    Laredo Heat 4 2,369 592
    Ocala Stampede 3 1,579 526
    Sounders FC U23 5 2,353 471
    Lane United FC 5 2,317 463
    Kitsap Pumas 6 2,756 459
    Chicago Inferno 2 749 375
    Las Vegas Mobsters 3 1,125 375
    Reading United AC 4 1,440 360
    SW Florida Adrenaline 1 321 321
    Toronto Lynx 3 950 317
    F.A. Euro 1 300 300
    Vermont Voltage 3 900 300
    San Jose Earthquakes 2 585 293
    St. Louis Lions 4 1,082 271
    Baltimore Bohemians 4 1,068 267
    Panama City Beach Pirates 3 758 253
    CFC Azul 4 1,000 250
    GPS Portland Phoenix 1 250 250
    Northern Virginia Royals 3 736 245
    Cincinnati Dutch Lions 4 948 237
    Real Boston Rams 4 904 226
    LA Misioneros FC 3 600 200
    Southern California Seahorses 2 400 200
    Real Colorado Foxes 3 570 190
    WSA Winnipeg 4 710 178
    River City Rovers 1 175 175
    Southern West Virginia King’s Warriors 3 490 163
    Springfield Demize 3 464 155
    Seacoast United Phantoms 5 750 150
    Jersey Express 4 575 144
    West Virginia Chaos 6 830 138
    Houston Dutch Lions 3 400 133
    Puget Sound Gunners FC 3 400 133
    Montreal Impact U23 3 350 117
    Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 4 436 109
    NJ LUSO Parma 5 500 100
    Pittsburgh Riverhounds U23 3 300 100
    Floridians F.C. 2 197 99
    IMG Academy Bradenton 5 490 98
    Washington Crossfire 4 320 80
    Westchester Flames 5 400 80
    Chicago Fire U-23 3 210 70
    OC Pateadores Blues 5 245 49
    Des Moines Menace 0 0 0
    K-W United FC 0 0 0
    Ocean City Nor’easters 0 0 0
    Orlando City U23 0 0 0
    SC United Bantams 0 0 0
    PDL TOTAL 223 119,221 535

    NOTES:

    • Every team has played at least one home game, but a handful of clubs (including perennial attendance leader or contender Des Moines) have not released any attendance figures for their home games to this point. Some of the missing 39 data points (to date) will eventually turn up, but some never will. It’s the nature of the beast.
    • Fresno (whose tickets are all free to fans through a sponsorship buy) leads the usual suspects at the top of the charts, though they’re down about 500 a game from last year’s final average. Austin, which recently announced a move to USL Pro for 2015, is up slightly from their 2013 average. Victoria and Western Mass are well off last year’s numbers.
    • Eleven clubs averaged more than 1,000 fans per game in 2013, and eight are there right now (with Des Moines probable). But there is still a third or so of the league that can barely get to 200 a game.
    • The Chicago Fire U-23 actually announced an attendance of 16 – sixteen- for their June 16 match against Toronto. The season high to this point is the 3,627 Fresno pulled for a match against San Jose on May 23.
    • As for new clubs, Albuquerque (820 per game) and Lane United (463) lead a struggling lot. Expansion teams in Las Vegas (375) and Cincinnati (237) and developmental teams for San Jose (293), Montreal (117) and Pittsburgh (100) are having varying degrees of success.
    • The current league average (535, with some data points missing) is right in line with the historical average.

    Happy Nye Lavalle Day!

    Sunday, June 15th, 2014

    Nye Lavalle

    (Courtesy New York Times.)


    With the 2014 FIFA World Cup underway and the United States team set to play Ghana in its opening match on Monday, let us take a moment to recognize a momentous anniversary.

    Twenty years ago today – June 15, 1994, a story on the front page of the sports section of the Philadelphia Inquirer quoted sports marketing analyst Nye Lavalle, who was not exactly bullish on the long-term prospects of the new professional soccer league that was due to start up in the aftermath of the 1994 World Cup.

    “There is no chance it will survive. Absolutely no chance whatsoever.”

    Well, here we are, twenty years later. Major League Soccer now has 19 teams (a 20th, New York City FC and 21st, Orlando City SC, begin play in 2015) and is on its way to 24. Seventeen of the 21 either already play or will soon play in stadiums build primarily for soccer. It has a new television contract that pays it more than ever. Attendance now surpasses the six million mark annually and will continue to rise. Its stature and place in the world game is also rising.

    How do you like that prediction now?

    To be fair, the game’s prospects on these shores could not have been considered promising in 1994, given the death nine years prior of the last, best attempt at a national league, the US team’s long absence from the World Cup, the dearth of soccer on television and in the American sporting consciousness and skepticism over USA ’94. But to not just say “It’s unlikely to work, based on history, among other things” would have been one thing. To say that not only wouldn’t it survive, but that there was absolutely no chance whatsoever it would survive…well, that is the type of Shermanesque statement you get called on by people like me after the fact when it turns out you were as wrong as you were vehement.

    Lavalle – whose other pronouncements and predictions included “(Baseball) has peaked and now it’s on a decline (1994),” “Baseball is not a TV sport and never will be (1994),” “The next few years are going to bring about the biggest falling out of the sports industry in history, something not unlike the deregulation of the airlines (1992),” and “There aren’t that many people interested in hockey (2004) – did foresee the mortgage crisis long before it nearly wrecked our economy. But his prediction about the future of Major League Soccer was completely and utterly wrong.

    He wasn’t the only one making such predictions, just the most vehement and the one I’ve chosen as the poster boy for the skeptics. Here’s a sampling of the sentiments expressed by some media mavens in the run-up to MLS’ launch in 1996:

    “No matter how many American soccer converts were made (by the 1994 World Cup), no matter how many kids were enticed to run off with the circus someday, no matter how much cash the World Cup pumped into the nine host cities, the idea of major-league soccer in this country simply won’t fly anytime soon.”
    Steve Wilstein, Associated Press, July 18, 1994

    “There’s a better chance of a national health plan being passed by Congress than of a major pro (soccer) league in America.”
    Art Spander, San Francisco Examiner, June 5, 1994

    “Our national team is spread out among 10 localities and charged with making us like the game. This would have been like taking the 1980 US Olympic hockey team and starting a whole new league by placing its members around the country. And the ice hockey team did, incidentally, win a gold medal, as well as whip the Red Army. Chances of that working would seem to be better than this.”
    Bernie Linciome, Chicago Tribune, April 8, 1996

    “The World Cup, should no one get killed, is a fabulous event. Enjoy it. And enjoy the next one. And if, in between, you patronize any and all pro soccer leagues that begin here, enjoy them too. They’ll be gone faster than the girl over there with the hula hoop.”
    Phil Mushnick, New York Post, June 15, 1994

    All wrong. (Spander gets bonus points because Congress actually did pass a national health plan.)

    We’ve beaten the odds, boys and girls. The days where skeptics could say “It’s never going to work,” and, later, “It will surely fold soon” are over. Major League Soccer isn’t going away, and is only going to continue to grow and improve. The naysayers have less and less to naysay with each passing day.

    Lavalle made his prediction about MLS prior to the actual start of the 1994 World Cup; a month later, he gave at least grudging kudos to the tournament itself, but still didn’t like MLS’ long-term prospects when quoted in the New York Times on July 19, 1994:

    “For World Cup soccer worldwide, the World Cup gets a grade A; for staging of the World Cup in America, it gets a grade A. But for the future of soccer in America, the grade is incomplete. If you want a prediction, it seems like the term paper will be turned in and it will get a failing grade.”

    The papers are all turned in. The assignments are done. We’ve passed.

    Happy Nye Lavalle Day, everybody.