Much Adieu About Nothing

What a difference 7+ months makes.

Real Salt Lake’s (then-) coach, John Ellinger, on December 11, 2006, after his team acquired midfielder Freddy Adu from DC United:

“We know for certain he’s here for the entire 2007 season.”

Real Salt Lake’s (then-) general manager, my man Steve Pastorino, that same day:

“While it’s not absolute, solid-bound certain that he’ll be here, we have some assurances and expectations that he’ll be here for the entire 2007 season, and we have reason to believe he’ll be here in 2008, as well.”

Well, so much for that. MLS has sold the youngster to Portuguese side Benfica, and he’s agreed to contract terms, so he’s outta here, less than two months after his 18th birthday. Most parents would love to get their kid out of the house so soon after they turn 18.

So ends an interesting but ultimately unsatisfying chapter in American soccer history. Adu was a decent young player, but MLS got its money’s worth out of him long before his sell-by date. He’d gone from being The Next Big Thing to A Nice Little Player. Now he’s in Europe, where he’s wanted to be all along.

Good luck, Freddy. Just be careful what you wish for.

Who’s Up, Who’s Down?

The latest MLS attendance figures, ranked by percentage change from the same number of home dates a year ago:

2007
2006
Team G Total Average G Total Average % Diff.
NER 8 117,430 14,679 8 84,914 10,614 38.3%
COL 9 134,330 14,926 9 116,277 12,920 15.5%
LAG 8 180,684 22,586 8 157,896 19,737 14.4%
DCU 8 141,772 17,722 8 134,003 16,750 5.8%
RSL 8 130,338 16,292 8 125,692 15,712 3.7%
CHI 9 126,492 14,055 9 122,646 13,627 3.1%
FCD 7 104,628 14,947 7 107,683 15,383 -2.8%
CLB 10 126,976 12,698 10 130,736 13,074 -2.9%
HOU 10 144,166 14,417 10 158,379 15,838 -9.0%
CDCUSA 7 91,092 13,013 7 105,847 15,121 -13.9%
KCW 10 94,844 9,484 10 112,248 11,225 -15.5%
NYRB 9 103,628 11,514 9 148,089 16,454 -30.0%
TFC 8 160,281 20,035 0 0 0 0.0%
MLS 111 1,656,661 14,925 103 1,504,410 14,606 2.2%
w/o TFC 103 1,496,380 14,528 103 1,504,410 14,606 -0.5%

Thoughts:

  • New England has had a couple of doubleheaders that have skewed their average a bit, but their other crowds have been okay, too.
  • Colorado has the new stadium bounce working for them (they’ll never again have a huge July 4 crowd to skew their numbers).
  • Los Angeles has only announced the one sellout in league play so far (I’m guessing that’ll change), but have only had one crowd under 20,000 this year, whereas they were under 20k for all but their opener and their July 4 match in the first 10 home games of 2006.
  • DC United is DC United.
  • Real Salt Lake is up despite all the drama and the fact that they may be the worst team in Division I soccer since the 1981 Dallas Tornado (who went 5-27). Well done there.
  • Chicago got a good boost from their “Kids’ Night Out” promotion at the last home game, which drew an announced 20k+ on a Thursday night. They’re still underachieving, though, based on what you’d expect that market and that stadium to do (though not necessarily based on what that market has done traditionally).
  • I’m not sure what to make of Dallas. I guess that’s a decent average, and with everything else they have going on there, they should be profitable (or close to it). You’d think SuperLiga would do a bit better there, but it’s the possible appearance of David Beckham that really goosed ticket sales there, not the confirmed presence of two teams from Mexico. Go figure.
  • Columbus is Columbus.
  • Houston’s seeing the honeymoon period wear off a bit, as they had three crowds over 20k in their first four home matches ever, but haven’t done it since (and the big crowd at Reliant last year didn’t factor into these calculations).
  • Chivas has struggled since their opener, despite a bunch of Saturday dates. I don’t know if some fans on the fence switched allegiances because of You Know Who or what.
  • Kansas City’s announced numbers are way down, but I’m told that their revenue is actually up because they’re giving away fewer tickets and haven’t compromised the integrity of their prices this year. I have no idea what they’re going to do for a stadium next year.
  • New York had their Shakira/Wyclef Jean-fueled rebirth opener and a big doubleheader in the 2006 numbers to this point (the others were bad), but their median is actually a bit higher this year (10,732 to 9,573). Still, that’s not good. I’m not one who subscribes to the notion that a league has to have a solid New York franchise to succeed, but I’m not sold on Red Bull’s ability to sell soccer tickets as well as they sell caffeine and sugar.
  • Toronto’s been great – everything they could have hoped for. As you can see, the other 12 teams are basically flat, average-wise, from last year to this year. TFC pushes the whole thing up over 2% (through the end of July last year, MLS’ average was 14,173 and the median was 13,036 – this year they’re 14,925 and 14,173).
  • All standard disclaimers apply about announced attendance versus actual attendance and blah blah blah.

Sorry I haven’t done this more often or gotten my numbers back up. I’ve been busy. Thanks for your patience.

Spaced Out

Me at Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama
And so I’m back….from outer space….

My daughter and I spent the weekend at Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. Good times. If you have ever thought about being an astronaut, or if your kids have, take them. We met some great people and had a lot of fun.

You Only Sing When You’re Writing Run-on Sentences

From the Sunday Herald in Scotland (is it published every day?) on tonight’s MLS All-Star match against Celtic:

Steve Nicol, the long-serving and successful coach of the New England Revolution, will grace the dug-out for the occasion as a reward for his side’s excellent early-season form, and Celtic must be wary if they are not to go the way of Chelsea, who lost in an equivalent All-Star fixture at the same stage last season, or even repeat their own mistakes from last season, when they could only manage a 1-1 draw with Nicol’s New England side during a US Tour which began with a heavy defeat to an Adu-inspired DC United.

That’s one sentence, folks.

This Is Gonna Cost The San Jose Frogs Some Fans

San Jose EarthquakesWell, this is good news. Welcome back, San Jose. Missed ya.

Now, all of you who swore that MLS was dead to you when ‘Quakes 2.0 moved to Houston in late 2005 (especially that Nick Arellano guy who swore that San Jose was too good for MLS) are precluded from attending games next season. Sorry.

Some of you may have trouble figuring out where not to go in the first place, seeing as how the SJ Mercury News reports that the ‘Quakes will use McAfee Coliseum in Oakland for “big” games (i.e. David Beckham games) and “a smaller facility for more routine opponents.” It’s only for two years until they supposedly get a stadium done, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. If it was that simple, someone else would have done it by now.

Remember, Mark Cuban Is Better Than You

Mark Cuban from MSNBC.comThe story from the other day that Mark Cuban has applied to purchase the Cubs could be looked at as good news. The guy’s rich. He wants to win. He is not afraid to spend money in that quest, and he’s very fan-friendly.

But then Mark went and ruined it with this:

Cuban’s efforts to enter the already crowded field to purchase the team is being met with some speculation. The Chicago Tribune summed up Cuban’s efforts to buy the team in its Thursday edition as follows: “And while Internet billionaire Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has expressed interest, most observers think Major League Baseball would balk at a potential owner as unpredictable and outspoken as Cuban.”

When e-mailed by the Tribune to respond to the sentence, Cuban replied via e-mail: “I never comment on ‘most observers’ reports. It’s like responding to a random blog post, a waste of time.”

Really, Mark? Really? You’d never respond to a random blog post, because it would be a waste of time, right?

I admire Cuban’s entrepreneurial spirit and his passion for life and for whatever he does. I love that he’s a maverick.

But having billions of dollars doesn’t make you better than us, Mark. You’re just another guy in a t-shirt who spends too much time online and really does care what people think of him. Just own up to it.