I love this moment, where a(n alleged) Cosmos fan shows he needs to brush up on current events. (H/T to Nico, originally happened here.)
Posts Tagged ‘NASL’
I have an article published in this month’s issue of Stadium Journey magazine (though I didn’t write about stadiums, oddly enough). Thanks to a recommendation from my man Josh Hakala (whose excellent TheCup.us you should visit, especially this time of year), they asked me to write about the pros and cons of promotion and relegation (a topic I may have mentioned before) for their all-soccer issue.
I didn’t write it as prole bait, but I figure it’s going to end up drawing out the batshit crazy brigade. As you know (unless you’re one of the batshit crazy brigade), I’m not personally opposed to the concept – I just don’t think it’s realistic in America now, and maybe not ever. But despite presenting what I think is a balanced look at the advantages and drawbacks of such a system, I fear the “hostile media effect” is going to be in play here and the proles are going to be sure my bias is showing through. Which ( a ) would be nothing new and ( b ) comes with the territory, I guess.
But if they read it, it probably means they bought it, so that’s good. The magazine itself is a good read for anyone who likes to visit stadiums and have sports experiences around the country, so I encourage you to visit them and buy the print or electronic versions of the May issue.
Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh is one-third of a trio of exciting developments for American soccer that launch this weekend. Two of the three are examples of the sport putting down roots, while the other tries to prove that something can grow on land that’s produced a thin harvest in two previous tries.
The Pittsburgh Riverhounds of USL Pro play their first game at their new, 3,500-seat stadium on the river tomorrow night against Harrisburg. With outstanding views of the city behind it, Highmark Stadium should provide one of the best spectator experiences in the third division (and probably better than some clubs above them provide). The Riverhounds have been around (off and on) since 1999, but will get a good relaunch from a sellout crowd and hope to finally become a part of Pittsburgh’s sporting consciousness.
Meanwhile, the San Antonio Scorpions’ Toyota Field opens tomorrow night when the Tampa Bay Rowdies come to the Alamo City. The 8,000-seat stadium is a little spartan, but has a grass field and looks like a tremendous home for the 2012 NASL attendance-leading Scorpions.
Finally, the third (and maybe final) attempt at a pro women’s soccer league in this country kicks off this weekend as the National Women’s Soccer League stages four games. FC Kansas City hosts Portland Saturday night in the first match in league history, while three other games are Sunday. In Seattle, where a bevy of US Women’s National Teamers helped the Seattle Sounders Women lead the W-League in attendance last summer, the NWSL entry, the Reign, hasn’t seen an outpouring of support just yet.
On the business side, owner Bill Predmore admitted Thursday that he is “disappointed” with season-ticket sales so far, and corporate sponsorships haven’t met expectations.
Elsewhere, the team’s general manager, Amy Carnell, resigned Monday for personal reasons.
“Probably somewhat naively, I thought it was going to be less difficult than it’s proven to be,” Predmore said. “I think I just underestimated the task at hand and really how short a period four months really is.”
While a new business model – where the soccer federations of the US, Canada and Mexico pay the salaries of star players – relieves some of the expense pressure from teams in this new league, the revenue side is still going to be the key. If the NWSL can’t do better at the gate than the WUSA and WPS did, it may find itself in similar straits before long.
Maybe Yahoo! Answers wasn’t the very best place to ask this question.
I was pleasantly surprised to see this photo as one in a slideshow attached to this Indianapolis Star story about the return of pro soccer to Central Indiana today.
(Yep, that’s me, in early 1998, pointing out the place on the jerseys of Mark Phillips and Steve Weiger where we hoped to put a sponsor logo that never panned out. Man, I was skinny then.)
Nine years after the Indiana Blast played its final game (in the PDL, after five years in the then-A-League and two before that in the D3 Pro League), someone’s going to give pro soccer in Indianapolis another shot. Hopefully my man Peter Wilt, who’s been heading up the feasibility study on this thing, will get to run the show. If he does, it has a much better chance of success than the Blast did, if for no other reason than Peter understands that tickets don’t just sell themselves.
A lot has changed, both in Indianapolis and American soccer, since I left the Blast in July 2000. (The reporter who wrote this particular story isn’t one of them – David Woods covered us a bit back in the day.) The viability of professional soccer – even at lower levels – is much less of a crapshoot than it was then. Some franchises have shown they can get fans excited for a local team, even if it doesn’t play at the highest level. And seemingly every lower-level team can play the “We hope to be in MLS one day” card – as this group is apparently doing, too.
I could write a book (which no one would read) about everything we did wrong with the Blast. I’ve told Peter many of these things (not that he needed my advice to avoid them, many of them were basic), and I figure they will be much more professionally-run and successful than we were (assuming they’re better funded than we were, which they’d almost have to be).
Long-term, everything hinges on them finding a good place to play, I feel. Kuntz Stadium (our old haunt) was barely adequate in 1999, and the other potential temporary venues have their issues. If they have as much trouble as we had acquiring land and funding for a soccer-specific stadium, they’ll be added to the (short, but distinguished) list that includes the Blast, the Twisters and the Daredevils, all of whom came and went in fairly short order. (Note: this unscientific poll on the Indianapolis Business Journal‘s site shows some support, but an alarming percentage of people who don’t see themselves going to games.)
So good luck, PW. I’m pulling for you.
Just, please, please, please, don’t call the team “Racing Indianapolis.” I beg of you.
With the end of the second official season of the new North American Soccer League, we can (almost) close the book on the Division II and Division III attendance figures for the 2012 campaign. Here are the unofficial numbers as I have them*:
|USL PRO TOTAL||128||343,782||2,686||1,623||8,932||134|
As you can no doubt see, I’m missing a few numbers from USL Pro. A handful of games didn’t have reported attendance figures. It happens.
A few other notes:
- San Antonio became only the fourth lower-level team to average 9,000 or more for a season (the others were Rochester, Montreal and Portland). The Scorpions did tail off a bit after the initial burst, as they averaged 8,541 for the second half of their home schedule after averaging 9,810 for the first half. Still, a tremendous showing.
- Even with San Antonio’s numbers coming in about 20% under those of Montreal (whose slot they took in the league this year), NASL attendance was steady, just under one percent higher than a year ago. Minnesota (helped largely by a big crowd for their Metrodome opener) was up 67%, with Atlanta up 57%. Carolina’s comeback from the dead continued as they were up 16% from a year ago, and drew a club-record (for a league match) 7,310 for their home finale. Tampa Bay was up just under 4%. Puerto Rico’s sixth consecutive year of average attendance decline was largely (but not exclusively) caused by its temporary home while Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium was renovated, but they didn’t draw that well after moving back home (1,893 for four games). And Edmonton, which sorely needs an adequate facility, was off 18% from last year’s (already low) numbers.
- Coming off a stellar freshman campaign, Orlando City bettered its 2011 numbers by some 22%, breaking its own DIII record by averaging 6,604 per game. Rochester was also up 22% (or so they say), while Richmond was up 20%. Los Angeles was a big gainer as well (up 45% with a game missing), but going up to 666 a game…well, I’m sorry, that’s not nearly enough. I’d be surprised to see the Blues return, as I would to see Antigua return now that they’re out of World Cup qualifying and their government has no real impetus to continue to support them.
- USL Pro finished at 2,686 for an average (give or take…the four missing games surely would bring that average down) that is a Division III all-time high, better last year’s 2,261. Even if you zero out all four data points I don’t have, it’s still 2,604.
- Saturdays were the best days for attendance for both leagues, with the NASL getting 4,030 a game and USL Pro 3,364.
- Without their bellwether teams (San Antonio and Orlando, respectively), the NASL averaged 3,038 per game, USL Pro 2,280.
This is just about the last thing I’m going to have to say about soccer for a while. The game and I have decided to take a break (well, it’s been telling me to get out for a while now, I’m finally listening). So I wouldn’t expect to read much more from me on topics like this one for a while, if ever again.
*The NASL’s numbers disagree with mine slightly on Ft. Lauderdale and Edmonton. Anybody who wants to point out the discrepancies, please do so. I like being thorough. (EDIT: We’ve found the Ft. Lauderdale problem, but we’re still off a bit on Edmonton.)
Just because people have asked and not because it’s particularly revealing or surprising, here are the 149 teams in MLS, the NASL, USL Pro, the PSL, WPSL Elite and the W-League ranked by average announced attendance. Before you ask, many lower teams don’t always report all of their numbers, so there are many missing figures in the WPSL-E, the PDL and W-League. And, no, I don’t get NPSL figures because they really don’t make an effort to put those numbers out there and I’m not inclined to go searching for attendance figures for a league that let the Phoenix Monsoon in. Please to enjoy:
I just noticed this seems to be the only stuff I post here anymore. Sorry about that. I really don’t have much to say that’s over 140 characters most of the time anymore.
Anyway, here are the latest attendance figures for the various leagues, with only a few quick notes because I’m otherwise engaged:
|THE MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER||G||Total||Average|
|Los Angeles Galaxy||8||176,305||22,038|
|Real Salt Lake||7||129,403||18,486|
|New York Red Bulls||6||94,939||15,823|
|New England Revolution||7||82,730||11,819|
|San Jose Earthquakes||7||81,677||11,668|
|NORTH AMERICAN SOCCER LEAGUE||G||Total||Average|
|San Antonio Scorpions||6||56,757||9,460|
|Minnesota Stars FC||4||15,461||3,865|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||7||21,491||3,070|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||5||15,301||3,060|
|Puerto Rico Islanders||7||7,812||1,116|
|Harrisburg City Islanders||6||7,683||1,281|
|Antigua Barracuda FC||6||6,400||1,067|
|Los Angeles Blues||6||5,382||897|
|Dayton Dutch Lions||4||3,465||866|
|USL PRO TOTAL||61||168,657||2,765|
|PREMIER DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE||G||Total||Average|
|Portland Timbers U-23s||5||18,314||3,663|
|Des Moines Menace||5||17,963||3,593|
|West Texas Sockers||5||6,293||1,259|
|Ventura County Fusion||5||5,687||1,137|
|Victoria Highlanders FC||5||4,785||957|
|Western Mass Pioneers||4||3,613||903|
|Forest City London||2||1,550||775|
|Palmetto FC Bantams||5||3,287||657|
|Panama City Beach Pirates||2||1,115||558|
|Thunder Bay Chill||4||2,155||539|
|Sounders FC U23||5||2,455||491|
|Long Island Rough Riders||4||1,628||407|
|Ocean City Nor’easters||3||1,154||385|
|El Paso Patriots||5||1,908||382|
|Orlando City U23||3||1,083||361|
|St. Louis Lions||4||1,332||333|
|Virginia Beach Piranhas||4||1,319||330|
|Seacoast United Phantoms||4||1,185||296|
|Reading United AC||4||1,081||270|
|Real Colorado Foxes||4||1,050||263|
|GPS Portland Phoenix||6||1,451||242|
|Northern Virginia Royals||6||1,354||226|
|FC Jax Destroyers||4||850||213|
|Kansas City Brass||1||213||213|
|River City Rovers||4||820||205|
|VSI Tampa Flames||4||791||198|
|Southern California Seahorses||5||980||196|
|Southern West Virginia King’s Warriors||4||765||191|
|West Virginia Chaos||5||914||183|
|LA Misioneros FC||3||454||151|
|Hamilton FC Rage||2||300||150|
|Texas Dutch Lions||1||150||150|
|North Sound SeaWolves FC||3||441||147|
|Orange County Blue Star||6||697||116|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23||5||505||101|
|IMG Bradenton Academics||7||665||95|
|Central Jersey Spartans||3||245||82|
|Fraser Valley Mariners FC||4||310||78|
|New Jersey Rangers FC||3||205||68|
|Western New York Flash||2||2,057||1,029|
|New England Mutiny||1||937||937|
|ASA Chesapeake Charge||1||400||400|
|Seattle Sounders Women||3||13,500||4,500|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC||4||4,505||1,126|
|Santa Clarita Blue Heat||2||1,233||617|
|DC United Women||2||1,085||543|
|Charlotte Lady Eagles||4||2,109||527|
|Northern Virginia Majestics||2||1,019||510|
|Quebec City Amiral||3||1,359||453|
|New Jersey Wildcats||3||1,331||444|
|Virginia Beach Piranhas||4||1,670||418|
|Dayton Dutch Lions||2||731||366|
|Colorado Rapids Women||2||700||350|
|Long Island Rough Riders||3||971||324|
|Central SC Cobras||2||505||253|
|North Jersey Valkyries||2||412||206|
|FC Jax Destroyers||3||591||197|
|Los Angeles Strikers||3||570||190|
|New York Magic||2||301||151|
|Hamilton FC Rage||3||382||127|
|Toronto Lady Lynx||1||75||75|
|VSI Tampa Flames||3||195||65|
|New Jersey Rangers||4||190||48|
- MLS is on pace right now to draw slightly more than six million fans, but that’s if everybody holds their current averages and Montreal can’t now that they’ve moved back into Saputo Stadium.
- Speaking of which, how do you get 60,000 for a game in Olympic Stadium and yet not sell out the first game back at Saputo? The Impact only drew 17,112 for Saputo’s rebirth after averaging 36,498 (with a previous low of 19,223) for five games at the Big O.
- The Minnesota Stars had a franchise-high crowd of 2,908, the biggest NSC Stadium league attendance since
the old Thunder drew 3,773 to a USL First Division match on September 20, 2009 against Charlestonlast July 22, when Montreal was in town and they drew 3,071 (thanks, ERic).
- Atlanta’s crowd of 6,000 against Carolina Saturday was also a club record, but tickets were free as part of
We’ll Make It Up To YouFan Appreciation Night.
- Orlando drew 6,148 Sunday night and continue to lead USL Pro at just under 7k a night. On the other side of the coin, the LA Blues drew 276 and 239 for two matches against Dayton this weekend. The Blues, I fear, are not long for this world.
- I have seven – seven – attendance figures from the 31 matches played in the WPSL Elite League. It is not, apparently, a big concern for them.
- Seattle Sounders Women continue to lead the W-League after another sellout crowd of 4,500 at Starfire yesterday against the LA Strikers. Remarkable that Seattle has just now discovered a team that averaged just over 500 people a game last year and for most of the last several years, and that they’re still turning out after the US Women’s National Team stars are away.
- PDL figures are a lot easier to come by than WPSL ones, but I’m still missing about 15 percent of the games from the amateur league. Portland – on the basis of two 8k+ crowds at JELD-WEN, still leads the league, but its margin over Des Moines shrank after the Timbers U23s drew 505 to Sherwood High School yesterday. (Portland moves its U23 games around the area to venues of differing sizes.) And thanks to the fine folks at the Austin Aztex, who directed me to a figure I didn’t have. Austin – which lost the original Aztex to Orlando after 2010 – is doing well in the PDL.
Here are the latest attendance figures for all the various leagues in the US and Canada, through games of Sunday, June 3. I’m missing a couple of USL Pro attendance figures (both in Dayton), a couple W-League figures, several in WPSL Elite (both leagues have been a bit lax in other areas lately) and many in the PDL. But based on what I have, this is how the league attendance figures look as of today.
|The Major League Soccer||G||Total||Average||Median||High||Low|
|North American Soccer League||G||Total||Average||Median||High||Low|
|USL PRO TOTAL||49||136,359||2,783||1,540||8,421||200|
|Sounders FC U23||2||1,037||519||519||712||325|
|Panama City Beach||1||517||517||517||517||517|
|River City Rovers||1||325||325||325||325||325|
|Western New York||1||1,304||1,304||1,304||1,304||1,304|
- Portland’s PDL team broke the league record with a school-day crowd of 8,174 for their match Friday morning against Vancouver. I couldn’t tell you what the old record was, and neither can USL, probably, so just go with it for now.
- MLS only had one match this past weekend while largely standing down for an official FIFA Match Day, but the league is on pace to draw more than six million this year, and projects roughly to a final average of 18,713 (which would be a record). Montreal’s average will go down a bit when they move into Saputo Stadium. More than half the league (10 clubs) are averaging more than 18,000 a game, which is quite the feather in their cap.
- They had to bring in temporary seating in Edmonton as the NASL club drew 2,521 against Atlanta yesterday. It was a season high for the Eddies, near their franchise record (set in the opener last year) and the first time they’d been over 2k for a league match since last June 26. Overall, they’re down 25% in average over the same number of home games as a year ago, but hope for increased attendance as they bring in more seating to their new stadium.
- Elsewhere in the NASL, Atlanta and Carolina are way up (46% and 59%, respectively) and the RailHawks hope to get a bounce from their Open Cup run. Puerto Rico is down 48% because of their temporary venue. Ft. Lauderdale is down 25% amid talk that their advertising and marketing budget has been slashed. And Tampa Bay – which finally got the historic “Rowdies” name back – has a nearly identical average after five home games this year as last. So much for nostalgia.
- San Antonio reversed a slide that had seen each of their home games draw fewer people than the last when they drew 8,639 for their game Saturday against Minnesota. After five home matches, the Scorpions are averaging just under 10,000, which has only been done at the D2 level by Rochester, Portland and Montreal.
- While Orlando and Rochester continue to lead USL Pro, the best story is probably in Wilmington, where the Hammerheads are third in the league at 4,119. Harrisburg continues to be bedeviled by bad weather, as their game against Richmond Friday was stopped after 84 minutes because of lightning and drew just 355.
- Looks like we’re only going to get WPSL Elite numbers regularly out of Boston. The other clubs don’t seem to think it’s important to count people (or if they count them, they don’t announce them). But, to no one’s surprise, I think we can safely say WPSL Elite, without the ability to market on a league level and with its clubs having limited budgets to market locally, will not be making anyone forget WPS.
- Seattle Sounders Women drew 4,500 for their official home opener against Colorado last Thursday (after packing Starfire for a series of exhibitions against local colleges). They weren’t a big draw on the road a day later in Victoria (no national team players made the trip) as just 502 fans went to their game against the Highlanders. We’ll see what happens with the Sounders Women as Hope Solo and company leave for the Olympics.
- Besides Portland’s U23 squad, PDL teams doing well at the gate include Carolina Dynamo, Des Moines, Fresno and West Texas, who are all over 1,000 a game. The league itself is at 629 (with several games missing), ahead of the historical average of just over 500.
The third round of the 2012 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup saw eight of the 16 participating Major League Soccer teams sent packing by lower-division sides (a record for number, obviously, but not percentage, as half of the field of eight crashed out in 2004′s fourth round). This has led to the usual sturm und drang on the internet, with some fans claiming the results are proof of everything from parity to the necessity of promotion and relegation to the existence of Bigfoot. What usually happens in these instances is MLS teams that lose get pilloried for not trying or not caring enough to put out a representative team. For many teams – like Chicago, which had four games in 11 days – it’s a matter of prioritizing and making best use of rosters that aren’t as robust as in other leagues around the world. But I wanted to see how true the shorthand “Those teams that played more regular players were successful, and those that didn’t, weren’t” really was.
I first looked at league playing time by each of the 16 MLS teams’ first elevens (turns out, yes, there’s a correlation between teams that put a lot of their bench players in the lineup and teams that lost, not a surprise), but then I had an idea: why not total up the salaries of each MLS team’s starting lineups to get a different view of the types of players the teams were putting out there?
Thanks to the MLS Players Union, the salary information is readily available, so it was just a matter of plugging it all in. Turns out there’s a correlation between salaries and success. It’s not perfect, but it’s interesting nonetheless. Of the eight teams that had the most 2012 salary money represented in their first elevens, five won and moved on. Of the eight that were spending the least on their starters, only three were winners.
Here’s the chart of what each of the 16 MLS teams in this year’s Open Cup were spending on base salaries on the 11 players they started in their third round matches:
|New York Red Bulls||$1,535,562.00||$139,596.55||Won|
|Real Salt Lake||$1,083,635.00||$98,512.27||Lost|
|San Jose Earthquakes||$993,212.25||$90,292.02||Won|
|Sporting Kansas City||$959,450.00||$87,222.73||Won|
|Los Angeles Galaxy||$867,200.00||$78,836.36||Lost|
|New England Revolution||$857,675.00||$77,970.45||Tied*|
(We don’t know what the lower division teams’ annual salaries are for comparison, but, rest assured, they’re south of Chicago’s.)
This chart makes Portland’s home loss to Cal FC - an amateur team bankrolled largely by US Soccer legend Eric Wynalda – all the more dramatic and baffling. The Timbers not only had the most expensive player of the round (Kris Boyd, who makes $1.25 million), they spent nearly $800,000 more than the second-place team (New York) and more than Dallas, Columbus and Chicago combined spent on their starters. Seven regulars – those who had played more than 50% of the possible minutes for the Timbers in the league – started for Portland, the highest figure in the league (Philadelphia and Seattle started six each and both won, Los Angeles, New England and Chicago started two among them and all lost).
Again, the correlation isn’t perfect, but Colorado was the only one of the five thriftiest teams that got a result and advanced (New England’s penalty kick defeat at Harrisburg officially counts as a draw). And the Timbers were the only one of the top four most expensive lineups that are out of the competition.
Salt Lake made no secret of being in it to win it, but despite the presence of five regulars and two part-timers, they lost at home to defending NASL champ Minnesota. Houston – which prioritized an important friendly, if there is such a thing, at home tonight against Valencia, fell to expansion NASL side San Antonio. Barring those results, and had Boyd not missed an 80th-minute penalty for Portland, the correlation would have been nearly perfect.
The takeaway? As always, money isn’t everything, but it helps. And when you run out a team of reserves against a hungry lower-division side in a one-off Cup situation, it’s buyer beware.
The full list of annual base salaries of each of the 171 players who started for MLS teams in the third round of the Open Cup is after the jump: