A lot has been made recently about attendance at PAETEC Park and at the newer MLS stadiums such as Toyota Park (home of the Chicago Fire) and Pizza Hut Park (home of FC Dallas). But this past week there was some very interesting attendance numbers that were generated.
Let's start at home where the Rhinos outdrew 3 of the 4 MLS league matches this past weekend. On Friday night, the Rhinos had two big reasons for fans to come out to PAETEC Park. First, they were taking on their arch rivals, the first place Montreal Impact. Add in that it was Doug Miller Night as the team formally retired Doug's #19 and everyone was hoping for a big crowd. Well, the 11,069 fans that came out to see the game was a larger crowd than those that came out to see 3 of the 4 MLS matches on Saturday. Only 9145 fans came out in Kansas City to watch the Wizards take on the Columbus Crew. In Colorado, only 10,820 fans watched Landon Donovan and the LA Galaxy take on the Rapids. And in Houston, 10,964 fans came out for the Texas tussle between the Dynamo and FC Dallas. The one MLS league game that outdrew the Rhinos was the Chivas USA-Chicago Fire game at Toyota Park. The 17,066 fans that came out for that match was the largest crowd at Toyota Park since the full opener drew a sold out crowd of over 20,000 fans.
While some people will point to the fact that a minor league team outdrew 3 of 4 major league teams as a bad sign, there was plenty of good news when it comes to soccer fans coming out in large numbers. It just took some of the best soccer players in the world to draw the really big crowds in the US this past couple of weeks.
Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona both came to the US for some preseason tune up matches and the crowds did not disappoint.
Real Madrid took on MLS' DC United at Seattle's Qwest Field and drew 66,830 fans for the 1-1 draw. Real Madrid then traveled to Utah to take on Real Salt Lake. That match only drew 45,511 fans due to the fact that that is all that Rice-Eccles Stadium could hold.
Barcelona's three game tour not only was covered live by Fox Soccer Channel, but it also had three crowds that all topped the 70,000 mark. The opener in the LA Coliseum versus Mexico's CD Chivas drew 92,650 fans. There were a lot of claims that that may have been the largest crowd in US history ever to witness a club soccer match. Barcelona then took their act to Houston where they took on Club America from Mexico City. That game packed 70,550 fans into Reliant Stadium. Barcelona ended their tour by taking on the New York Red Bulls at Giants Stadium. In the debut of Bruce Arena as the Red Bulls' coach, the match drew 79,002 fans. And the day before around 4500 fans showed up just to watch Barcelona practice.
So, in all the 5 games that Real Madrid and Barcelona played in the US drew 354,543 fans or over 70,000 fans per game.
If that doesn't show that there is a huge base of soccer fans in the US, then I don't know what does.
Will there be any last minute fireworks in Utah?
I wonder if Dave Checketts' head will explode if there is another unforeseen turn of events when the Salt Lake County council votes on the latest Real Salt Lake stadium deal?
For entertainment sake, I'd like to see that happen. But, for the good of MLS, I hope this deal happens.
First they get a stadium deal done and now they might get DMB?
It is still way too early to pencil US international midfielder DeMarcus Beasley into the Real Salt Lake starting lineup, but this is exciting news for the team and MLS.
Beyond monetary issues, Real Salt Lake would also have to figure out a way to move from 4th in MLS' allocation pecking order to first (a spot currently held by the KC Wizards) without having a whole heck of a lot to offer.
But, if the money issues get worked out and Beasley demands on going only to Real Salt Lake, you know that MLS will figure out a way to get the deal done.
Revs could be losing key pieces to the puzzle
Clint Dempsey has made it very obvious that he's looking across the pond for his next employer after his coming out party at the World Cup.
But, Pat Noonan, whose contract with MLS expires after this season, and Taylor Twellman are both looking longingly towards Europe as well. Twellman and Dempsey both are under contract with MLS until December 2007, so MLS would be in line to pick up a nice transfer fee should a European club come calling for either one of the Revs marquee talents.
But, the Noonan situation is a little bit more interesting as MLS would appear to need to make something happen quickly or else they might just lose Noonan to Europe on a free transfer after his contract is up in December.
No matter which way you slice it, the Revs look to have a sizable retooling job ahead of them over the next couple of years when these three key contributors take the next step in their pro careers.
DC United making another player move
Midfielder Matias Donnet appears to be the latest Argentine to join DC United. United already has two Argentines in midfielder Christian Gomez and defender Facundo Erpen. United also had another Argentine in forward Lucio Filomeno. However, Filomeno was released in June when things weren't working out between the club and the player.
Donnet joins MLS from Argentine powerhouse Boca Juniors where he played in the right outside midfield. DC has been using a variety of multidimensional midfielders in that spot this season with players such as Josh Gros and Ben Olsen seeing time out on the right wing. It will be interesting to see how Peter Nowak works Donnet into the squad upon his arrival. It is expected to take two to three weeks for his work permit to get issued and for the move to be finalized.
It took a while, but Sarachan wins the battle of Rochester natives
Thanks to some inclement weather a couple of weeks ago, it took a while for the KC Wizards and Chicago Fire to actually play their US Open Cup fourth round match that featured two teams led by coaches from the Rochester area.
In the end, Dave Sarachan's Chicago Fire defeated Brian Bliss' KC Wizards 2-0 on Monday night. Chicago got goals from Calen Carr and Andy Herron in the victory. They will move on to face the New England Revolution in the quarterfinals.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the
author, and not necessarily those of the Rochester Rhinos or
SoccerSam.com. Feel free to send any comments or complaints to
firstname.lastname@example.org. James promises to read (but not to respond) to all