MLS attendance update: Looking better, but...

Attendance for Sounders' games at Qwest Field is up more than 18 percent over last year's pace, leading a league-wide attendance bump of 13.6 percent over last year. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Last week, I wrote a piece that generally focused on Week 1 attendance, but more specifically highlighted the struggles of Hunts Sports-owned clubs, Columbus and Dallas FC.

As I noted, Week 1 MLS attendance was up a tick, but down dramatically in Dallas, and to a lesser degree in Columbus, despite playing rivals in generally good conditions.

If their struggles seemed to stand out last week, it was even worse after Week 2, in which attendance is up even more dramatically as compared to last season than was Week 1.

Obviously, we're talking about extremely small sample sizes here and we shouldn't try to draw too much from it, but the fact remains that after two weeks and 13 home dates, MLS clubs are averaging more than 19,000 fans per season. With so few games, those numbers are enormously aided by our average of 36,153 (down slightly from a week ago) and the opening weekend debut of Red Bull Arena.

Still, there were some legitimately positive signs in other locales.

  • DC United drew 20,644, which is a nearly 30 percent increase over their 2009 home opener.
  • The Galaxy, playing against in-town rival Chivas USA, drew 19,805 and are are up more than 18 percent over their two-game average from last year.
  • Houston had 18,197 for their home opener, a 13 percent increase over last year's.

The only down note was Colorado, which played in front of just 11,641, a 2 percent decline from last season's opener. I don't think that's much cause for worry, though.

There are still five teams that have yet to make their home debuts, including this week's opponent, Real Salt Lake.

Of those five, I think we can expect reasonably strong numbers from Salt Lake, Philadelphia and Toronto, which certainly provides the potential for a third straight week of increased average attendance. (I have no idea what to expect from New England and Chicago.) 

All of this is just another way of saying MLS really needs to get a handle on what's happening in Dallas, and to a much lesser degree in Columbus. Dallas will play another home game this week, and it will be interesting to see what kind of numbers they draw. Dallas saw a huge decline in attendance from their first to second home game last year, although it's hard to imagine much fall from last week's 8,016.

I don't intend to make this a weekly standard (unless people really want to see it), but this site appears to be doing a bang up job of following league-wide attendance.

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