As cool as it would have been, there won't be nearly this many fans in attendance when the Seattle Sounders play Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
While well short of embarrassing, it's looking more and more like the crowd for the March 7 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal -- easily one of the five most important matches the Sounders have played at home -- will be a bit underwhelming in size. As of Tuesday morning, the Seattle Sounders have sold about 16,500 tickets for their match against Santos Laguna, according to team officials (they also said about 32,000 season tickets have been sold). Even with a strong walkup crowd, it's hard to imagine more than 25,000 will be in attendance.
In most markets, that would be an enormous number and chances are there will be more fans in attendance at this game than many MLS stadiums even hold. But the Sounders have grown accustomed to much bigger crowds and March 7's will likely be nearly 15,000 smaller than the average MLS match at CenturyLink Field this season. Making the number even more stark, is the reality that Toronto FC has already sold about 45,000 tickets for their CCL quarterfinal agains the LA Galaxy on the same day.
There's no reason to pretend that this number is not disappointing. Despite having the whole offseason to market and promote the game, the Sounders' efforts seem to have been focused on people who were already inclined to go the game: ie, season-ticket holders, readers of the Seattle Times sports section. We haven't seen an advertising blitz on TV and there haven't been billboards around town. There are surely economic reasons for this, mainly having to do with the Sounders having to share more of the gate with CONCACAF than they would for a MLS match, but it still would have been nice to see a packed stadium for such an important game.
Of course, there's still time to push this number up. Obviously, lots of tickets are still available (ticket link) and they are really affordable, starting as low as $15. This is a great chance to bring friends, who otherwise might not think to attend a CCL match. They may even witness history.