Seattle Sounders break MLS attendance record, average 44,038 fans per game

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Major League Soccer attendance statistics are in and, once again, the Seattle Sounders are setting records.

For the fifth year running the Sounders set an MLS attendance record by averaging 44,038 fans per game at CenturyLink Field.

For contextual purposes, that’s higher than any team in Major League Baseball, save the Los Angeles Dodgers who averaged 46,216, and more than double the average attendance of the Seattle Mariners.

Comparing that number to the Premier League, Seattle trumps the average attendance of Sunderland A.F.C. by an average of 3,500 fans. The Stadium of Light, which holds 49,000 supporters, recorded an average of 40,544 fans during the 2012-13 season.

The Sounders’ attendance rate was also more than double any other MLS team, with the LA Galaxy’s 21,770 next in line and only three other teams (Portland, Montreal, Vancouver) averaging 20,000 fans or more.

While Seattle’s attendance rate is impressive, the numbers would not be possible but for the NFL-sized capacity of CenturyLink Field. The Link, along with Vancouver’s BC Place (54,320), New England Revolution’s Gillette Stadium (68,756) and D.C. United’s RFK Stadium (47,359), is one of four MLS stadiums that possesses the capability of putting 40,000+ fans into the seats. No other MLS stadium has a capacity above 27,000.

(MORE: Up next for the record-setting Sounders, the Cosmos’ American attendance mark)

For the second year in a row total MLS attendance topped out at 6 million, while the league average took a slight dip (1.1%) from 18,807 in 2012 to 18,594 fans in 2013.

Eleven MLS teams increased their average attendance – Columbus Crew (12%), FC Dallas (8%), New York (6%), New England (6%), Vancouver Whitecaps (3%), Colorado Rapids (2%), Seattle Sounders (2%), Sporting KC (2%), Portland (1%), Real Salt Lake (1%), Toronto FC (.08%) – while eight teams experienced decreases. Notable drops included Montreal, down 10% as the Impact moved from Olympic Stadium to the Stade de Saputo, and LA Galaxy, down 6% following the departure of David Beckham.

It was hardly surprising that the dysfunctional Chivas USA was the team with the most significant decrease in average attendance, plunging 36 percent to 8,366 fans a game. So on behalf of all MLS fans let me just say – muchas gracias, Jorge Vergara.

2013 MLS Attendance:
AVG. TEAM (+/-)
44,038 Seattle (+2%)
21,770 LA Galaxy (-6%)
20,674 Portland (+1%)
20,603 Montreal (-10%)
20,097 Vancouver (+3%)
19,923 Houston (-5%)
19,709 Sporting KC (+2%)
19,461 New York (+6%)
19,218 Real Salt Lake (+1%)
18,131 Toronto FC (+.08%)
17,867 Philadelphia (-4%)
16,080 Columbus (+12%)
15,499 Colorado (+2%)
15,373 FC Dallas (+8%)
15,228 Chicago (-7%)
14,844 New England (+6%)
13,646 D.C. United (-1%)
12,765 San Jose (-4%)
8,366 Chivas USA (-36%)
18,594 LEAGUE (-1.1%)

Highest MLS Attendance:
AVG. TEAM (+/-)
44,038 Seattle (2013)
43,144 Seattle (2012)
38,496 Seattle (2011)
36,173 Seattle (2010)
30,897 Seattle (2009)
28,916 Los Angeles (1996)
26,009 Los Angeles (2008)
24,252 Los Angeles (2007)
24,204 Los Angeles (2005)
23,898 MetroStars (1996)

Lowest MLS Attendance:
AVG. TEAM (+/-)
7,460 Miami (2000)
7,906 Dallas (2003)
8,072 Kansas City (1998)
8,183 Kansas City (1999)
8,336 Chivas USA (2013)
8,689 Miami (1999)
9,058 Kansas City (1997)
9,088 Dallas (2004)
9,112 Kansas City (2000)
9,635 San Jose (2010)

Pique says Neymar “does not know what to do”

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Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has spoken out about the Neymar saga, stating that he and his fellow teammates are trying to lend their comrade a hand as he looks to sort out his future between Barcelona or Paris Saint-Germain.

Speaking ahead of the El Clasico preseason match in Miami, Pique told reporters, “Neymar and I we are very close and I want him to stay and I know the situation. Right now he doesn’t know what to do and we are trying to help him, the ones [on the team] that are more close to him to take the right decision.”

[ MORE: Miazga loaned back to Vitesse ]

Pique was the source of intrigue a five days ago when he posted a Tweet with picture of himself and Neymar and the caption “He stays.” The defender was forced to clarify later saying that his post was only a hopeful prediction of the future rather than a bit of breaking news.

“It depends on what he wants,” Pique said at the pre-match press conference. “He can be in all the clubs in all the world. He can be in Paris, Barcelona, Chelsea or City. All the clubs will want him. It’s about your priorities. What do you want? Do you want more money? Do you want to win titles?”

Then, Pique used his knowledge of American sports to make a comparison, perhaps indirectly referencing Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving. “It’s happening here and it’s happening in the NBA as well. There are some players that are not earning all the money that they deserve to win titles. So sometimes you have to take decisions in life and it’s all about priorities.”

Meanwhile, club captain Iniesta was also asked about Neymar, and he said he just wants a decision soon. “We [as players] just want peace which will benefit everyone – the players, the club and everything surrounding it.”

Former Barcelona defender Carles Puyol also spoke out about Neymar’s situation, telling Spanish publication Marca that he thinks Neymar should make his decision soon to erase the uncertainty.

Cheers! Czech soccer club shapes dugouts like beer cans

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PRAGUE (AP) Czech club Viktoria Plzen has come up with innovative beer-can shaped dugouts that truly represent the city.

The club from Plzen, or Pilsen in English, is known as the Czech capital of beer which gave the world the golden “pilsner” lager in 1842.

This week, it unveiled the new dugouts at its Doosan Arena that look exactly like beer cans.

Plzen manager general Adolf Sadek said it was a joint idea from the club and the nearby Gambrinus brewery.

“Such dugouts are unique and I daresay no other club has them,” Sadek said.

Added Gambrinus brewer Zdenek Polak, “Beer and football belong to each other.”

Players welcomed the novelty, particularly with leather heated seats.

The dugouts will first be tested in Viktoria’s season opener against Dukla Prague on Saturday.

Report: USMNT’s Paul Arriola attracting MLS, European interest

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Several U.S. Men’s National Team players made strong impressions on Bruce Arena and Co. at this month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup — which resulted in a Stars and Stripes title.

[ MORE: NYCFC continues push to top in latest MLS Power Rankings ]

One of those players is Club Tijuana attacker Paul Arriola, whose performance for the USMNT and in Mexico have drawn him significant interest from MLS, Portugal and the Netherlands, according to Goal USA.

The report from Goal states that a “half dozen” sides in MLS have shown interest in Arriola, including Real Salt Lake.

Arriola, 22, has played for Xolos in Liga MX since 2013 after finishing up his academy career with the LA Galaxy.

The Galaxy would hold the rights to Arriola if he were to join MLS due to a Homegrown claim, despite the forward only spending one season with the club’s academy from 2012 to 2013.

Chanot, Wallace among missing for NYCFC’s clash at Toronto

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Patrick Vieira’s men have been flying high as of late, but New York City FC’s difficult schedule continues over the weekend north of the border.

[ MORE: NYCFC continues push towards top of PST MLS Power Rankings ]

NYCFC will take on Toronto FC on Sunday afternoon at BMO Field, but the third-place side in the Eastern Conference will have to do so without six first-team players.

[ MORE: MLS Week 22 preview — Sigi makes LA debut against Sounders ]

A number of injuries will keep out regulars like center back Maxime Chanot, winger Rodney Wallace and Ronald Matarrita, while Miguel Camargo, Khiry Shelton and 16-year-old midfielder/defender James Sands are also sidelined ahead of the Toronto clash.

Wallace and Camargo each sustained injuries during the CONCACAF Gold Cup while on duty with Costa Rica and Panama, respectively.

The two sides settled for a 2-2 draw when they last met on July 19 at Yankee Stadium, but an NYCFC victory could mean a strong push for Vieira and Co. towards the top of the East.

As the table stands, NYCFC currently sits just three points Toronto at the top of the Eastern Conference through 21 matches, while the Chicago Fire are lumped in between the two clubs on 38 points.

Meanwhile, TFC will continue to deal with a couple injuries of its own as Steven Beitashour and Benoit Cheyrou remain out with abdominal and calf ailments, respectively.