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Weak Attendances Mar MLS Cup Opening Weekend

Paul Gardner isn't the only pundit who wasn't impressed by the opening weekend of the Major League Soccer Playoffs. Grahame L. Jones, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, writes: "Major League Soccer received the clearest of possible signals over the weekend that its playoff format needs rethinking as a total of only 38,133 fans turned out to see the four first-round matches in Southern California, Chicago, New Jersey and Denver." Of the four stadiums, Carson's Home Depot Center near Long Beach, Calif., attracted the largest crowd, as 15,110 watched Chivas USA beat the Houston Dynamo, 2-1. At Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill., the other soccer-specific stadium that featured over the weekend, just 10,217 fans showed up to watch the Chicago Fire beat the New England Revs 1-0. The story was even worse at the 80,000 capacity Giants Stadium, where 8,630 watched the New York Red Bulls lose, 1-0, to D.C. United. Finally, Jones points out that "a mere 4,176" watched the Colorado Rapids lose, 2-1, to FC Dallas, in what could be the last game at Invesco Field in Denver. MLS has made a big deal about soccer-specific stadiums being key to the growth of the league, and new stadiums are being planned both in New Jersey and outside of Denver. But will it really make a difference if these teams can't manage to attract 15,000 fans between them for a playoff game?

Read the whole story at Los Angeles Times »

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