NWSL crowd puts exclamation point on Portland market

By Paul Kennedy

If there was any doubt that Portland is the strongest soccer market in the United States, that was put to rest on Sunday afternoon when Thorns FC drew a crowd of 16,479 for its NWSL home opener against Reign FC from up the road in Seattle.

For those who want to argue that their market is stronger, tell us which one of them could draw 16,000-plus for a women's league game?

How big was Sunday's crowd at Jeld-Wen Field? It was bigger than any crowd during the three years of the NWSL's predecessor, WPS, and bigger than eight of the 10 crowds in MLS last week.

WPSL Attendance:
4,569 Washington-Western NY (sellout)
10,524 AVERAGE

MLS ATTENDANCE WATCH. MLS attendance continues to lag from last year's record average. Week 8's 10 games -- including the first midweek game of the season -- averaged only 14,924 fans, dropping the season average to 17,329, down 7.9 percent from last year's season average of 18,807.

Most concerning is the situation at Toronto FC, which regularly filled BMO Field for its first six seasons, but losing has taken a toll at the gate. Attendance slumped for the last four games of the 2012 season -- an average of about 15,400 -- and has not recovered.

After opening indoors at Rogers Centre, TFC has averaged 16,813 for three games at BMO Field. Saturday's game against Houston drew an announced crowd of 15,973.

MLS Attendance:

25,908 LA Galaxy 2 Sporting KC 0
18,029 New York 4 New England 1
15,973 Toronto FC 1 Houston 1
14,900 Real Salt Lake 1 Chivas USA 0
14,339 FC Dallas 2 Vancouver 0
12,813 Chicago 1 Columbus 0
12,349 D.C. United 2 Philadelphia 3
12,338 New York 0 Sporting KC 1
12,063 Colorado 0 Seattle 1
10,525 San Jose 1 Portland 1 (sellout)
14,924 AVERAGE

NASL ATTENDANCE WATCH. After averaging more than 5,000 a game for its first two weeks, the NASL average slipped below 4,000 a game in Week 3. The largest crowd was 4,135 at the 64,152-seat Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome for Minnesota United FC's game against FC Edmonton.

NASL Attendance:
4,135 Minnesota-FC Edmonton
3,761 Carolina-Ft. Lauderdale
3,575 Tampa Bay-Atlanta

USL PRO ATTENDANCE WATCH. Orlando City, USL PRO's best-supported team and an MLS expansion team candidate, drew a regular-season club record crowd of 9,140 for its 3-2 win over the LA Blues Friday night at the Florida Citrus Bowl.

USL PRO Attendance:

9,140 Orlando City-Los Angeles
4,546 Charleston-Barracuda FC
3,213 Wilmington-Barracuda FC
2,270 Richmond-Rochester
423 VSI Tampa Bay FC-Los Angeles
332 Charlotte-Rochester
n/a Dayton-Pittsburgh

AWARDS. FOX Soccer Channel's "BEING: Liverpool" documentary on English club Liverpool was the winner in two categories and received honorable mention in two others in the 2nd Annual Cynopsis: Sports Media Awards. For the soccer-specific winners ...

Documentary Series
Winner: FOX Soccer Channel -- BEING: Liverpool
Honorable Mentions: Time Warner Cable Sports -- “Road to MLS Cup 2012 (Backstage: Galaxy)”

Live Coverage of a Sporting Event (National)
Honorable Mentions: FOX Soccer Channel -- Survival Sunday (FOX Soccer), FOX Sports -- 2012 UEFA Champions League Final

New Sports Show
Winner: FOX Soccer Channel -- BEING: Liverpool

Honorable Mention: Embassy Row -- Men in Blazers

Sports Series (Entertainment)

Honorable Mention: FOX Soccer Channel -- BEING: Liverpool

Tune-In Promotion
Honorable Mentions: FOX Sports International -- BEING: Liverpool, Ink: All Leagues, Knockout Week

Use of Integrated Sponsorship for Broadcast
Honorable Mention: Univision Communications, Inc. -- Fanaticos del Frio

Honorable Mentions: FOX Soccer Channel --
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1 comment about "NWSL crowd puts exclamation point on Portland market".
  1. John Soares, April 22, 2013 at 8:37 p.m.

    LOve Portland!... But you said SOCCER market; Not NWSL. Seattle still wins in overall soccer market. Just sold nearly 40,000 tickets for National team in JUNE and against PANAMA..... still beats them all:)

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