Atlanta United sets sights on U.S. pro soccer record

Atlanta United will break the MLS single-game attendance record for a stand-alone game when it hosts Orlando City Saturday at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It is already on course to break the league's single-season attendance and has a shot at the American soccer attendance record held by the old New York Cosmos.

Photo courtesy of Atlanta United FC

Atlanta United tweeted on Thursday that it will break the MLS record of 69,225 fans for a stand-alone game game set by the LA Galaxy for its first ever game in 1996. (Other MLS games have drawn larger crowds, though they were played with international matches that headlined the doubleheaders.)

The U.S. pro soccer attendance record for a stand-alone game is 77,691 for the 1977 NASL playoff game between the New York Cosmos and Ft. Lauderdale Strikers. The Cosmos drew crowds of more than 70,000 for eight league games (four regular-season and four playoffs).

MLS Highest Attendance (Stand-alone game):
69,255 LA Galaxy vs. MetroStars (4/13/1996, Rose Bowl)
67,385 Seattle vs. Portland (8/25/2013, CenturyLink Field)
66,452 Seattle vs. Portland (10/7/2012, CenturyLink Field)
66,237 NY Red Bulls vs. LA Galaxy (8/18/2007, Giants Stadium)
66,216  Seattle vs. LA Galaxy (10/27/2013, CenturyLink Field)

For the first time, Atlanta United will open Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which it shares with the NFL Falcons, to a capacity of 71,000.

Atlanta United's first two games -- which it won 3-0 and 7-0 -- drew crowds of 45,314 and 42,511. For both games, the upper deck -- approximately 31,000 seats -- was closed off with retractable panels.

Atlanta United, which played its first nine games at Georgia Tech's Bobby Todd Stadium, is averaging 45,881 fans a game through 11 games, putting it ahead of the MLS record of 44,247 set by the Seattle Sounders in 2015.

Atlanta United is within reach of breaking the U.S. pro soccer record of 47,856 fans a game set by the NASL's New York Cosmos at Giants Stadium in 1978. It has six home games left on its schedule: two games played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium's full capacity -- Saturday against Orlando City and on Oct. 22 against Toronto FC -- and four games at the reduced capacity.

If Atlanta United averages 70,000 for the two games at full capacity and 43,000 for the other four games, it will break the Cosmos' record.

Photo courtesy of Atlanta United FC

U.S. Pro Soccer Highest Average Attendance:
47,856 (1) New York Cosmos (NASL, 1978)
46,690 (2) New York Cosmos (NASL, 1979)
45,881 (3) Atlanta United (MLS, 2017)
44,247 (4) Seattle Sounders (MLS, 2015)
44,038 (5) Seattle Sounders (MLS, 2013)
43,734 (6) Seattle Sounders (MLS, 2014)
43,400 (7) Seattle Sounders (MLS, 2017)
43,144 (8) Seattle Sounders (MLS, 2012)
42,754 (9) New York Cosmos (NASL, 1980)
42,636 (10) Seattle Sounders (MLS, 2016)
38,496 (11) Seattle Sounders (MLS, 2011)
36,173 (12) Seattle Sounders (MLS, 2010)
34,857 (13) New York Cosmos (NASL, 1981)
34,150 (14) New York Cosmos (NASL, 1977)
32,847 (15) Orlando City (MLS, 2015)
32,271 (16) Minnesota Kicks (NASL, 1977)
31,324 (17) Orlando City (MLS, 2016)
30,943 (18) Seattle Sounders (MLS, 2009)
30,860 (19) Minnesota Kicks (NASL, 1977)
29,164 (20) Vancouver Whitecaps (NASL, 1983)

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