Andrea stole my thunder a little with her previous post but I wanted to add to her thoughts on attendance.
Obviously, when it comes to soccer in Southern California, Mexico is king. The thousands upon thousands that come to attend both national team and club matches is well documented.
But when it comes to American soccer, there is only one team that draws well in Southern California. It's not Chivas USA. And it's certainly NOT the United States national team.
In terms of American soccer, this is a Galaxy town.
I'm actually a bit surprised that the U.S. scheduled a qualifier out here at Home Depot Center. It's the second consecutive year the U.S. has surprised me, as the U.S. played a pair of Gold Cup games out here last summer. Historically, the U.S. hasn't drawn well in Southern California. Even though soccer is popular among people of all backgrounds in SoCal, a scant few of them are willing to carry that interest in soccer over to the U.S. national team.
Sunday's turnout will probably be somewhere around 15,000, give or take. It's not inflated MLS attendance figures so we'll actually be close to the actual turnout, as we saw last year when Guatemala played the U.S. on a Thursday. Had that been an MLS game, that game probably would have been announced closer to 25,000 but it was actually a bit over 20,000.
How bad has the U.S. done in attendance out here at HDC? Take a look at the numbers: in the United States' six games at HDC, they've drawn an average of 16,596. That's not bad, actually, when you compare it to some MLS teams.
But consider this: Chivas USA had the second-highest attendance average in MLS in 2005 and fourth-highest in 2006. Why? Skewed numbers due to doubleheaders with Chivas Guadalajara. How'd they rank last season when there were no such dates? 13th out of 13.
The U.S. had two dates that were skewed - the aforementioned match against Guatemala and their game against Trinidad & Tobago. Anyone who was in attendance for the second half of US-Trinidad saw how many of the fans that day were there to see the U.S.
Here are the numbers, in reverse chronological order:
01/19/08 Sweden 14,8780
6/09/07 Trinidad 27,0000
6/07/07 Guatemala 20,821
01/20/07 Denmark 10,048
01/29/06 Norway 16,366
01/18/04 Denmark 10,461
I didn't figure out the averages without the Gold Cup games but it's probably around 13,000 or so.
The U.S. pulls in better numbers in other venues, as readers in the comments of the previous post have pointed out. Perhaps for the truly important games it's best for the U.S. to play in such venues.
But I still think it's important for the U.S. to play out here at HDC, even if only 13,000 or so die-hards turn out.
Perhaps U.S. and Chivas USA officials can get together to compare notes. Or better yet, perhaps they can ask the Galaxy their secret.