The Seattle Sounders beat Portland 1-0 in Clint Dempsey's home debut and there were a few people there to both welcome him and make sure the club's visiting rivals felt the opposite. The match drew 67,385 fans — the highest attendance ever for a match in Seattle (beating a 2011 friendly against Manchester United that drew 67,052), the second highest ever for an MLS match (only trailing the league's 1996 opener between the LA Galaxy and NY/NJ MetroStars which had 69,255) and third highest in the world for the weekend, according to ESPN. In fact, the only reason the attendance wasn't higher is because they reached maximum capacity for the NFL stadium in which they play, CenturyLink Field.
And to match the massive attendance figure, Seattle fans had an equally massive tifo display that read "Build a bonfire" (Timbers fans modified a Man United chant featuring those lyrics) with their own four horsemen of the Cascadia apocalypse riding through the flames...
The high attendance figure wasn't all down to Clint Dempsey's arrival, though. The corresponding fixture last year drew 66,452. So far this season, Seattle's average attendance is nearly 43,000 — almost double the second best LA Galaxy (which is afforded by their much higher capacity). But attendance was never Seattle's problem, nor is it the league's. What does desperately require improving is MLS television ratings and on this night, national broadcaster ESPN slipped up a couple of times in their attempt to help the cause.
First, they inadvertently made fun of the league by mixing up the word "parity" with "parody" on a halftime graphic.
Then their feed cut out for a significant period during the second half, forcing them to go show commercials during the match. But none of that kept Seattle fans from having a laugh at Portland's expense.
— Mike Standish (@MikeStandish) August 26, 2013
- Sports & Recreation
- Clint Dempsey
- Manchester United