August 10, 2006

Real Madrid: and Barcelona play separate pre-season games in the U.S. and draw a combined 137,000+. In pre-season. In America. The Barcelona-Club America/Houston Dynamo-LA Galaxy doubleheader set a record for largest soccer attendance in Texas at 70,500. I know I'm probably opening a can of worms here: any American non-soccer fans surprised? Anyone from our UK/Ireland/Rest of Europe (aka Italy in SpoFi-speak) contingent surprised?

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY to soccer at 05:34 PM - 12 comments

No, can can, should, and will thrive in America. I think that this year's World Cup at the Italian-American community's reaction to it really boosted soccer in America. I think when people ask you if the MLS is the 5th major sport, say yes. When they ask if the MLS has/will replace NHL as major sport #4, say yes. Finally, when they ask you if this country has become a country with three major sports, say yes, but only if the MLS is one of those three. PEople really care in America if Beckham scores a goal. I do.

posted by Joe88 at 05:45 PM on August 10, 2006

People will pay to go see a good product. I would pay to see Barca or Real Madrid play, but I don't have much interest in paying to see an MLS match. I LOVE the game, but when I watch MLS on tee vee it is like seeing people play with ankle weights and a medicine ball. Not to hate on MLS, but it just doesn't grab me. I *want* to support US soccer. I saw DC United last year... when they played Chelsea. Why be surprised when good teams (with big names) draw crowds? What size crowd does Houston normally draw for home games? Or for MLS games in general? This sounds so negative, and I apologize. I just don't see this as some sort of indicator of anything other than the popularity of very good sides who have a vast world-wide following.

posted by scully at 06:16 PM on August 10, 2006

Forget soccer, you should be trying to embrace real football ;) I think that the European teams who travel to the states should try and get it shown on telly over here too. For the average footie fan in Ireland American football isn't regarded all that highly, so it'd show some people that it's a lot better than many think.

posted by Fence at 06:16 PM on August 10, 2006

Soccer sucks, its what you call controlled chaos You mean like US foreign policy? Sorry, couldn't resist. Back on topic. These games are a good idea. The foreign drawcards get families to the park in the first place, and they then work out that it's entertaining to spend a warm summer probably afternoon or evening watching soccer. And MLS is probably a lot cheaper than the other major sports, so you can take the kids etc.

posted by owlhouse at 06:55 PM on August 10, 2006

Fence, are you a big Camogie fan? Tex, I'm American (of course), but I wasn't surprised at the turnouts since I know Mexican sides that play in the States frequently get big crowds and that's without Beckham (RM are playing Real Salt Lake Saturday), Ronaldinho and Lampard. Heck, the Mexican league has a short Cup-type competition, right after the new year I think, which they've played entirely in the US the past 2-3 years!

posted by billsaysthis at 10:34 PM on August 10, 2006

I'm never surprised when Madrid and Barca draw huge crowds; they do it wherever they go. However, it is nice that the USA finally cottoned on to that fact.

posted by squealy at 03:58 AM on August 11, 2006

owlhouse is right, it has a lot to do with the Latin American (esp. Mexican) populations in California and Texas. Not so sure they would be such a big draw in Minneapolis or Indianapolis, for example.

posted by sic at 04:42 AM on August 11, 2006

What about the world cup factor? There is a soccer fanhood explosion every four years, maybe we are seeing some the residules. world cup has me watching Fox Soccer Chanel every weekend now.

posted by HATER 187 at 09:03 AM on August 11, 2006

Squealy, would be interesting to see the attendance figures from the 2004 and 2005 visits. Champions World Tour, I think that was the marketing name for the matches, Chelsea, Man U, Liverpool, Inter, AC Milan, Real Madrid, on of the Old Firm clubs and a few other European sides came and played (mostly) each other, though Chelsea did play DC United last summer. IIRC a few SpoFites made it to some of the matches, goddam at Giants Stadium, StarFucker in Chicago and Vito90 in Seattle at least. Sic, you may be right but I would point out that Seattle and Rochester are A-League hot beds with no appreciable Hispanic populations and several big matches have been played in Foxboro, where the same is pretty much true as well. Your two negative examples are also cities without major American soccer club presences so I'm not sure they're of much use in the discussion.

posted by billsaysthis at 10:14 AM on August 11, 2006

MLS soccer, like all soccer, looks much better live than on the boob tube. Particularly MLS, since the broadcaster thinks it can make up for a slower-paced game with closer camera shots, which rob you of any sense of what's going on, on the pitch. Really, going to an MLS game is worth it, while watching it on TV may not be. Of course, I've been a DC United season ticket holder (well, at least until I moved to NYC a few years ago) from the start, and it's been easier to watch the class of the league in a great stadium than it is to watch the suckers on a narrow strip of astroturf in the Meadowlands. Oh yeah, and DC United has a pretty damn respectable record against foreign teams. Wooo-hoo.

posted by Hugh Janus at 12:49 PM on August 11, 2006

It's also worth mentioning the Barcelona/Chivas USA doubleheader drawing 92,650 at the LA Coliseum last Saturday. I don't disagree with the consensus on MLS; it 's barely watchable on TV, even in the 11th season. I think if fans are truly passionate about the sport, rather than the league, and understand the importance of this league making it in the States, they find a way to support it...forgive me for this...for the greater good. I just don't know any other way to put it. In no way am I trying the lay a guilt trip on anyone. If you wage a battle long enough the view of a big picture is clear.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 07:13 PM on August 11, 2006

Red Bulls claimed a sellout of Giants Stadium yesterday and I certainly enjoyed watching the game, friendly or no. Though the announcers, as mentioned were pretty much crap, with the constant repetitions of anything to do with Ronaldinho. I felt like the two bozos believed that each time they mentioned his name an angel got her wings.

posted by billsaysthis at 06:09 PM on August 13, 2006

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