By Robin Dich, Sports Radio KJR
The United States last hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1994, one of the reasons soccer was able to make a push in America over the past couple of decades. However it hasn’t made as large as an impact to an area than the Pacific Northwest. I’ll even include the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Portland Timber. No other MLS teams make a bigger draw than the rainy city.
So are we the new soccer capital of our nation? I believe so. Last night Century Link Field hosted the first World Cup Qualifier since the 1970s. The game drew about 40,846 in attendance for a game against Panama. The 7th largest crowd in a U.S. Qualifier and largest in the Pacific Northwest.
With a 2-0 win against Panama, a loud crowd in Seattle, booing Panama and chanting “U-S-A”. The soccer crowd was so loud, the Mariners who were playing at the time probably thought they were cheering for them as well.
Since 2009, when the Seattle Sounders were founded as a MLS team and began to play, they have led the league in average attendance every year. In 2012, the Sounders had largest average attendance with 43,144 (not counting new team Montreal). That number blows the second highest average attendance by almost double.
Attendance can mean one thing, but the Seattle fans are passionate about their soccer. Not only do fans attend games at Century Link, but it is even sold out when there are games at Starfire Sports Complex for Open Cup games. The energy, the atmosphere, the chants and supporter groups make a new comer believe they’re in a different country watching soccer.
When reporters asked some of the U.S. Men’s team about what they thought about the city and crowd and what they had to say.
“I felt like I was in another country,” said Clint Dempsey, from the Washington Post.
“Amazing crowd,” was Jurgen Klinsmann’s assessment, words echoed in some form by ever player within a breath of a microphone Tuesday night. “It was just a wonderful atmosphere that the players enjoyed tremendously. We all did.” From Pro Soccer Sports, from NBC Sports.
“[It was] the best crowd I’ve played in (front of) in the United States, without a doubt,” Michael Bradley said. “People don’t know what a difference it makes when you play in an atmosphere like this.” From Pro Soccer Sports, from NBC Sports.
Soccer has been a trending sport in the United States, especially in the past ten years. More and more kids are signing up for teams and camps, it’s the largest sport everywhere else in the world, and it’s starting to make its move here. If there is any place that should be dubbed the capital and the place it started, it’s Seattle.