2014 USL Pro Attendance Update: Week 19

Here is the basic list that will satisfy most fans of American soccer and American soccer numbers. Right here at the top of the post I have listed out each of the clubs in USL Pro in terms of average announced home attendances over the course of the season (through week 19). After each team name in parentheses is the number of home games followed by a colon and the average attendance figure. Go nuts.

1. Sacramento Republic FC (9):     13123
2. Rochester Rhinos (10):     5530
3. Orlando City SC (10):     4713
4. Charleston Battery (9):     3847
5. OKC Energy FC (10):     3738
6. Pittsburgh Riverhounds (10):     2708
7. Richmond Kickers (11):     2536
8. Wilmington Hammerheads FC (9):     2379
9. Arizona United SC (11):     2240
10. Harrisburg City Islanders (10):     1894
11. Charlotte Eagles (10):     793
12. Orange County Blues FC (10):     782
13. LA Galaxy II (10):     687
14. Dayton Dutch Lions (11):     499

The league’s total attendance through week 19 is 440,605

The league wide average attendance (buoyed at the top by Sacramento’s early-season matches at Hughes Stadium) is 3147.18.

The median team average is 2459, the average between Richmond Kickers and Wilmington Hammerheads FC, though this number doesn’t really tell us too much while each team has hosted a different number of games during the season.

The average of team averages above the median is 5171, that is the mean of team averages for teams above the median is 5171.
The per game average of all of the games hosted by the 7 teams above the median is 5036.41

The average of team averages below the median is 1325.
The per game average of the 7 teams below the median is 1311.17.

Again, the league’s total attendance through 19 weeks is 440,605.
Over 140 matches, the league has a per game average of 3147.18.

Without Sacramento Republic FC home matches included, the total league attendance drops by 118,107 to a less impressive 322,498.
With no Sacramento, the league wide per game average falls to 2461.82, a decrease of 685.

The league’s highest attendances are Sacramento’s three sell-outs at Hughes Stadium against Harrisburg City Islanders, LA Galaxy II, and Arizona United SC: 20,231.

The league’s lowest attendance is Dayton’s match against Orlando City on June, 22 which only drew an announced attendance of 275.

Sacramento’s sell-out is nearly 74 times larger (73.57) than Dayton’s lowest draw.

 

Anything else y’all think is noteworthy?
Any of figures I should keep track of in addition to the ones listed above?

Jacksonville Armada FC Names José Luis Villarreal Head Coach

Jose Luis Villarreal Head Shot-2
The future of the NASL looks bright if all expansion clubs can follow Jacksonville’s lead. On Wednesday afternoon the club, which will begin play in the second division league, announced the hiring of Argentinian coach José Luis Villarreal. Villarreal boasts an impressive CV as a player on multiple continents and valuable experience coaching a storied South American team.

ARMADA_FC_RGB
Jacksonville had already laid down a strong foundation before Wednesday’s announcement. Back on February 18 of this year, the club unveiled its name and logo after an extensive period of fan input. Club owner Mark Frisch and general manager Darío Sala proudly displayed the crest and explained the that the organization was “honored and proud to reflect the suggestions of our fans in our team name and logo while aligning with the history and tradition of this region.”

On Wednesday afternoon the club built a solid framework on top of the existing foundation.

“José Luis has everything we are looking for in a head coach – passion, determination, playing experience, strong international connections and leadership. But most importantly, he has a desire to be in Jacksonville, grow our local talent and be a part of our community,” said Darío Sala “On the field, he will help set the Armada FC apart with his style of coaching and play. His aggressive, attack-style approach is not seen in the U.S. right now and will be a new dynamic for the NASL.”

José Luis Villarreal has played not only for both Boca Juniors and River Plate in his native Argentina, but also for Atlético Madrid in Spain, Montpellier in France, and Pachuca in Mexico. In 2012, Villarreal joined the coaching staff of fellow Argentine Omar Labruna at Chilean club Colo-Colo as assistant manager. Through his role with Colo-Colo, Villarreal was responsible for reviewing tapes of his team and the next opposition in addition to dabbling in all aspects of coaching.

During Wednesday’s event, club owner Mark Frisch said of Villarreal, “As a former player, coach and recruiter, José Luis’ approach to the game, worldwide experience, connections and passion for the sport will help us achieve that goal. His unmatched experience and leadership abilities make him the perfect person to help build the Armada FC.”

José Luis, his wife Elisabeth, daughter Sofia (15), and son Lucas (14) have all recently moved to the Jacksonville area and are settling in ahead of next season’s debut. In the meantime Villarreal will be working closely with Sala to find and sign the talent capable to producing exciting and attacking play for the Armada FC.

On Human Rights and Sports Writing in View of the FIFA World Cup

I originally drafted this on April 16 when I was in a very bad mood and never got around to publishing it because I was in a better mood the next day. So uh… enjoy this rant, you guys and gals.

 

Swindled, injured, indebted, and dead Asian and African laborers in Qatar act merely as an excuse for American soccer fans to bash on a former rival World Cup bid. Claims that Emirati human rights’ blemishes delegitimate NYC FC’s expansion plans into MLS similarly don’t come from a source of social justice. Soccer writers cheaply use human rights’ record of NYC FC’s ownership group to mask their disdain for a foreign ownership group starting another franchise in the New York City metropolitan area while MLS has ignored large swaths of the country.

There are few clear examples of natural crossover between sports and politics in which the narrative is not pushed by someone with only passing knowledge in one or the other arena. FIFA’s World Cup provides ample fodder for these articles as the suffering of human beings on the periphery of the festivities is ubiquitous even if overlooked.

The Republic of South Africa spent an estimated $5bn on the 2010 World Cup while FIFA, enjoying tax-exempt status, netted profit exceeding $3bn on the event. What was heralded as a watershed moment for the continent, Africa’s first World Cup rather replayed the same storyline of a European venture exploiting the Global South while sticking the host nation with an overwhelming infrastructure bill.

Whether FIFA was malicious in its attempts to strap South Africa, a country with crippling unemployment and widespread underdevelopment in the face of epidemics, the footballing organization wanted to make a political statement by awarding the 2010 games. FIFA told the world, and the host nation specifically, that an African country was ready to host the World Cup tournament. Sadly for the people of South Africa, that was not the case. South African cities are still dealing with the costs of long-since idle hotels and stadia.

One might think that things are going well in the cultural home of football, this year’s host nation of Brazil. There have been widely reported violent cleansing of neighborhoods surrounding the designated tourist locations around World Cup stadia. National and regional police forces that were already known for violent conduct doubled down in the two years leading up to kick-off, adding extra soldiers to patrol and conduct evictions in multiple major cities in Brazil. Brazil’s government has decided to revise its existing counter-insurgency training tactics, but rather than improving its public face, these changes have been geared towards increasing the brutality and gratuitous exhibitions of violence in efforts to quell the sentiments of resistance among the native population.

By awarding the 2014 World Cup to Brazil, FIFA again was making a statement to the world that Brazil was ready to host the globe’s most prestigious sporting event. While Brazil may seem like a no-brainer in terms of soccer fanaticism, cities are already stretched to breaking points with faulty or deficient public transportation, a lack of financial commitment to higher education, and inadequate programs to deal with unemployment.

Brazil is country very much in flux from the depths of undemocratic darkness to the glorious enlightenment of representative democracy. Former President Ignacio “Lula” da Silva made grand strides to address income inequality worse than any country in the region and among the worst in the world. Even the relative success of Bolsa Familia and other social programs have made but a dent in the massive wall of ills facing Brazil’s poor families.

Rather than investing in the people of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff’s government has made international sporting events the national priority to show through a festive World Cup this year and Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 that Brazil is an acceptable destination for foreign investment. Little of the funds from these investments will ever trickle down to ameliorate the squalid conditions in which poor Brazilians must survive (or not).

FIFA is set to rake in many billions of dollars from this year’s World Cup while Brazilian tax money props up the organization’s profit centers and tourist destinations.

 

The point of this piece is not to discourage individuals from becoming active in social justice causes but one has to seriously question the motivation of those joining in the current chorus that Qatar’s human rights record is shaming FIFA. Surely the conduct of the global governing body itself is disparaging the image of the sport we love, but is that really what matters here?

Should the story not be about how Qatar doesn’t deserve to host the World Cup and instead be about the systematic process of human trafficking and modern slavery that is pervasive in Arabian Gulf States? Are you blind to the human story?

Is this really the first time that “soccer journalists” and American soccer fans have heard of human rights abuses? What does it say about the American soccer fandom that we don’t care about the unspeakable suffering of others until the sport in this country can potentially benefit from it?

The deaths of World Cup laborers in Qatar has become a footnote to the chorus heard around the soccer landscape in this country: “Qatar bought votes to win the bid, summer temperatures are dangerous and a winter WC is stupid, the country has an abysmal human rights record*, and alcohol is illegal over there.”

 

It is rather amusing to see American soccer fans and journalists/bloggers daily cite the human rights and labor conditions in Qatar and the Emirati interests behind Manchester City and NYC FC to complain about their respective soccer entities. Where are these same people when America’s drone program murders children in Pakistan and Yemen? Where are these same people when conservatives actively repeal the power of organized labor in this country?

Are you upset that Gulf States repress women? What are you doing about unequal/unfair pay, shameful sex education curricula, state laws that criminalize miscarriages, acts of terrorism against medical professionals who provide access to reproductive health?

You’re up in arms about the second-class status of South Asian and African migrant laborers in the Gulf? Law enforcement in this country rounds up immigrants (and folks who may happen to look like immigrants) in order to fill quotas in both public and private (for-profit) prisons. If you’re worried about minority rights, what are you doing to address stop and frisk policies and the culture of racialized violence by American police forces? Should you not also care about the piecemeal destruction of the Voting Rights Act and increasing attempts at the state level across the country to reinstate Jim Crow style legal discrimination?

If you feel so strongly that FIFA is dragging the sport you follow through the mud because of rampant corruption, why do you not feel similarly that the elimination of barriers to widespread corruption in American electoral politics is dragging our country through the mud?

The abuses of Qatar and the moneyed interests of the United Arab Emirates are simple narratives. Americans generally know (next-to-)nothing about these countries which allows them to become “the others” in our collective consciousness as if global events were a cheap Mad Libs. Whether it is indeed from a place of genuine concern for the well-being of others or simply a way to spitefully differentiate ourselves from the unknown other (and in doing so argue to host the 2022 tournament), the human rights aspect of the story deserves a better discourse.

The deaths of South Asian laborers should not be a means to argue that Qatar shouldn’t have the World Cup (of course to the benefit of the United States of Soccer); these human rights issues should be discussed on their own merit. Using human tragedy and real life suffering to make a point about sports that benefits yourself is morally reprehensible and disrespectful to the victims.

Do better.

Be better.

USL Pro Attendance Recap: May 19

Here are the averages by team through Week 9:
The format is Team name (number of home matches): average attendance

Sacramento Republic FC (3):     19292
Rochester Rhinos (2):     5908
Orlando City SC (4):     4716
OKC Energy FC (3):     4002
Charleston Battery (4):     3547
Pittsburgh Riverhounds (3+):     2880
Arizona United SC (5):     2704
Richmond Kickers (3+):     2629
Wilmington Hammerheads (4):     2538
Harrisburg City Islanders (4):     1558
Charlotte Eagles (3):     855
Orange County Blues FC (5):     764
LA Galaxy II (6):     717
Dayton Dutch Lions (4):     644

(+) indicates missing match data

The league-wide average attendance is 3291, though I’m missing a match from Richmond and a match from Pittsburgh.

The league’s average without Sacramento’s 3 home matches drops to 2331, a difference of 960. Sacramento Republic FC’s attendance adds over 40% to the average of the rest of the league.

The median team average in 2666.5.

The teams above the median hold an average of 5704.4 across 24 games with one game missing.

The teams below the median hold an average of 1294.2 across 29 games with one game missing

Sacramento Republic FC has drawn 33.2% of USL Pro’s total attendance through Week 9 of the 2014 season (with two games missing)

Oddly enough, the two teams with that hosted Rochester Rhinos in Week 7 (Richmond and Wilmington) saw a significant decrease in average attendances, dropping by over 200 and nearly 100 respectively.

Harrisburg has enjoyed consistent attendance numbers again this year (only a 294 difference between its highest and lowest draws) just as it did last year.

LA Galaxy II’s number by contrast have a difference (849) higher than their average (717) across 6 home matches.

Charlotte Eagles drew in its third match (1261) nearly as much as the first two matches combined (1303); maybe the team should play MLS reserve sides every week.

Not to beat the dead horse at this point, but Sacramento Republic FC’s average attendance (19292) is higher than all NASL teams and 10 MLS teams: Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, FC Dallas, NE Revolution, New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union, San Jose Earthquakes.

USL Pro Attendance Recap: April 28, 2014

Here’s the current team average home attendance as of Monday, April 28.
Sacramento Republic FC (1):     20231
Rochester Rhinos (1):                 6358
Orlando City SC (3):                    4777
OKC Energy FC (1):                    4230
Richmond Kickers (1+):               3507
Charleston Battery (3):                 3234
Pittsburgh Riverhounds (2):          3078
Wilmington Hammerheads (2):     2945
Arizona United SC (3):                  2907
Harrisburg City Islanders (1):        1711
Charlotte Eagles (3):                      855
Orange County Blues FC (4):        847
LA Galaxy II (5):                              779
Dayton Dutch Lions (2):                 775

 

Let’s start at the top with the three highest “drawing” clubs in USL Pro. If you’ve been paying attention you’ll know that the number posted for the announced attendance may not equal the actual persons in seats and that the actual figure may not resemble what you saw on the livestream because there are also seats under the camera.

But back to the top three clubs:
Sacramento Republic FC; 20,231 = Holy wow!
The Republic are the toast of the town in American soccer after selling out Hughes Stadium for Saturday’s night home opening loss to Harrisburg. Get this: Sacramento has a higher 2014 season average than all of USL Pro (clearly, more than 3x), all of NASL (3x more than all but Indy Eleven), and 12 of the 19 MLS clubs. Sacramento outdrew the overall MLS average attendance for 2013 and for the first 8 weeks of 2014. The question for Sacramento is whether the team can replicate that figure for the next two home games before moving to the 8,000 capacity venue at Cal Expo for the remainder of the season.

Rochester Rhinos; 6358 = Is it for real?
I ask this question not only for the attendance figures but also for the results the club has grabbed so far. Rochester has been for a number of years the primary target of cynical internet users’ ire over bloated attendance numbers based on a range of evidence and delusions. This year’s home opener is better than 2013’s gate (Harrisburg City Islanders, 5963) but not quite as impressive as 2012’s first match Sahlen’s Stadium (Charlotte Eagles, 7953). As with that opening number, the results appear to be sandwiched between 2013 and 2012, which is fine by me.

Orlando City SC; 4777 = Coasting, or…
Orlando City received some (undue, in my opinion) criticism for the perceived notion that the club had nothing left to prove for the 2014 season. The Lions’ prowess over the previous three season in USL Pro had garnered the attention of MLS and, having been awarded an expansion franchise for 2015, Orlando had made it. While the team may be playing at a cramped venue in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World. While the numbers just shy of 5,000 may not approach 2013’s 8,053 or even 2012’s 6606, Orlando is in no danger of losing too many of the 20,886 fans that turned up to the USL Pro Playoff Final last year against Charlotte ahead of its debut in MLS returning to the Citrus Bowl.

As for notable figures from the remaining 11 clubs:

OKC Energy FC; 4230 = Promising for a shiny new thing
You wouldn’t be wrong to accuse me of being cynical about lower division soccer. In USL Pro we’ve seen teams come and go (6 teams, to be precise) but potential organizational support from Sporting KC may provide the foundation for success for the 2014 expansion side. OKC Energy FC sold out the game and then sold “obstructed view” walk-up tickets for more than most teams charge for general admission. Good on them but similar to Sacramento (and as we’ve seen with the NASL’s Indy Eleven this year and to the opposite effect NY Cosmos last year) the second game is much more indicative of the strength of a team’s penetration in its market than the home opener. Will OKC’s next match at Pribil Stadium against OC Blues on May 10 bring a similar crowd of high-3000 or low-4000?

Orange County Blues FC; 847 = Has rebranding had an effect?
Through 4 games last season, the (then LA) Blues averaged 659 and finished the year between 542 and 718 [my number, missing three games, and Kenn's which includes super secret special detective numbers]. I’d like to say that the rebrand to the Orange County moniker and the move to UC Irvine from Cal State Fullerton and a myriad other venues, a stabilization I begged for over the past two years, has been successful but hte jury is still out.

Dayton Dutch Lions; 775 = The little locomotief that could?
I gosh-darn hope so.
I apologize for the expletive language above but I want this club to succeed so badly. Now with VSI Tampa Bay FC Flames rightly extricated from the league, Dayton holds the unwanted tag of “Lowest Drawing Club in USL Pro.” I know a certain leader of the
rechterhand van de leeuwen who deserves larger numbers not only in the Oranje Legion but overall in the Dutch Lion’s home, and maybe that’ll happen at DOC.

A lot of the other numbers are what has come to be expected. Pittsburgh (in the still shiny Highmark Stadium), Wilmington, Richmond, and Charleston will form the solid middle of USL Pro. Arizona United SC has started out well but so did Phoenix FC last year; hopefully this club can maintain its current position in the middle of the pack. LA Galaxy II isn’t trying to win attendance awards but the Eagles will want to leave a lasting mark before it sells its market franchise rights.

Former Rhinos Players Update: April 21, 2014

Players on NASL teams:

Mike Ambersley (2006-2007); forward, Indy Eleven: played up top for the full match in 1-1 draw
Chris Estridge (2012-2013); fullback; Indy Eleven: played the full match as a right back
Kristian Nicht (2012-2013); goalkeeper, Indy Eleven: played the full match in goal

Connor Tobin (2011); defender, Carolina RailHawks: started in central defense, played the full match in a 4-1 win

Chris Nurse (2009); midfielder, Fort Lauderdale Strikers: started in central midfield, played the whole match, and scored a goal in a 4-1 loss

Aaron Pitchkolan (2010); defender/midfielder, Minnesota United FC: started in central midfield in 2-1 win
Tyler Polak (2013); fullback, Minnesota United FC: sat on the bench

Carlos Mendes (2003-2004); defender, NY Cosmos: played the full match in central defense in a 1-0 win

Tony Donatelli (2011); midfielder, Ottawa Fury FC: started in central midfield, played 87 minutes in a 2-1 loss
Pierre-Rudolph Mayard (2013); winger, Ottawa Fury FC: started on the left wing and played the full 90

Frankie Sanfilippo (2005-2006, 2010); defender, Tampa Bay Rowdies: played the full match at right back in a 1-1 draw

 

Players on USL Pro teams:

Brad Stisser (2011); forward, Arizona United SC: 35 minutes as a sub in a 2-1 win

John Wilson (2004); defender, Charleston Battery: started and played 90 minutes in 1-1 draw

Bilal Duckett (2013); defender, Charlotte Eagles: Team didn’t have a match

Andrew Hoxie (2010-2013); forward, Orange County Blues FC: was not in the squad

Alfonso Motagalvan (2010-2011); central midfielder, Pittsburgh Riverhounds: dressed but did not play
Danny Earls (2008-2009, 2012-2013); fullback/midfield, Pittsburgh Riverhounds: started and played 90 minutes in 2-2 draw

Matthew Delicate (2006-2008); forward, Richmond Kickers: 78 minutes off the bench in 2-2 draw

 

Players abroad:

Tam McManus (2012-2013); forward, Limerick FC (League of Ireland): played 51 minutes and scored a the winning goal in a 2-1 against Athlone Town on Friday and then played 31 minutes in a 0-0 draw against Derry City

Matt Horth (2013); forward, Leiknir Reykvajik: The Icelandic second division league doesn’t start until May

Johnny Menyongar (2006-2009); attacking midfielder, Bengaluru FC (Indian I-League): Menyongar scored the game-winning goal in a 4-2 win that clinched the title for Bengaluru in its first season with a round of matches left to play. Menyongar has been crucial for Bengaluru throughout its title-winning campaign.

 

If you can think of any guys that I’ve overlooked or forgotten (especially guys playing abroad), be sure to show off and list them below. Thanks.

NASL Attendance Recap: April 21, 2014

The North American Soccer League has enjoyed an overall successful first two weeks to its 2014 season. Aside from some difficulties with the launch of the league’s video streaming service, NASL Live, and the integration of that streaming on mobile apps, the NASL has built on strengths from last season.

This year’s spring campaign (the first portion of the NASL season) features 3 more teams than 2013’s did, as NY Cosmos only played the fall campaign last year and the league has expanded to Indianapolis and Ottawa. All 3 of these newest clubs have shown promise off the field, notching up attendances ranging from decent to amazing.

Minnesota United FC, the league’s second best attended team of the spring campaign in 2013, hasn’t hosted a match yet this season. Several other teams have impressed with opening night attendances that were well above their season averages last year.

Indy Eleven is an unavoidable talking point. The club broke 11000 in its debut match but also reached 10400 in the rather more indicative second home game.

The NY Cosmos and San Antonio Scorpions have returned to the top of the attendance charts, where the two clubs finished 2013. Somewhat surprising though, Tampa Bay opened its season last week in front of an announced crowd of more than 7000. With all the MLS-expansion buzz in Florida (and the Southeast more generally), it will be interesting to see if the Rowdies can maintain that attendance level.

If you’ve got other observations about the attendance figures in the first two weeks of the 2014 NASL season, feel free to sound off below.

Week 2:
Ottawa Fury FC 1-2 Minnesota United FC, 3457
Atlanta Silverbacks 1-2 San Antonio Scorpions, 5000
Carolina RailHawks 4-1 Fort Lauderdale Strikers, 4007
Indy Eleven 1-1 Tampa Bay Rowdies, 10421
FC Edmonton 0-1 NY Cosmos, 4399

Week 1:
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2-0 Ottawa Fury FC, 3105
Indy Eleven 1-1 Carolina Railhawks, 11048
Tampa Bay Rowdies 1-1 FC Edmonton, 7003
San Antonio Scorpions 0-2 Minnesota United FC, 7381
NY Cosmos – Atlanta Silverbacks, 7906

As a point of comparison here are the full season (both the spring and the fall campaign) attendance averages for 2013.

Full 2013 season averages:
San Antonio Scorpions: 6951.3
New York Cosmos: 6858.7
Carolina RailHawks: 4707.6
Atlanta Silverbacks: 4702.6
Minnesota United FC: 4508.7
Fort Lauderdale Strikers: 4268.9
Tampa Bay Rowdies: 4043.9
FC Edmonton: 2409.7