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

Checking in on Former Rhinos’ Players

Players on NASL teams:

Mike Ambersley (2006-2007); forward, Indy Eleven: scored a goal in 1-1 draw
Chris Estridge (2012-2013); fullback; Indy Eleven: started at right back
Kristian Nicht (2012-2013); goalkeeper, Indy Eleven: started in goal for the club’s debut match

Connor Tobin (2011); defender, Carolina RailHawks: started in central defense

Chris Nurse (2009); midfielder, Fort Lauderdale Strikers: started in central midfield in the Strikers 2-0 win

Aaron Pitchkolan (2010); defender/midfielder, Minnesota United FC: started in central midfield for Minnesota United in a 2-0 away victory
Tyler Polak (2013); fullback, Minnesota United FC: did not dress

Carlos Mendes (2003-2004); defender, NY Cosmos: played 90 minutes and scored twice as the Cosmos easily swept the Silverbacks aside

Tony Donatelli (2011); midfielder, Ottawa Fury FC: substitute
Pierre-Rudolph Mayard (2013); winger, Ottawa Fury FC: substitute

Frankie Sanfilippo (2005-2006, 2010); defender, Tampa Bay Rowdies: started at right back for Tampa Bay in a 1-1 draw

 

Players on USL Pro teams:

Brad Stisser (2011); forward, Arizona United SC: did not dress

John Wilson (2004); defender, Charleston Battery: started and played 90 minutes in 1-0 loss to Orlando

Bilal Duckett (2013); defender, Charlotte Eagles: started and played 90 minutes in 2-1 win over Richmond

Andrew Hoxie (2010-2013); forward, Orange County Blues FC: did not dress

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 a 4-3 loss

Matthew Delicate (2006-2008); forward, Richmond Kickers: late game substitute in 2-1 loss to Charlotte

 

Players abroad:

Tam McManus (2012-2013); forward, Limerick FC (League of Ireland): late-game substitute appearance against Bohemians

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): The team was not in action this past weekend but Menyongar has been a mainstay in the team, playing every minute of every match for league-leading Bengaluru FC

 

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.