Major League Soccer has made significant strides in the North American sports sphere in the last 10 years. David Beckham’s arrival at the Los Angeles Galaxy changed soccer in the United States and Canada, and since then, MLS has grown at an astonishing rate. MLS fans are gearing up for the 2020 MLS season. Fans can use this BetMGM bonus to wager on the team they believe will win the upcoming MLS Cup when the new season kicks off.
Despite the growth and the incredible attendance seen in Seattle, Toronto, Atlanta, and Los Angeles, there are several clubs lagging behind. Five teams averaged fewer than 16,000 fans per game in 2019 and four of those clubs experienced a drop in year-on-year attendance.
MLS empty seats
The five lowest average attendances in MLS in 2019 were experienced by the Houston Dynamo (15,674), Columbus Crew (14,856), FC Dallas (14,842), Colorado Rapids (14,284), and Chicago Fire (12,324). The teams’ fans will hope for better in 2020 and they can visit DraftKings to bet on each game when the new season begins.
All but four of the five teams missed out on the MLS Playoffs. FC Dallas were the only side that won more games than they lost and eked into the postseason. They were eliminated in the first round by the Seattle Sounders, 4-3.
Worryingly for MLS and the five teams was that none of them had the worst points totals during the regular season. That unfortunate achievement went to FC Cincinnati which averaged 27,336 fans per game, MLS’s third-best attendance average.
What to do to improve fan interest?
The five lowest drawing teams are middle of the road in terms of success and struggling to draw fans. Other than doing the obvious, winning, it is difficult to come up with a proven plan to draw fans to home matches. Columbus Crew were on the verge of moving to Austin, Texas due to their inability to draw fans. MLS stepped in and prevented that relocation due to supporter outrage.
What the low attendances show is that soccer is not as popular as perceived in the five specific cities. Houston and Dallas both fell into the bottom five in attendance and both are in the state of Texas. A traditionally American football-loving state, the Dynamo, and Hoops struggled to draw fans during the hot months of summer.
The Colorado Rapids have been notoriously stingy in finances and fail to put a winning team on the pitch year after year. The Chicago Fire have plenty of issues and have taken the step of moving from their purpose-built stadium and back into the enormous NFL venue Soldier Field. It is hoped the stadium will help the team draw more fans. There is the possibility of the team changing its name, badge, and colours to appeal to newer soccer fans in the city as well.
MLS is a strong league in specific areas and these five teams are showing that the cities they are located in are not hot-beds for the sport. With four of the five cities being MLS originals (the Fire formed in the league’s second season 1997 and are considered an original), soccer appears to be struggling to stay relevant in these regions.