SHOCKER (to some): MLS Averaging 15,000 for Playoffs 

SHOCKER (to some): MLS Averaging 15,000 for Playoffs

Though Major League Soccer's new playoff format--in which the top eight of the league's ten teams advanced from the regular season into two-game series decided by aggregate goals--continues to be the object of criticism by American soccer fans after the completion of its first round, the experiment has yielded some unassailable results both on the pitch and at the turnstiles.

Not only has the new format (which is widely used in the Champions League in Europe) produced a bevy of quality matches--most notably San Jose's 5-2 (5-4 aggregate) extra-time victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy last Sunday that is being widely hailed as the greatest game in the MLS' eight-year history--but it has seen very respectable attendence figures.

The average attendence for the eight first round matches was just below 15,000, a number that most NBA and NHL owners--as well as the bigwigs at many European football clubs--would envy on a given night during their regular seasons.

The high mark of 20,200 came in the Galaxy's first meeting with the Earthquakes two weeks ago at the brand spanking new Home Depot Center in Carson, CA, a soccer-only facility. The low of 10,200 was turned in by Metro Stars' fans, who have to trudge out to Jersey and Giants Stadium to see a match.

Of course, the NBA and the NHL can charge much higher ticket prices and sell tickets to many more games than can the MLS, so the comparison is somewhat flimsy. But the MLS, unlike its bigger, older competitors, can pay its players--who have no union and for the most part are just happy to have the chance to play soccer at a professional level--salaries so low that profligatem Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban can't even conceive of them.

So if anyone thought the folding of the WUSA portended dire times for American soccer in general, the current playoffs should cause them to think again. The MLS is becoming--or maybe already is--a solidly entertaining and financially sound sports league.

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Sun Oct 16, 2005 12:18 am MST by Lakers Tickets

Comment I'm not sure it's financially sound just yet. I've got to see the profit and loss statement myself. I know the ratings weren't all that great. Do you have fiscal evidence to back your claim? Zennie

Mon Nov 24, 2003 11:34 pm MST by Zennie

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