A blog post below notes that Montreal has bumped Seattle as the MLS attendance leader. The expansion Impact is drawing 40,529 through four home games (including 60,860 to see the LA Galaxy on Saturday) while Seattle is averaging 38,724 through seven home games.
We asked Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer about this today.
"It’s exciting for the league," he said. "I don’t think they’ll stay there very long – which is unfortunate. Again, big crowds, more excitement, more engagement within the league is just a good thing. I’m very happy with our 39,000 per game, so if someone gets to 42, or 44 or 46 we’ll try to compete and our fans I’m sure will take that as a challenge. But ultimately it’s a good thing."
Hanauer said the successes of Vancouver and Montreal do not surprise him because he was exposed to them as soccer-friendly markets when those Canadian cities and Seattle were all playing in the United Soccer Leagues.
"I’ve always believed that Canada was a different animal when it came to soccer support," he said. "They don’t have quite the competition that we have in this country, whether you look at college sports, that’s not in those markets generally. NHL is the one massive competitior for that relevance in that market. They certainly have American-style football, but not as big as the NFL. So I think from a competition standpoint … and from the history they have shown with the (USL) support in Montreal and Vancouver, I was pretty convinced it would be successful. You never know completely how successful. Again, it’s fantastic for the league overall."
With the Sounders about to visit Vancouver, Canada, this weekend for a Cascadia Cup match, we also asked Sounders coach Sigi Schmid about that country's passion for soccer.
"Immigration in Canada for a lot of years was a lot easier than immigrating to the United States," Schmid said. "So the culture, the people that live there have closer roots to Europe. They’re not that far removed from there, so their connection to the sport is a little closer, is a little tigher. So when you look at Vancouver and you look at Toronto and Montreal, all those cities, they’re very cosmopolitan cities with a lot of people from diverse backgrounds, and as a result of that the interest in soccer is the common ground. It’s the common thread. If you go anywhere in the world and you start juggling a ball, somebody will talk to you. That’s what happens I think for a large part of Canada, andtheir diversity and them being closer in their roots to having come from Europe is what I think really helps them."