Sounders Insider

Building attendance not a given in MLS

Here's today's TNT story on the Sounders' ticket-sales announcement from yesterday, which shows Sounders FC building on its record attendance of last season.

That isn't the natural way of the world in MLS, where there are no shortage of examples of fans sampling the product and then drifting away.

That has been the case from the league's first season of 1996, when the LA Galaxy was the attendance leader at 28,916 per home game. But by the second year, the Galaxy's attendance drifted down to 20,626. And last season -- even with Beckham on board, it was 20,416.

MLS expansion teams have shown no clear trend. Chicago drew 17,887 in its first season (1998), but fell off to 16,016 the following season and was down to 14,689 last year.

The 2005 season brought in Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA. RSL drew 18,037 in its first year, declined to 16,366 in its second. Chivas started at 17,080, then climbed to 19,840 in its second season, but was down to 15,092 last season.

Toronto started strong (20,130 in 2007) and remains strong (20,344).

San Jose, because of stadium issues, seems to be a special case, but the kindest read is that there's nothing there to indicate Sounderslike wild popularity followed by even wilder populatiry.

Leaguewide, MLS drew 17,406 in 1996, 16,037 last season.