MLS and the SUMmer of Soccer cont’d

Posted on by Peter C


SUMmer of Soccer Continues

Coming into this past weekend, 21 matches(5 doubleheaders) have been played during the the ‘Summer of Soccer’ which began on June 20. Attendance: 252,914. All games, except the Timbers friendly, were part of entities owned or marketed by Soccer United Marketing(SUM).

The Gold Cup finished the group phase with 6 doubleheaders.

Here’s how this week’s events fared …

Summer of Soccer Attendances
Opponents Venue Date Event Att
 Panama vs. Nicaragua
 Mexico vs. Guadeloupe
 U of Phoenix Stadium
 Glendale, AZ
Sun, July 12  Gold Cup  23,876 
 RSL v Club America  Rio Tinto Stadium
 Sandy, UT
Sat, July 11  Friendly  17,212 
 USA v Haiti
 Honduras v Grenada
 Gillette Stadium
 Foxborough, MA
Sat, July 11  Gold Cup  24,137 
 Costa Rica v Canada
 El Salvador v Jamaica
 FIU Stadium
 Miami, FL
Fri, July 10  Gold Cup  17,269 
 Guadeloupe v Nicaragua
 Mexico v Panama
 Reliant Stadium
 Houston, TX
Thu, July 09  Gold Cup  47,713 
 Haiti v Grenada
 USA v Honduras
 RFK Stadium
 Washington, DC
Wed, July 08  Gold Cup  26,079 
 Jamaica v Costa Rica
 El Salvador v Canada
 Crew Stadium
 Columbus, OH
Tue, July 07  Gold Cup  7,059 
       total  163,345 
       average  23,335 

The six Gold Cup doubleheaders are marketed(Ch-ching!) by SUM.

“Soccer United Marketing manages marketing, public relations and operations for the Gold Cup tournament.”

No marketing that I could see directed at the Anglo soccer audience in Phoenix. Checked the AZ Republic’s Sunday morning website and found no reference to the games. At least it wasn’t easily located if a gameday article existed.

Phoenix as a possible World Cup venue in 2018 or 2022? Can’t imagine anyone with FIFA who may have attended the matches in Phoenix thinking anything other than, ‘Whoa, it’s f**king hot!’. It was 113 on game day.

How Does the Gold Cup Impact MLS Soccer

USMNT Gold Cup
MLS Same Day Attendance v Average
  Group Play  6/6/2007  07 Avg      
  Toronto  20,113   20,130     
  Chicago  20,407   16,490   7/4/2009  09 Avg
  FC Dallas  14,640   15,145   14,327   9,306 
  Columbus      14,370   13,056 
  Colorado      19,680   13,045 
  Kansas City      10,385   9,789 
  Los Angeles      20,609   19,292 
  Group Play      7/11/2009  09 Avg
  Seattle      32,404   29,715 
  New England      24,137   11,511 
  Chicago      18,123   11,726 
  Colorado      8,128   13,045 
  San Jose      9,679   11,774 
  Chivas USA      23,409   15,312 


In my last post on this subject, I had mistakenly listed an ’07 Houston match as occuring on same day as a USMNT Gold Cup. The US match was on June 6, as the above chart indicates.

For those of us that are looking for MLS to eliminate the scheduling conflicts with FIFA and CONCACAF, these numbers do not lend themselves to press the issue. For the most part, attendances on MLS match days that coincided with the USMNT match days were above 2009 seasonal averages. New England’s huge increase comes as a result of their MLS match being added to a Gold Cup doubleheader.

Most fans, of course, would make the case for not having their teams be forced to play with top players off on international duty, thereby diluting the quality of play. I’m certainly in that group. But it’s apparent that money can’t be used to as the wedge to change MLS scheduling policy, because it appears they are not being hurt. That will make it very difficult to convince the MLS to move more games to weekdays, which would be necessary to complete the schedule with breaks for internationals. It is my opinion that the league is still in ‘survival’ mode. Using the widely read Forbes report on MLS after the 2007 season as a baseline, I expect 11 teams will lose money this year. So while the league appears in no danger of folding, it still depends heavily on the ancillary revenues generated by SUM’s non MLS business activities and more recently, expansion fees. By the time expansion ends, will most teams be in the black? Don’t know, but until then the league(and SUM) will continue to play it conservatively. Only when it’s demonstrated that teams can make it on their own will the reins be loosened.

And that’s the point of this series of posts. In this post, I displayed a table that demonstrates that clever marketing could produce financially viable weekday events paired with MLS matches, thus overcoming the fears that MLS teams would be significantly hurt by shifting more games to weekdays. That would overcome a major stumbling block in alleviating MLS/International match conflicts.

How SUM of the Money is Spent

Dick’s Sporting Goods Park hosted the 2009 SUM U-17 Cup.

Congestion for some

SuperLiga after Group Phase
  Total Game Dates Average
2007  195,816   12   16,318 
2008  161,167   12   13,431 
2009  86,948   10   8,695 
2 Doubleheaders in 2009 meant
  2 fewer separate game dates
Chicago beat Revs on July 15
Final on Wed, Aug 5

This coming Sunday will complete a 29 day run in which the Revs will have played 8 matches(MLS, USOC, SuperLiga).

For Chicago, after they play this weekend, they’ll have played 3 matches in 8 days. Not too bad, but it comes a week removed from having played 5 games in 15 days from June 20 to July 4. And like most teams, key players Segares, Soumare and Pause were on international duty and missed games at various times.

As I’ve mentioned before, expect changes to the SuperLiga after this year. If the tournament survives in 2010, a World Cup year, and remains essentially unchanged, it will be a sure indication that live attendance and wide distribution of English language coverage in the US are irrelevant. That will demonstrate where the real money comes from; sponsorships and Spanish language TV. SuperLiga in August or September next year?


US Open
Jul 21 Sep 2
Semifinals Final
DCU, Houston, Seattle  

Seattle hosts Houston at the Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila, Wash. Rochester will travel to Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md. to meet DC United. Rochester receives $10,000 for being the last team standing from USL-1.

DCU and Houston play on July 18th, and all three play on July 25th. Houston will play 3 meaningful matches in 8 days during the Jul 18-25 time period. DCU has a CONCACAF Champions league match on July 28. Seattle will play Chelsea FC on the 18th.

Kansas City’s exit from the tourney culminated a run of 6 matches in 17 days. KC then played a league match on July 11, making it 7 matches in 21 days.


CONCACAF Champions League
Jul 28 – Jul 30 Aug 4 – Aug 6
Prelim First Leg Prelim Second Leg

DCU and TFC play MLS league games on Jul 25 and August 2. That means they will each play 4 times during the period Jul 25-Aug 6(13 days). RBNY play an MLS game on Jul 25, but are off the week of August 2.

All told, between July 18 and August 8, DCU has 4 MLS matches, 2 CONCACAF Champions league matches and 1 US Open Cup match. 7 matches in 22 days.


Well, it’s still not pretty, but unlike last year, teams won’t be coming out of SuperLiga to compete in the CONCACAF Champions League.

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4 Responses to MLS and the SUMmer of Soccer cont’d

  1. Joe in Indianapolis says:

    This sport is infinitely more interesting than the NFL. I’m hoping one day people come around to that.

  2. Ian says:


    The Super-Sham Liga semifinal drew over 7,000 yesterday for a doubleheader! This comes after the final group games were held during the US-Brazil Confed Cup final!

    Last year the final drew just over 9,000.

    Eat your heart out USL-1, PDL, NPSL, PCSL, etc. Superliga is the elephant in the room of events no one cares about! But will anyone from Superliga 09 sign with Everton like Peterlin did from the DPL-= that will be the big question.

  3. Ian, where do you get the 7,000 number from? I’m sure they had more than that in Foxborough last night. Partly because so many Revs fans want to give Superliga some sort of credence because they won it last year. Besides, with Blanco and the draw of Tigres and Santos Laguna (yes, I know it was their youth/reserve sides but still some fans will turn up) I would shocked, in fact flabbergasted if that 7,000 number isn’t something you simply pulled out of your rear end to make your point. I have not covered nor watched Superliga this year, but even I would give it more credit as a draw than you do.

    BTW, DPL must be PDL, correct?

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