Sounders FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
June 8, 2013, 7:30 p.m. PT, CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: NBC Sports; TSN (Canada); KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; La Gran D 99.3 FM (Spanish)
Seattle Sounders FC has been known since 2009 as a club that attracts the largest crowds in Major League Soccer. In each of their first four years, Seattle has established a new league attendance record and they are poised to do the same in 2013. And one thing the fans have demonstrated is that they can rise to the occasion of a big game.
Eight times in their existence, they have played in front of crowds of 40,000 or more – all in the last three years. Though drawing big crowds at CenturyLink Field is just the beginning of the story.
The Sounders are 6-0-2 in those eight matches, outscoring their opponents 20-6 in the process.
That bodes well for Saturday’s match against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, when a crowd exceeding 50,000 is expected at CenturyLink Field for the first of four matches this season in which the entire stadium is opened.
“You feel it on the field. Our stadium’s always loud and always raucous and it’s always very pro Sounders and it gives you a great feeling. But when there’s more people, it’s a little more electric, it’s a little bit louder,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said.
Perhaps more impressive than their 6-0-2 record with over 40,000 fans in the stadium is that their success rate actually increases when the crowd exceeds 50,000. In four matches, they are 4-0-0, outscoring San Jose in 2011 and Portland, LA and Vancouver in 2012 by a total of 11-1.
“Whenever you have 50,000 people it’s an awesome atmosphere and it’s a blessing to play in front of those people,” said midfielder Servando Carrasco. “Hopefully we don’t let the fans down.”
It’s difficult to characterize the boost that players get from playing in front of crowds of that size. But Seattle defender Zach Scott insists that it’s a palpable difference.
“It’s tremendous. You don’t really feel like you ever get tired,” Carrasco said. “The crowd really lifts you.”
At each home match, the Sounders draw between 38,000 and 39,000. By drawing more fans at select games, it gives new fans the chance to see the team play live. In addition to elevating the atmosphere, it has also shown to grow the fanbase, something the players don’t take lightly.
“It’s an opportunity for us to gain some points in the standings, but hopefully we can win some fans,” Scott said. “That’s our goal is to make Seattle the best and biggest soccer town in America.”