When Michael Gspurning first saw CenturyLink Field in 2011, he had a prescient thought cross his mind.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we could fill it up?” he imagined.
Well, he needs to imagine no more.
On Sunday when Sounders FC meets the Portland Timbers, over 66,500 seats will be filled as the club expanded the capacity to include 400 additional upper level bleacher seats and standing room only for the first time in club history.
“I knew there was a chance, but now we are really selling the tickets,” Gspurning said. “It’s just awesome to play in front of this crowd.”
Big crowds have been a good omen for Sounders FC, too.
The club is 7-0-2 all-time in matches that draw crowds exceeding 40,000. Further, Seattle has won all four matches played in front of over 55,000, holding an 11-1 scoring edge.
“With the passion from our cities, our fans just go nuts,” Lamar Neagle said.
It won’t be the first time Seattle has hosted Portland in front of a crowd of immense size, either. Last year on October 7, with 66,452 in attendance at CenturyLink Field, Seattle blew away the Timbers 3-0 – a match pinpointed by Head Coach Sigi Schmid and 12th year Seattle veteran Zach Scott as the greatest memory in the rivalry to date.
CenturyLink Field is again climbing the charts for league-wide attendance supremacy, too. Seattle has smashed the league’s average attendance marks in each of its first four seasons and is likely to do so again in 2013.
The crowd will be the largest of the MLS season and stands to rank second all-time for standalone matches, behind only the 69,255 that saw the first match between the LA Galaxy and the New York/New Jersey MetroStars in 1996.
Currently Seattle holds the No. 7 and No. 9 spots on the historical list of attendance at MLS matches, ranking second and fourth among standalone matches, with the top five all coming as doubleheaders with international matches.
The match will rank at least fourth among all soccer matches in the United States in 2013, ranking behind three double-header matches in the Gold Cup semifinals and quarterfinals and in the Guinness International Champions Cup. The highest standalone match this year was the 62,107 that saw an international friendly between Mexico and Nigeria at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Four of the current Top 20 attended matches in the U.S. in 2013 have been played at CenturyLink Field, including Sounders FC matches against the Timbers and Whitecaps FC, as well as a World Cup qualifier and Group Stage matches in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Top 20 attended matches in the U.S. in 2013
|81,410||USA-Honduras/Mexico-Panama||CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals
|70,540||USA-El Salvador/Honduras-Costa Rica
||CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals
||Real Madrid-Chelsea/LA Galaxy-AC Milan||Guinness International Champions Cup|
||USA-Panama||CONCACAF Gold Cup final
|56,822||Mexico-Panama/Canada-Martinique*||CONCACAF Gold Cup group A
|54,229||Mexico-Trinidad & Tobago/Panama-Cuba||CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals
|54,184||Real Madrid-Inter Milan||Friendly|
|50,028||San Jose-Los Angeles
|41,983||Chelsea-Inter Milan||Guinness International Champions Cup|
|40,681||Real Madrid-Everton/LA Galaxy-Juventus||Guinness International Champions Cup|
|40,487||USA-Panama*||2014 World Cup qualifying|
|39,764||Chelsea-AC Milan/Valencia-Inter Milan||Guinness International Champions Cup|