No team in Major League Soccer has bigger crowds than Sounders FC.
In each of their first three seasons, they smashed existing attendance records and in 2012 they are on pace to do the same, averaging an attendance of 42,086 in the 14 home MLS matches they have played this year.
That has resulted in a home-field advantage that has produced a 33-14-14 record in four MLS seasons, including a 9-4-1 record this year. For as much as they have succeeded at CenturyLink Field, though, they really turn it on when the crowd expands beyond normal capacity.
When attendance breaches 40,000, Seattle is 4-0-1 in MLS matches, outscoring their opposition 13-4.
On Sunday, the Sounders hope to continue that trend when they host the Portland Timbers in Seattle’s final match of the Cascadia Cup derby and the expanded capacity will exceed 66,000 for the nationally televised match on ESPN.
“It’s a special occasion for sure. It’s one that we look forward to and it’s a great opportunity,” said Sounders FC midfielder Brad Evans. “For us, this is a massive game. We’re playing for a playoff spot and this will be a big one.”
In 2011, the Sounders topped the New York Red Bulls 4-2 in front of 46,065 behind two goals from Roger Levesque and also beat the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 with 64,140 when Kasey Keller had a stellar performance in his final MLS regular season match.
This year, 46,932 were on hand for a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City and then August saw the Sounders trounce the LA Galaxy 4-0 in front of 60,908 and then ousted the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0 with 55,718 in the stands.
Those large crowds supporting the Sounders have contributed greatly to the club’s success in those matches, according to head coach Sigi Schmid.
“It’s a little extra motivation and when the crowd is that size it does become intimidating for the opponent,” he said. “It’s a great tribute to MLS and to the northwest rivalries. It’s going to be an electric atmosphere.”
The crowd will also feature 1,500 Portland fans who will fill the allotment of tickets given to the Timbers supporter groups.
Kickoff is slated for 6 pm Pacific Time with national television coverage on ESPN and the local radio broadcast on 97.3 KIRO FM.