Attendance stories in connection to the Seattle Sounders have a tendency to get old. Anyone who pays attention to the sport, at least in the United States, is now well aware of the fact that they draw crowds every game that most teams would be happy to draw over the course of a month. But Thursday's news that more than 60,000 tickets for Saturday's game have already been sold is downright astounding.
Discounting MLS games that were part of a double-header with either national teams or big international clubs, only six games in league history have ever drawn more and none of those games have happened since 2007. That was the game David Beckham made his MLS debut, as he played in front of an announced audience of 66,237 against the New York Red Bulls. The rest of the games in the league's top 10 all-time fit into one of two categories: they were played during the league's first year or on Fourth of July.
In a sense, Saturday's Seattle Sounders-San Jose Earthquakes game is a unique spectacle in a league that has generally been forced to rely on gimmickry to draw its biggest crowds.
Of course, there is a reason so many people are snapping up tickets. The game is being billed as a farewell to goalkeeper Kasey Keller. While it's true the Sounders will play at least two more competitive matches at CenturyLink Field this season, this is their final regular-season home game and the team was able to plan this out long in advance.
Still, this is a whole different kind of spectacle than what drew people the Meadowlands to see the opposing team's international star or to numerous other stadiums mainly to see fireworks. Sounders fans will be showing up en masse to see one of their own, a player who has been with the team almost literally since the very beginning.
It seems unlikely that the Sounders will be able to draw crowds like this on a weekly basis, but even the cynics have to admit that it's pretty cool to see what those fans can do when properly motivated.
MLS Top 10 Single-Game Attendances
69,255 L.A. Galaxy v NY/NJ MetroStars (4/13/1996)
66,237 New York Red Bulls v L.A. Galaxy (8/18/2007)
62,703 L.A. Galaxy v New England Revolution (7/4/1996)
60,500 Colorado Rapids v D.C. United (7/4/2001)
60,433 L.A. Galaxy v Miami Fusion (7/4/1999)
60,076* Seattle Sounders v San Jose Earthquakes (10/15/2011)
55,234 L.A. Galaxy v San Jose Earthquakes (7/4/2002)
53,844 L.A. Galaxy v Columbus Crew (7/4/2000)
53,655 L.A. Galaxy v Kansas City Wizards (7/4/1998)
53,250 NY/NJ MetroStars v L.A. Galaxy (6/9/1996)
*Announced tickets sold as of Oct. 13, 2011
-Source: Major League Soccer