The biggest crowd of the MLS season will be on hand for tonight's match between the Seattle Sounders and the New York Red Bulls as more than 45,000 tickets have already been sold. Those fans, though, will not be treated to the star-studded affair many believed they would be seeing when those tickets were purchased. Thierry Henry, Rafael Marquez, Tim Ream and Juan Agudelo will all be missing for the Red Bulls, while the Sounders are still without the likes of Steve Zakuani.
The good folks at Sounder at Heart are not particularly concerned:
Of course, what's bad for name recognition is good for victory odds. The tension between competitiveness and getting butts in the seats is one that's never far away in a league as young as MLS, even for the successful franchises. The argument of the #TrophiesNotFriendlies movement is that winning is what ultimately will draw fans to the games. And pocketing a bunch of cash for a River Plate friendly in the middle of the season at the risk of injuries and fatigue affecting the playoff race is a bad bargain. This is true in mature leagues like MLB and the NBA where the attendance recipe is as simple as getting a good stadium or venue and winning. Counterarguers will point to Colorado as a team that just won a championship but can't consistently draw. But whatever problems Commerce City has drawing fans don't exist in Seattle, as we've shown over the last two years.