So, every soccer pundit has their own 2008 MLS Power Rankings debuting this week in honor of this weekend’s season kickoff. But what about a rankings for the team’s supporters?
Sure, its almost certainly a way to inspire supporters of the lower ranked teams to spew hatred my way, but I am used to such things. Did I mention I’m married?
Here is how I came up with the rankings.
First of all, the most important statistic has got to be attendance. If the fans don’t show up, the team suffers both on the pitch (emotionally) and off it (financially).
Now, I know some stadiums are bigger than others, so the percentage of seats sold also counts for something (sorry N.Y., N.E. & D.C. fans). In addition, the size of a team’s city has to be factored in. There is simply no denying that its tougher to get 15,000 people to show up for anything in KC than it is in NYC.
Its not just numbers that count, but the noise those numbers make. What I mean by that is I have also taken into consideration the “passion”, for lack of a better word, of the squad’s supporters. If the stadium’s sold out, but the crowd, or 12th man, is unable to make enough noise to intimidate the opposition, then what the heck are they doing at the match anyways?
Now, since I haven’t been to every stadium with a trusty noise decibel reader, I have got to go with reports I’ve read about the atmosphere at these stadiums. If these reports are accurate, my rankings should be as well.
Of course, I have also taken into consideration the teams’ formal supporters’ groups. At the end of the day, one group of well placed (and well inebriated) supporters can do more damage to an opposing player’s psyche than 20 years in psychoanalysis (just kidding, I got nothing against psychoanalysis, unlike some friends of Mr. Beckham…)
Finally, I am basing some of the rankings on the team’s internet buzz. Once again, I know, its pretty much impossible to measure such a thing. But, buzz is important as its pretty much the only way to tell how much interest there is in the team during the offseason. So, I have looked at the number of fan blogs dedicated to the teams and the frequency of the posting and commenting on those sites.
So, without further delay, here they are ladies and gents, the Preseason MLS Supporters’ Rankings. I will update these at the All-Star Break and then again at the season’s conclusion.
- Toronto FC: Stadium capacity: 20,500 – 2007 Avg. attendance: 20,127. Loud as all hell. Supporters’ groups are certifiably insane. Need I say more?
- L.A. Galaxy: Highest average home game attendance even B.B. (before Becks). Highest road attendance now as well. Many casual fans? Sure. But quite a few dedicated ones as well.
- Chicago Fire: Blanco helps, but the Fire already had some of the most insane supporters’ groups before his arrival. These are people best left alone during match time. Or anytime come to think of it.
- DC United: I know the stadium is big, but they fill it close to 20,000 consistently. For the only other two teams that can get that many people out regularly see #1 and #2 above. Plus, United has some of the biggest internet buzz out there. Several blogs are dedicated to anything and everything United.
- New England Revolution: The Revs have seen a recent surge in fan support and are one of the most discussed teams on the interwebs. Hanging on to guys like Twellman (despite his wishes) keeps the notoriously devoted New England followers happy.
- Real Salt Lake: You have to hand it to RSL fans. So little to cheer about thus far, yet they continue to put up decent attendance numbers. If the front office can deliver a winner, RSL fans will multiply like Mogwai in Gremlins. So what I’m saying is, somebody mark Deuchar and somebody keep these people from getting wet or eating after midnight…
- Colorado Rapids: Attendance is rising, but how can they have an average attendance of only 14,749 despite a beautiful new Dick? I know, I know… the Dick is small (wow, the references never end do they?). I am putting them at #7 because those that do show make alot of noise. Look at the home GAA and tell me the 12th man doesn’t play some good D.
- Kansas City Wizards: Lowest attendance in the league, yes, but Wiz fans are among the most passionate. Plus, this team could have more blogs dedicated to it than the Royals. Well, the Tony Pena kind, not the Prince William kind. Though Jimmy Conrad is just as dreamy…
- Columbus Crew: It’s not sexy being a Crew fan, so I give the diehards tremendous credit. Steady attendance over the years is nice, but the offeason buzz is nearly inaudible…
- FC Dallas: Dallas fans have a strong internet presence, and I think I saw two or three worshipping a Juan Toja figurine last time I was in town. Yes, last season their home attendance numbers are a little lower than some teams, but they were the only one never to get the Beckham bump.
- Houston Dynamos: How can a team that has only ever won championships be so low in overall attendance? How can a you win a title, then watch as fan support wanes? Seriously, can anyone answer these questions? I have no idea what is happening in Houston. It’s a soccer town too.
- New York Red Bulls: Soccer fans live in NYC. They just don’t seem to root for NYRB. The diehards are pretty nuts though. But at the end of the day, if not for the Beckham match, NYRB would have been second to last in home attendance. That’s abhorrent.
- Chivas USA: Attendance fell nearly 25% last season. The ones that show make alot of noise, but if they couldn’t support a winner last year, what will happen if they start to lose?
- San Jose Earthquakes: I have yet to see Quakes’ fans awake from hibernation and the numbers were ugly before they left despite the team’s success. You got to start somewhere SJE fans.
I know, I know. I am an insufferable idiot for placing [insert name of your team here] near the bottom of the list. If you really think so, let me hear all about it in the comments…