Major League Soccer and its underrated fandom

One of the greatest things about Major League Soccer is its fandom. Each club has their own identity, with Atlanta United holding the record-high attendance and the ear-bursting ATL chant, Orlando City boast their Dortmund-esque wall and Sporting Kansas City have their consistent sell-out crowds.

They aren’t the only clubs to impress from the stands, others will also receive a mention in this article, so grab a coffee and be patient!

The Premier League trumps Major League Soccer when it comes to quality, but the bigger clubs in MLS beat the EPL big boys when it comes to noise and support coming from the stands, I wholeheartedly believe that. And I can say that without even experiencing what the United States (And Canada) has to offer in person, yet…

There is an assumption that the big clubs in England have good atmospheres and that is simply not the case. Both Manchester clubs, Arsenal and Liverpool are tourist clubs and that has had a negative impact on the noise generated.

Anfield is considered one of the best atmosphere’s in England because of how the Liverpudlians turn out on a European night, and on those occasions they are obviously fantastic. However, when it comes to a 3pm kick off on a Saturday afternoon, you could easily mistake a Premier League match for a funeral. 

Same with Manchester City. I was in attendance for their last home game of the season against Huddersfield Town where they would go on to lift the trophy. The Huddersfield fans were the most vocal, which may have had something to do with them being the only team with something to play for. However, City were celebrating being champions of England…

Success seems to have come at a cost and the club has lost some of its identity. 

Anyway, enough of the Premier League, let’s take a look at what Major League Soccer has to offer. In no particular order…

Atlanta United

MBArena

Atlanta United have been a very positive addition to Major League Soccer, and they have firmly established themselves as one of the best fanbases in the league. 

Last season they set the record for a single-game attendance as 71,824 fans turned out for their regular-season finale against Toronto FC. They also set a new record for a season average as they finished with 48,200.

The one thing I like most about the Atlanta United faithful is their ear-bursting ATL ‘Viking’ chant which is simply incredible. You don’t have to attend a match to realise this is one of the loudest chants in world soccer. – Watch for yourself below.

 

Orlando City SC

orlando

Orlando City boast what the whole of English football is crying out for: Safe standing. 

The wall behind the goal at the Orlando City Stadium helps generate a loud and intimidating atmosphere, and they also have the use of pyrotechnics which tops it off nicely. The Orlando supporters section has a lot to envy from a British perspective, they have everything that is considered either dangerous or criminal on this side of the pond.

One of the best things produced by the Orlando City supporters section was the Walking Dead inspired tifo against Atlanta United last year…

 

 

torcida-orlando-the-walking-dead
Image: Universo Zumbo

If that’s not intimidating, I don’t know what is.

 

Portland Timbers

timbers

Providence Park is an absolute beauty of a stadium and the Portland Timbers should never consider moving. 

The Timbers Army provide one of the best atmospheres in Major League Soccer and it’s one of the first clubs I would like to visit whenever I get the chance. The location of the Timbers Army is perfect for the acoustics, being above pitch-level is very unique and I think that helps with the whole atmosphere.

I love everything about the matchday at Providence Park, from the tifo to Timber Joey doing his thing. The Timbers Army have also produced tifo in support of anti-racism and LGBTQ Pride Month, and for that they deserve applauding. 

 

Sporting Kansas City

MLS: Columbus Crew at Sporting KC
Image: Reporting SKC

Sporting Kansas City are right up there with the best in MLS and they are also one of the most consistent fan bases, even braving all weather conditions. Last season, the club celebrated 100 straight MLS sellouts against FC Dallas at Children’s Mercy Park.

They create a lot of noise in that stadium, inspired by the Cauldron and they are home to the famous Barbecue chant! People have made fun of it over here, but there’s no making fun of that support…

 

Seattle Sounders

seattle
Image: Randomness Personified

In terms of support and attendance, Seattle Sounders ran things in Major League Soccer before the addition of Atlanta United in 2017. However, they still sit second in the attendance standings with an impressive average of 43,666 over the last campaign. 

The Sounders have shown some unbelievable examples of tifo over the years, and like their rivals Portland, they both have really nice stadiums and the atmosphere to go with it.

 

Minnesota United

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Image: Star Tribune

I could’ve named Minnesota United simply for their Wonderwall connection to be honest, but their fans are actually pretty good!

The Loons began play in Major League Soccer last season, entering the league at the same time as Atlanta United. The club were in the top ten last season in the attendance rankings as they averaged over 20,000. And that’s despite playing at TCF Bank Stadium, even in challenging conditions. 

There are other fan bases in Major League Soccer that I have to mention and that includes those in Canada. Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact are all well supported. Each club averaged over 20,000 last season and they all filled above 90% of their stadiums over the course of the 2017 season. 

The two New York clubs get decent attendances, but don’t boast the best atmospheres in the league. I feel a stadium move is needed for NYCFC to really get the best out of those in attendance, a Baseball stadium doesn’t really help them.

I have absolutely nothing against the Texas sides FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo, I’m actually a fan of both clubs and enjoy their style. However, they are near the bottom when ranked in terms of attendance, so why are Columbus Crew being threatened with relocation to Austin? I fail to see the market. 

stc

Columbus Crew are an original Major League Soccer club and one of the nicest fan bases I have come across. Gregg Berhalter’s side are having a fantastic 2018 so far, and the fact that the team can be ripped from the community at the end of the year doesn’t sit right with me.

I couldn’t finish this article without giving a shout out to FC Cincinnati after they were announced as the next addition to Major League Soccer, beginning play in the 2019 season.

Cincinnati-Fans0308_large

This club is only going to add more atmosphere to the league, and I cannot wait! I loved watching them during last season’s Open Cup run which included a big win over Chicago Fire before eventually being stopped by New York Red Bulls.

During the 2017 USL season, FC Cincinnati had a higher average attendance than 10 MLS clubs, so there’s no denying that they will be a fantastic addition to the league. They are also Ohio-based so they could form a potential interesting rivalry with the Columbus Crew. So it might make sense to SaveTheCrew, eh Mr Precourt?

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