Expansion home openers: A look back at history

The expansion Montreal Impact play their first-ever MLS home game on Saturday against the Chicago Fire (2 pm ET, MLS Live). And it turns out they won’t be alone. Far from it, actually.

The club announced on Wednesday that they had sold more than 50,000 tickets to the match at the Stade Olympique. The average attendance for an MLS expansion club’s home opener, by comparison, is historically 24,956.

In honor of the record-breaking event, MLSsoccer.com takes a look back at each expansion club’s home opener, their attendance, and how the fared coming out of the blocks.

Miami Fusion

3/15/98, vs. D.C. United
Attendance: 20,450

Miami’s home opener doubled as the first game in their history as a club. Despite boasting former MLS MVP Carlos Valderrama, the Fusion fared about as well as you’d expect an expansion club to do. Goals from Richie Williams and Tony Sanneh, as well as six saves from Scott Garlick, doomed Miami to a 2-0 loss at Lockhart Stadium.

WATCH: Marsch excited for home opener

Chicago Fire

4/4/98 vs. Tampa Bay
Attendance: 36,444

The Chicago Fire’s 1998 season was truly historical: In their inaugural campaign, the Men in Red won both MLS Cup and the US Open Cup. Fittingly, their first game at Soldier Field ended in a Frank Klopas brace-powered 2-0 win over the Mutiny.

Chivas USA

4/2/05 vs. D.C. United
Attendance: 18,493

Being an expansion team is hard, but it’s even harder when your first-ever game is against the reigning champions. Despite a large, friendly Home Depot Center crowd backing them, the Goats fell 2-0 to D.C. on goals by Josh Gros and Christian Gómez.

Real Salt Lake

4/16/05 vs. Colorado
Attendance: 25,287

Before Rio Tinto Stadium, there was University of Utah football’s Rice-Eccles Stadium. The less soccer-friendly digs didn’t deter 25,000+ fans from showing up to watch Brian Dunseth bury their Rocky Mountain rival Rapids with an 81st-minute goal.

Toronto FC

4/28/07 vs. Kansas City
Attendance: 20,148

The Reds finished their inaugural season with just six wins, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell that by the number of fans who flooded BMO Field. In a sign of things to come, TFC both sold out their new home and fell 1-0 to the Wizards on an 81st-minute goal by Eddie Johnson.

San Jose Earthquakes

4/12/08 vs. Chicago
Attendance: 20,038

After a two-season hiatus from Major League Soccer, Bay Area residents were apparently ready for the Quakes when they returned in 2008. More than 20,000 fans flocked to the Oakland Coliseum, but were disappointed to see their club fall 1-0 to the Fire in their first game back in existence.

Seattle Sounders

3/19/09 vs. New York
Attendance: 32,608

The stage couldn’t have gotten much bigger for the Rave Green’s first MLS game. Opening at Qwest Field against the MLS Cup 2008 finalist Red Bulls, neither the team nor their fans disappointed, as a Fredy Montero brace pushed the home side to a 3-0 win in front of a crowd that has since become expected of the Emerald City.

Philadelphia Union

4/10/10 vs. D.C. United
Attendance: 34,870

After extensive lobbying, the fans in Philly finally got their reward in 2010 as a late Sébastien Le Toux goal capped a 3-2 win for the newly minted Union over D.C. at the Philadelphia Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field.

Vancouver Whitecaps

3/19/11 vs. Toronto
Attendance: 22,592

Toronto FC were the lucky club to selected to welcome Canada’s second club into MLS. Whether it was in deference to the historical occasion or not, the Reds got run out of Empire Field by their longtime Canadian Championship rival by a 4-2 score line.

Portland Timbers

4/14/11 vs. Chicago
Attendance: 18,627

The Timbers got off to a rough start in their expansion season, winless in their first three games. The cauldron of JELD-WEN Field proved to be just the tonic Portland needed, though, as two goals from Jorge Perlaza paced the Timbers to a 4-2 win over the Fire.