Record crowd expected for Sounders-Timbers clash

Sounders Cascadia Cup tifo

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TUKWILA, Wash. — Big crowds have become a part of normal life for the Seattle Sounders. But this coming weekend's legion of home fans will be something else entirely.

More than 66,000 tickets have already been distributed for Sunday’s game against the rival Portland Timbers in the teams' huge Cascadia Cup matchup (9 pm ET, ESPN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com). That’s already a team record for an MLS game and it will almost certainly go down in history as the second-highest-attended non-doubleheader in league history.

Roughly 1,500 tickets are being distributed to Timbers fans for the match.

“These are once-in-a-lifetime,” Sounders midfielder Brad Evans told MLSsoccer.com. “When you look back on the seasons, you remember results, not necessarily crowds, but these are ones that stick out and you say, ‘I played in front of a sold-out CenturyLink Field.’”

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With capacity capped at a little more than 67,000, the Sounders won’t be able to surpass the 69,255 that reportedly saw the LA Galaxy host the NY/NJ MetroStars during the league-wide inaugural weekend in 1996. Unlike that game, though, Sunday’s affair is not as much of an isolated event.

This will be the fourth time in a little more than a year that the Sounders have drawn a crowd of more than 55,000 for a league game. That will give the club four of the top-12 attended single games in MLS history.

It’s also part of a league-wide trend, as it will mark the seventh time this season a MLS team has drawn at least 50,000 to a game.

Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid attended that game in 1996 and said it was a bit chaotic, as team officials apparently expected a crowd of closer to 25,000. The Sounders, and the league, are much more prepared now.

“It’s a more solid foundation,” Schmid said when asked to compare that game in 1996 and this one. “That was like a shot-in-the-dark kind of thing. Now there’s been a progression, a buildup. When you look at all the soccer-specific stadiums, that’s a solid foundation. As a result of that, this is more of a culmination of work.”

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If past performance is any indicator, the Sounders should put on a good show. They’ve won those three previous games with at least 55,000 in the seats by a cumulative score of 8-1.

“There’s extra motivation,” Schmid said, recalling the time he led the Galaxy against the New England Revolution in the MLS Cup 2002 final that was played in front of 61,316 at Gillette Stadium. “When the crowd is that size, it does become intimidating for the opponent.

“As experienced of a team as we were at the time, it was still a little bit daunting to go out there and face that and know that they were all for the opponent.”

Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.

12 Best-attended standalone games in MLS history

Attendance Home Team Road Team Date
69,255 LA Galaxy MetroStars 4/13/1996
66,237 NY Red Bulls LA Galaxy 8/18/2007
66,000+ Seattle Sounders Portland Timbers 10/6/2012
64,140 Seattle Sounders San Jose Earthquakes 10/15/2011
62,703 LA Galaxy New England Revolution 7/4/1996
61,202 Colorado Rapids Chicago Fire 7/4/2002
60,908 Seattle Sounders LA Galaxy 8/5/2012
60,860 Montreal Impact LA Galaxy 5/12/2012
60,500 Colorado Rapids D.C. United 7/4/2001
60,433 LA Galaxy Miami Fusion 7/4/1999
58,912 Montreal Impact Chicago Fire 3/17/2012
55,718 Seattle Sounders Vancouver Whitecaps 8/18/2012