Boisterous crowds buoy Real
SALT LAKE CITY - On a night when Salt Lake City sports fans had several options to choose from, the vast majority chose to watch Real Salt Lake knock off the Los Angeles Galaxy in stunning fashion Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Just down the road 8,099 fans attended a Triple-A baseball game, and also downtown was Utah's first major boxing event, being held at the large Delta Center arena. Only 2,500 showed up for the bout. Even with these other sporting options being held all within sight of each other, a vocal 18,621 were on hand to cheer their expansion MLS team to victory.
"I was impressed with the crowd," said Galaxy striker Landon Donovan. "They helped (RSL) for sure (tonight)."
The Galaxy are no strangers to large crowds as they regularly fill the 27,000-seat Home Depot Center. After four games at home L.A. is averaging an attendance of 23,531, second only to Chicago (25,225), which had the help of an international doubleheader that drew more than 50,000 to Soldier Field earlier this year.
As the newest member of the league, and in one of smallest markets, RSL sits third in attendance with an amazing average turnout of 20,054.
"The fans are unbelievable," said Salt Lake midfielder Leslie Fitzpatrick. "Coming into the U.S. a lot of times when you play, if there is a good product they're gonna come or if there's lots of goals they're gonna come, but these fans (in Salt Lake) have been unbelievable, they've been unreal."
Real fans not only come out in large numbers but they are also very loud in support of their team. They come to be heard. It's no wonder that RSL is undefeated at home with such boisterous crowds. The atmosphere is great for fan experience and for the support of the home side, but it doesn't always help the visiting side.
"This is very difficult place to play," said San Jose striker Alejandro Moreno. "The crowd is very much into it."
Even though it may not be the most friendly place to play as a visiting team, those who have come still appreciate the efforts of the RSL faithful.
"It [is] a wonderful atmosphere," said Galaxy coach Steve Sampson. "That makes it exciting for us as well."
Added Donovan: "I'm glad they have a team here (in Salt Lake). Obviously you see here that the people are passionate and they get behind their team."
Scott McAllister is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.