SEATTLE — Winning in front of huge crowds is something that seems to suit the Seattle Sounders just fine.
The Sounders topped the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0 on Saturday in front of a crowd of 55,718. It was the second time in as many home games and the third time since the end of last season that they had played, and won, in front of a home crowd that large for a league match.
"It's a tremendous reflection of what Seattle is doing,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “I told Adrian [Hanauer, Sounders general manager] if he keeps getting more than 50,000 we'll keep winning because every league game over 50,000 we've won. So we don't mind if in the next game they want to open up some more seats and get another 55,000 in there."
HIGHLIGHTS: SEA 2, VAN 0
Since drawing a crowd of more than 64,000 for last year’s home finale – Kasey Keller's final game at CenturyLink field before retirement – the Sounders now own three of the 11 highest-attended single games in MLS regular-season history. Their current home average of 42,578 fans per game would break their own MLS record that they’ve set each of the previous three seasons, and they are expecting at least one more crowd of 60,000-plus when they host the Portland Timbers later this year on October 7.
“I think back to 2008 when I first found out I was coming here, then hearing there were 5,000 then 10,000 season-ticket holders,” Sounders midfielder Brad Evans said. “All of a sudden, four years later, it's 55,000 for a league game. That's unheard of and it's really something special. As long as we keep winning these games we keep people happy and that's pretty important as well.”
The sample size is obviously small, but the early returns suggest the larger-than-normal crowd has a positive effect on the Sounders’ performance. In those three games, they’ve gone 3-0-0 and outscored their opponents 8-1. In the 10 other games in that time, they are 6-3-1 with a plus-five goal differential.
“Maybe we have to think about opening up the upper level every game,” Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning said. “It's always amazing in front of this crowd. Before the game, if you walk through the tunnel, [and hear] the clap-clap, you get goose bumps. It's amazing.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.