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SmorgasBorg: Seattle under fire for US attendance? Time for critics to back off

Seattle coming under fire for soccer attendance? Is that seriously happening?

Despite the fact that CenturyLink Field has led MLS in average attendance ever since the Sounders joined MLS, setting numerous records along the way, there are several out there who still want to put the city on trial for failing to support the US national team as well as they do their local Sounders.

Their evidence? The latest ticket count as of Wednesday which showed there were more than 50,000 sold for the Cascadia Cup match between Seattle and Vancouver on Saturday, while the USMNT World Cup qualifier the following Tuesday night vs. Panama is at 34,000.

And the finger-wagging is happening all around the country: How dare you, Seattle! We'll never give you another qualifier! Ever!

Back off. Those attendance numbers are where they should be.

A local club -- especially a local rivalry -- should always stir more emotions with Seattleites than a World Cup qualifier against Panama can ever expect to.

Don't believe me? Just look what happens around the world.

Milan's Stadio San Siro is always be jam-packed for the Derby della Madonnina between Inter and AC Milan. But an Italy World Cup qualifier against arguably their toughest group opponents, Denmark, drew a little more than 37,000 last October.

Or just turn south of the border, where the Estadio Azteca in Mexico was barely half full for recent home qualifiers against Jamaica and Costa Rica.

Give Seattle fans a break. USA vs. Panama is not exactly USA vs. Mexico. And who says every Sounders fan is a USMNT fan?

But those are just some of the considerations to be taken into account: US-Panama falls on a Tuesday night. There's a baseball game across the street happening at roughly the same time. The qualifier is on national television (ESPN and UniMas). And the lowest-priced US ticket ($50) is twice the price of the cheapest Sounders ticket for Saturday night ($25).

And even with all that, there's still a very good chance the game sells out before Tuesday. The CenturyLink capacity for the Panama match is set at 45,000 because of the Mariners baseball game.

If Seattle does get to that 45,000 mark, it will still go into the history books (it would be the largest USMNT crowd in the city's history, surpassing the 43,651 that packed the Kingdome in 1994). In fact, only six other home US qualifiers have ever drawn attendances larger than 45,000 and none of those featured up-and-comers Panama as opposition.

Invariably it's just a matter of time before the same critics that are taking an early dig this week will be paying homage to Seattle … twice in three days.

You don't have to be a Sounders supporter to know there's no city in the USA today that could pull off what Seattle is about to.


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