MLS passes NBA as third most attended sport in USA

Real Salt Lake defender Chris Wingert (17) and Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham (23) battle for the ball in the second half in the MLS Western Conference Final game at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California on Nov. 6, 2011. The Galaxy won 3-1. UPI/Lori Shepler.

This is great news for soccer in the United States:

Major League Soccer set a new high-water mark for average attendance this season, as expansion clubs in Portland and Vancouver lived up to preseason expectations for big crowds, and a new stadium and rebranding effort in Kansas City turned around that city’s once-ailing club.

Average attendance for the 18 clubs rose 7.2 percent to 17,872 spectators a game this season, surpassing the league’s previous record of 17,406, which was set during its inaugural season in 1996. The league’s lowest attendance came in 2000 when it averaged just 13,756 fans. Since 2007, its average has consistently stayed between 16,000 and 17,000. The strong showing at the gate brought MLS’s average above the most recent seasons for both the NHL (17,132) and NBA (17,323).

The new cities are making a big impact, and that’s a huge development.