TORONTO — The Seattle Sounders see the benefits of winning the MLS Cup, including possibly raising their already league-best attendance figures. Not by a smidgen, either.
The Sounders are set to play Toronto FC at BMO Field on Saturday night with the chance to capture their first MLS Cup trophy, and they believe winning it all would do more than just give them that all-elusive title. The Sounders also foresee increased fan interest in the club should it be crowned champion, especially at the gates of its well-attended home at CenturyLink Field.
“If we win this game, I think it it’s potentially transformational,” said Sounders general manager and president of soccer, Garth Lagerwey. “One of the things we said at (our recent) business meeting is we want to sell out the stadium. We’re at 40,000 and we’re tops in MLS and that’s great, but the (NFL’s) Seahawks do 68,000 a game and we think we can too in the next 10 years.
“The way we get there is by creating moments like winning championships. That’s our goal and when the Seahawks did it they had a parade with two million people. I don’t know if we’ll get to two million, but it would be pretty cool and I think it would be a pretty massive event.”
While the Sounders have set the standard for league attendance since arriving in MLS back in 2009, they saw a slight drop in their totals this year. Whereas in 2015 when the Sounders averaged 44,247 fans per game, this season that figure slipped to 42,636. The club’s poor first half to the season might explain that reduction, and winning an MLS Cup could serve as a big boost at the turnstiles. At least, that is what the Sounders are hoping for.
Nonetheless, the Cascadia side is not taking Saturday’s result or game for granted. They know the match will be difficult because of the talent Toronto FC possesses, and because the Canadian club will be the one that has the home-field advantage and majority of fans rooting it on.
“I’m not going to argue with data and statistics and the home team wins more often,” Lagerwey said. “I think I saw 5-out-of-7 MLS Cups in this format the home teams won. That’s a data point, I’m a data guy, I have to acknowledge that, I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t exist, but, man, I like our team and I like our chances and we’re going to come out and do our best.”