Friday, July 20, 2012

Seattle Sounders draw world-class crowds

Mike Woitalla of Soccer America writes of how the Seattle Sounders, who lead MLS in attendance for the fourth straight year, has seen it's attendance grow to the point that it now competes among the best clubs and leagues in the world.

The Sounders have led the MLS in attendnace for the past four years, dating back to their inaugural 2009 season, and now average nearly 40,000 fans. To see how Seattle's attendance compares to some major European leagues and for MLS team attendance rankings ...

* After 10 games, the Seattle Sounders are averaging 39,537 fans.

Here's how Seattle's current attendance average would rank in some major European leagues if compared to 2011-12 figures:

3rd in 18-team Dutch Eredivisie (League-wide: 19,516; No. 1, Ajax Amsterdam 50,044; No. 20, Excelsior 3,091).

3rd in 20-team French Ligue 1 (League-wide: 18,665; No. 1, Paris SG 41,921; No. 20, AC Ajaccio 6,918).

4th in 20-team Italian Serie A (League-wide: 23,459; No. 1, AC Milan 51,442; No. 20, Cagliari 9,692).

6th in 20-team Spain La Liga (League-wide: 30,272; No. 1, Barcelona 84,119; No. 20, Getafe 10,736)

8th in 20-team English Premier League (League-wide: 34,601; No. 1, Manchester United 75,387; No. 20, QPR 17,295).

13th in 18-team German Bundesliga (League-wide: 44,294; No. 1, Borussia Dortmund 80,521; No. 18, Freiburg 22,676).

* MLS league-wide attendance this season after 181 games is 18,736. MLS's highest season attendance averages were 17,872 in 2011 and 17,406 in its inaugural season of 1996.

* Seattle has set the all-time MLS attendance record in each of its first three MLS seasons: 2011 -- 38,496; 2010 -- 36,173; 2009 -- 30,897.

Bradley moves to Roma

The Serie A has always been considered the gold standard for tactics, midfield play, and team defending.  Those were all on display as Italy raced on to advance to the Euro 2012 Final, with the vision of Pirlo and grit of DeRossi on display.

That only highlights the significance of Michael Bradley joining DeRossi at Roma, and is a watershed moment for US Soccer.  Bradley is looking forward to proving himself on the highest levels of club soccer.

The 24-year-old American midfielder signed with Serie A side Roma on Sunday after standing out last season at Chievo Verona. It was a move Bradley called a "dream" when speaking to reporters on a conference call two days after the four-year deal move became official.

"To be here now and to have the chance to play for Roma, it's something that means an incredible amount to me," Bradley explained. "To be here at a club with so much tradition, so much passion, so much history, this is what I've always dreamed of. Now that I'm here I'm determined to give everything I have to help make this team and help make this club the best it can be."

One of the intriguing debates of Bradley's move to the Olimpico Stadium is his role. He has played holding midfielder for the past two clubs where he's played, Chievo and Gladbach in Germany. At Roma he will be teamed with De Rossi, one of the top-five players in the world at defensive midfielder, raising concerns of how the two players will mesh.

But Bradley believes he has unique attributes that will benefit him in fitting the squad and is ready for the challenge.

"If you're going to play at the highest possible level, to become the best player you can possible be, then you have to be ready to take these kind of challenges," said Bradley.

"Having the mentality and determination and commitment that says, 'Listen, no matter what, I'm going to go there, I'm going to fight every day, I'm going to show every person there that I'm a guy that has to be on the field in important moments,' that's a challenge."

Bradley also stated that Roma was excited by his work ethic and revealed he could feature more offensively this season.

"Being a midfielder who is in all parts of the game," said Bradley. "In attack, in defense, help win battles, control the game... that's what I'm about as a player."

Bradley last featured on offense for Dutch side Heerenveen, where he scored 16 goals in his final season at the club. In having the opportunity to play in a more advanced role, Bradley should be able to develop into a more complete central midfielder.

This is a massive move for both Bradley and US Soccer.