Houston, We Have a Problem

We’re not totally sure Houston fans realize the MLS Cup Playoffs have started.

The attendance woes in Houston continued Monday night as a meager 15,169 fans watched the top-seeded Portland Timbers battle the Dynamo to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the conference semifinals.

The match marked yet another disappointing showing in what has become an all-around forgettable year of fan support. As we outlined recently, the Houston Dynamo averaged 17,500 fans per game for the 2017 season.  The club hasn’t seen numbers that low since 2010. And that’s before they were even in their soccer-specific stadium.

What’s even worse, the team seems to struggle drawing fans when it matters most.

The two recent playoff games are the 1st and 3rd-worst attended matches at BBVA Compass Stadium in 2017.

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Many people will be quick to point out that the Houston Astros baseball team is deep in its World Series run. “The baseball craze is cannibalizing all other Houston fandom,” they will say.

But that doesn’t tell the full picture. And surely that’s not a strong enough excuse to singularly impact playoff attendance.

When the city’s basketball team was making its playoff run during April and May of this year, the Houston Dynamo still drew 16,000-17,000 fans.

Even back in 2013, the last time the Houston Dynamo were in the playoffs, the club drew 20,626 at BBVA Compass Stadium for its conference semifinal matchup and 22,107 for its conference final game.

Filling only 69% of a stadium (on paper, not actual butts in seats!) for a playoff match against the #1 team in the conference is just disappointing.

However, the team’s supporters may have a shot at redemption.

This Sunday, Houston will travel to Portland for the second leg of the conference semifinals and will likely be met by a raucous crowd at Providence Park.

The disparity in home field advantage will be very apparent.

If Houston can advance to the conference finals, we’ll be watching the next home game very closely. The World Series will be over so there will be no more competing sports to get in the way of a packed house.




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