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Attendance Numbers Showing Growth of Soccer in the U.S.

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More fans of the game means more fans in the seats.

IndyStar.com

With all three U.S. soccer leagues in full swing, this year's attendance numbers show the growth of soccer in the United States. This year, the MLS welcomed two new expansion franchises and all 20 teams are affiliated with a USL franchise, meaning the number of people going to games has risen significantly. Going off of that, the attendance numbers for the U.S. Men's and Women's national teams have also risen. The Women's National team drew just under 36,000 fans for a game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.

Major League Soccer, and the two lower American leagues, NASL and USL have also been breaking record themselves.  During the first week of the season, MLS expansion franchises Orlando City and New York City FC faced off in front of over 62,000 fans at the Citrus Bowl. NYCFC draws over 20,000 fans per game at Yankee Stadium. For the four home Columbus Crew SC games at MAPFRE Stadium, just over 15,000 fans were in attendance for each. According to Total-MLS.com, the MLS season average for attendance numbers is just under 21,000 per game. With teams like the Seattle Sounders drawing 40,000 fans per game, it shows that U.S. soccer has support.

Moving to the lower leagues, the NASL is gaining traction with its attendance numbers. The Indy Eleven recently had their 16th consecutive sellout at Carroll Stadium. Each game for Indy drew over 10,000 fans. The Tampa Bay Rowdies sold out their home opener at Al Lang Stadium. While veteran teams were drawing big crowds, NASL expansion franchise Jacksonville Armada drew a league record 16,164 fans for the club's first home contest.

The USL is the lowest tier professional soccer league in the United States but its attendance numbers speak for themselves. The Crew SC affiliate, the Austin Aztex, drew around 4,000 fans per game last year and continue that trend this season. Other teams, such as the Tulsa Roughnecks and Louisville City, draw fans in the 6,000 to 8,000. Detroit City FC, of the fourth tier NPSL, have seen crowds grow from an average of 1,000 in 2012 to nearly 3,000 per game in 2014.

Soccer is a growing sport in the United States. The MLS is only 20 years old this year and the NASL and USL are both in their fifth year in their current iterations. Those tremendous youth soccer numbers and legions of FIFA players are heading out to watch the sport live and driving those attendance numbers higher. Teams are already drawing record numbers of fans and competing in tournaments such as the US Open Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League. More fans will come with time and with teams competing. It is only a matter of time before the lower leagues start to compete in the US Open Cup and with that will bring out even more fans.