Charlotte FC attendance record draws eyes from Duke-UNC

CHARLOTTE — Even essentially the most bold desires years in the past would’ve had hassle envisioning such a night time for Main League Soccer.

However as kickoff acquired nearer, Charlotte FC knew what could possibly be doable. These desires got here to fruition Saturday night time as 74,479 followers, an MLS attendance report, packed Financial institution of America Stadium for the group’s inaugural house sport. The LA Galaxy performed spoiler with a stunning goal by Efrain Alvarez within the 77th minute of the 1-0 win. Nonetheless, Saturday was as a lot about what occurred off the pitch than the sport itself.

Take the nationwide anthem for instance. With the stadium already buzzing, “The Voice” finalist Michelle Brooks-Thompson stepped as much as sing and her mic immediately lower off. The nearly 75,000 people took over in unison and “The Star-Spangled Banner” continued on as fireworks went off. It served as the right illustration of the magnitude of fan help in Charlotte for a group that was on the brink of play solely its second sport ever.

“It’s superb. On the sector. Off the sector. Within the stands. The brand new golf equipment which can be coming in, the fanbases that they’ve earlier than they even play one sport, the ticket gross sales and the season ticket holders,” mentioned Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney, who performed within the inaugural 1996 MLS season. “All that stuff simply exhibits how the league continues to develop. The way it’s getting engrained and entrenched within the tradition of North America.”

To place it in context, a pair hours away in Durham, Duke legend Mike Krzyzewski was teaching his final sport ever at Cameron Indoor Stadium. It was one of many greatest rivalries in sports activities, Duke vs. UNC, the place ticket prices were nearing Super Bowl levels. And there was Charlotte FC, taking a few of that highlight.

“Coach Ok’s closing night time — that’s one of the historic occasions in sports activities in our nation’s historical past,” mentioned MLS commissioner Don Garber. “The truth that we will have this sport occurring and capturing this consideration, that simply speaks to the eagerness of this market. It is a rising metropolis on so many alternative ranges and clearly within the sports activities degree it’s spectacular.

“We’re not in Barcelona or Munich, Madrid or London, Mexico Metropolis — it’s Charlotte, North Carolina,” Garber added. “Should you can ship this type of power, pleasure and dedication on this a part of the nation, think about what that is going to appear to be within the years to return.”

Regardless of the results of the sport, the Queen Metropolis handed the remainder of Saturday’s take a look at with flying colours.

Charlotte FC set an MLS attendance record on Saturday vs. the LA Galaxy wth 74,479 fans at Bank of America Stadium. (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Charlotte FC set an MLS attendance report on Saturday vs. the LA Galaxy wth 74,479 followers at Financial institution of America Stadium. (Picture by Peter Zay/Anadolu Company through Getty Photos)

1000’s of followers marched from that tailgate lot and made their manner a couple of mile by means of streets and parking tons, waving flags, chanting and filling the air with blue smoke. The march appeared to assemble followers because it went till it grew to become a endless swarm.

The stadium was already over 80 % full by the point Charlotte FC ran on the sector for warmups. Carolina legends Steve Smith Sr. and Jimmie Johnson visitor starred throughout pregame festivities.

“That was in all probability the perfect sport to be part of, I’ve been a part of my whole life,” mentioned 21-year-old defender and Charlotte native Jaylin Lindsey. “I used to be picturing myself 7 or 8 years in the past within the nosebleeds watching Panthers video games and numerous ICC video games in the summertime. To know that I’m that particular person on the sector, it was simply unbelievable.”

Galaxy midfielder Sacha Kljestan spoke in regards to the progress the group represented.

“To assume that I used to be enjoying at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake Metropolis in entrance of 5 thousand followers 10 to fifteen years in the past to the place we’re in the present day as a league, it’s mind-blowing,” he mentioned. “I personally by no means thought that we’d be right here this quick. The league is in a unbelievable place proper now and it’s getting higher.”

The sport itself was a bit irritating for Charlotte, which was outshot 21-5 by the Galaxy. As growth usually goes, it should take time for them to totally really feel snug.

There have been a pair constructive takeaways for Miguel Angel Ramirez’s squad, particularly the battle they confirmed for 90 minutes. Daniel Rios had maybe the group’s finest alternative to attain in stoppage off a header. That equalizer would’ve undoubtedly felt like a game-winner for the Queen Metropolis in that occasion. However as the ultimate whistle blew, the followers have been there with a standing ovation. Charlotte has but to attain a purpose this season, however they checked off a giant purpose by breaking the attendance report like they got down to.

Charlotte FC has aspirations of averaging 30,000 followers this season, which is one other lofty goal. Whether or not or not they will obtain that has but to be seen, and it should do so much with the on discipline product. If the soccer is as much as par, the help figures to be past that.

Futbol has arrived in full power in Charlotte, and the Queen Metropolis desires its crown.

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