Even with a Living Social deal in full swing, average attendance for the last six home games -- where D.C. United has won four games and tied two -- is down to 12,403, now an 18.5% drop from average attendance last season (15,211).
Results aren't keeping people away. With four games left in the season, United hit the fifty point mark this evening -- the most the club has had in a season since 2007.
And it certainly is not the weather, as it was another beautiful night in D.C.
Nor do I think that the club's promotional efforts can be blamed. We contributed three to the total this evening and spent the first half in the VW garage. Tonight's match is the first game we've attended where both my girls unequivocally enjoyed the night out. Both found children of equivalent age to cavort with and when they weren't playing, we got close up views of Maryland alums Danny Califf and Casey Townsend as well as phenomenal combination play between Andy Najar and Nick DeLeon on the right flank. The garage is a terrific setup for young kids and a godsend for parents that want to see a live sporting event.
We only were able to check out the garage tonight because the four other people we have season tickets with found other things to do and could not find anyone that had an interest in going to a soccer match gratis.
This is a weird team in a weird situation.
The talent is the best we've seen as season ticket holders. The home grown and drafted players -- Chris Pontius, Bill Hamid, Andy Najar, Nick DeLeon, Chris Korb, and Perry Kitchen -- are charismatic and each has improved as the year has worn on. The foundation for a quality team is there. In DeRosario, Boskovic, and Salihi, there is some real veteran class and skill in the roster.
None of this is resonating with the fan base, who are largely staying away. The lack of enthusiasm also likely has little to do with the continuing decline of RFK -- friends and family that we've previously enticed to games in past seasons showed no interest this year, but will head well out of their way to the spartan setting of Ludwig Field to catch Maryland.
When Curt Onalfo was first introduced to the fanbase, he made a point trying to connect with fans. He did so through the false promise of attacking, attractive soccer (he did not come close to delivering). Olsen replaced Onalfo with the underlying promise that a connection with the fans is already there based on his tenure as a player. Olsen's record this season and the considerable development of his younger wards are testaments to his natural abilities as a coach. But my four year old has never felt comfortable walking over and saying hello to Bennie when she's seen him at Ludwig or at the stadium. That, in and of itself, means nothing but is a small and insignificant reflection of what happens when the "bite" you advocate from your side is turned on supporters.