What ESPN Hides From You

Many people don’t realize how insane the crowd noise can be at some soccer venues. We Americans like to think that our football games with 80-90,000 fans are loud, but there is loud and there is LOUD. ESPN cranks the crowd noise down SO much because they want you to hear the commentary, that you really miss the effect. I remember watching the USMNT v. El Salvador match and thinking the crowd noise seemed tamer than I expected. Then I watched this highlight film from US Soccer (H/T Jared at JMSoccer). Insane – from the roar of the crowd to the ear splitting siren wailing whenever El Salvador was attacking late in the match:

You can’t help but get chills when El Salvador scores that first goal. Intense. There is no doubt that’s a 12th man for El Salvador, though I thought the US played so-so much of the match and only woke up in the last 15 minutes. Also – I cannot believe this highlight video left out Ching’s bicycle kick shot in stoppage time that would have won the match.

Oh, and that crowd? Only 30,350 people. Insane.

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  1. A few years ago, I was chatting with one of the men’s national team coaches, and he also said that arriving and leaving the stadium and entering and leaving the pitch Central- and South-American fans are usually verbally and physically abusive to the American players, throwing objects and such–sometimes this results in FIFA action, sometimes not. He noted that treatment outside of these regions was much better. He also suggested that with the exception of two locations, they really had no home fields in the USA, with fans mostly supporting visiting Central- and South-American teams. All uncool, in my book. I wasn’t born here yet the U.S. teams are my team when they are playing and regardless of whom they are playing.

    That being said, chanting, singing, noise, and real support by engaged fans is very cool and is an aspect of the game that is different here in the U.S., where fans sit somewhat quietly and politely, rarely stand, and get annoyed when those around them do.

    What kind of fans do we want?



  2. I was really impressed by the passion of the El Salvador crowd, though it is lousy to think our players are getting abused out there. If we recognize what a big deal the game is (this is not mere sport to most countries, is it?) then maybe our players can be psychologically equipped to deal with it.

    I do think we need to develop US fans as much as we need to develop US players; in both cases, we need to ramp up the sophistication and the passion.

    Here in San Jose (California) we have a couple fan groups that work really hard to try and recreate the best of fan involvement. They are loud, chant and cheer – they might even start a chant taunting the opposing, rival team – but I don’t think they ever go to the dark side.

    They are who one usually hears most at home game, 10x louder than the rest of the crowd. It might be a good model for fan involvement.

    1906 Ultras: http://www.1906ultras.com/
    The Casbah: http://www.thecasbah.org/

    Another consideration with our own leagues is stadiums that are suitably intimate in feel, while seating a good capacity. Typical big football stadiums do not feel intimate at all (e.g. Oakland Coliseum). On the other hand we need stadiums that will seat a 30,000+ fan crowd… and then the enthusiastic crowd to fill the seats!

    Does a strong crowd make a difference in winning games?

    One of the interesting trade-offs can be seen in Manchester United vs. Liverpool. Manchester United playing at home at Old Trafford have a large crowd who pays well for their tickets and the gate they take in is enormous, more so than Liverpool has at home. But the Liverpool fans are second to none, not the shrimp sandwich crowd, they are loud and fiercely loyal, an unstoppable force. “You’ll never stand alone” – its part of the package that make players like Gerrard want to play at Liverpool forever – its a club you don’t quit, because it is who you are. That can only help in winning games.

    So, part of this is up to us, the guys in the stands. When the US plays in town, we can make a difference.


  3. Just make sure you practice your Liverpudlian accent and get it down before going to a Prem game at Anfield …. Don’t want to be thought a visitor.

  4. One thing that I always work on with my team is the importance of yelling, shouting, to communicate to their teammates . However I learned from some former UK pro players that on the field in big matches there is NO WAY that they can hear “MAN ON” or whatever due to the intense crowd noise.

  5. The family and I were at Worker’s Stadium in Beijing in August for the WNT’s semi against Japan. 50,000 seats, all full, mostly for the US, the place was rocking, singing, chanting, just crazy. USA won 4-2. We went to a WNT friendly against China in December here at the Home Depot Center, 25,000 capacity, only half full (one side was covered and not even open). Some true soccer fans and solid cheering but no singing, little chanting or flag waiving. USA won 1-0. Go figure.